Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: August 2010

An Author Archive by Month (36 entries)

Education and Signaling: Bill Dickens Replies

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Last week, Bill Dickens critiqued the signaling model of education, and I replied.  Here's Bill's rejoinder:Bryan has said a lot nice things about me in this space. Let me take this opportunity to return the favor. There are many different... MORE

Inflation Regimes Data

Monetary Policy
Bryan Caplan
Want to play with the inflation data to see if some variant of Arnold's inflation regimes theory holds water?  My new RA Zac Gochenour has posted the data right here.  Enjoy, and please share if you discover anything interesting either... MORE

Thank You IVF, Friedman Family Edition

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Several friends have advised me to tone down my book's trenchant defense of assisted reproductive technology.  Patri Friedman's just given me another reason to stand my ground: We are delighted to announce the birth of Iselle Rose Friedman early this... MORE

Ozimek's Reductios

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Adam Ozimek offers two reductios against my claim that it's almost always good to create life.  Reductio #1:[I]f you take seriously the notion that the utility of not being born is less than the utility of being born, it seems... MORE

Pre-Order Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I won't submit my final manuscript for another week or two, but you can already pre-order Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids from Amazon.  Neat.HT: Adam Ozimek... MORE

Inflation Regimes? Where?

Monetary Policy
Bryan Caplan
My former student Eli Dourado has ably performed the legwork on my first-cut test of Arnold's inflation regimes theory.  Pay special attention to the last graph, limited to countries with mean inflation below 10%.  There isn't the slightest sign of... MORE

My Syllabus of Errors

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
If Brad DeLong himself has a few mistakes to confess, imagine how many I've made!  I discuss quite a few in my intellectual autobiography, but here are my highlights (lowpoints?), in rough chronological order:1. I used to think Catholicism was... MORE

Toggling Without a Switch

Monetary Policy
Bryan Caplan
While I think there's little evidence in favor of Arnold's inflation regimes hypothesis, it strikes me as vastly more likely than Arnold's skepticism about the very ability of central banks to change nominal variables.  Question for Arnold: If you really... MORE

The Economics of the Gift of Life

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
If someone gives another person $100, almost all economists agree that the recipient is better off.  Hard-line neoclassical economists will say it's true by definition; the rest won't be so emphatic, but they'll confidently agree.  Even happiness researchers will probably... MORE

Arnold has a novel theory of dual inflation regimes:I don't think that the Fed can fine tune the economy. I think that, at most, it can toggle between two regimes: a regime where inflation is high and variable; and a... MORE

Balan's Test

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
My debate partner David Balan poses a fascinating test of the signaling model in the comments: Here's a possible test. Among Israeli Jews there is a substantial religious minority known as "Ultra-Orthodox" or "Haredi" Jews. In this group a large... MORE

Education and Signaling: Reply to Bill Dickens

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
As you'd expect, Bill's case against the signaling model doesn't convince me.  Here are my thoughts, point-by-point:I take it that you think that nearly all of the value of schooling is signaling?My best guess is that 80% of the private... MORE

Bill Dickens versus the Signaling Model of Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Bill Dickens was my Econ 1 teacher.  He's also long been one of the intellectual consciences on my shoulder - an imagined reader whose standards I strive to meet.  He recently emailed me a critique of a thesis for which... MORE

The Housing-Oil Analogy

Regulation and Subsidies
Bryan Caplan
Arnold's latest post is spot-on.  I can't resist turning it into an SAT analogy... Housing: Oil :: Today: the SeventiesIn both cases, the public flipped out over the market outcome, government rushed to "do something," and ended up creating a... MORE

Becker versus the Comics Code

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
In the early 1950s, American comics were edgy.  Newsstands carried the usual kid stuff, but they also featured genres like graphic horror, true crime, and noir.  Then came a fear-mongering psychiatrist, a Congressional inquiry, and threats of censorship.  The industry... MORE

Bob Murphy's Question

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
In the comments, Bob Murphy writes:When Bryan says the first-best solution is to tax education, is he just making a point that there are negative externalities? In other words, does Bryan also think a government tax on pollution is the... MORE

Inconvenient Positions

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
My book on democracy, my almost-complete book on kids, and my future book on education all take inconvenient positions.  Meaning: In each case, there's an ideologically cleaner and more crowd-pleasing rationale for what I think people ought to do.Case 1:... MORE

Discipline: Advice and Evidence

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Here's an excerpt on discipline (plus academic references) from Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids.  If parents want a happier life, they need to rethink the justification for discipline. The welfare of the child is one legitimate goal.  If your... MORE

Questions Worth Answering

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
You're unlikely to see more thought-provoking questions than the set in Robin's latest:Some classic great divides: tyrants vs. freedom-lovers, rich vs. poor, faithful vs. heathen, urbanites vs. townies, men vs. women, intellectuals vs. ignoramuses, artists vs. the undiscerning, greens vs.... MORE

The Horwitz Challenge

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
On Facebook, Steve Horwitz writes:The next time you're engaged in a political discussion with someone who has very strong views different from your own, ask them if they can name two famous thinkers or politicians whose politics are opposed to... MORE

I Lived to See the Future

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
In 1982, TSR released a science-fiction role-playing game called Star Frontiers.  The rules weren't great, but I loved the campaign world - so much that I recently started running a new game for my kids using the Star Frontiers universe... MORE

Boaz on Media Bias

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
You don't have to convince me that liberal media bias is real and large.  But Cato's David Boaz points out another amusing example: [M]ainstream (liberal) media regularly put an ideological label on conservative and libertarian organizations and interviewees, but not... MORE

Bill and Robin's Not So Excellent Hypothesis

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Robin explains a new theory of falling fertility that he cooked up with Bill Dickens on the road back from GenCon:The key idea: farming pressures strengthened a fem forager tendency to, when personally richer, invest more energy in pursuing status,... MORE

Overpaid Federal Employees Redux

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
In March, USA Today reported that federal employees were heavily overpaid, Peter Orszag countered with some apples-to-apples econometrics, and I objected that Orszag (a) seemed to ignore exceptionally generous federal benefits, and that (b) official benefit statistics fail to count... MORE

Most Monolithic

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Murray Rothbard - as well as many of the New Left Cold War revisionists who inspired him - heavily ridiculed the view that the Communist movement was "monolithic."  Like other movements, they point out, Communists quarelled, formed factions, ignore chains... MORE

Smart Phones and Restaurants

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
One thing I haven't seen smart phones do yet: Figure out that you're in a restaurant, then let you order your meal straight from your phone without talking to a server.  To cut transactions costs further, your phone would tell... MORE

My First Look at Strictly Confidential

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
As soon as I saw that the Mises Institute had published Strictly Confidential: The Private Volker Fund Memos of Murray N. Rothbard, I took out my credit card.  Rothbard's at the top of my list of thinkers who proverbially, "may... MORE

Casey Mulligan makes a thought-provoking point about summer employment:[N]ational employment was two million to three million higher in July than it was six months before (employment estimates vary somewhat between the business surveys and the household survey). [...] But it's... MORE

Sunburn, TARP, and the Activist's Fallacy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Like Conan O'Brien, I don't tan in the sun; I burst into flames.  The most painful moments in my life have been due to sunburn.  I was burned so bad in 1981 that I didn't get another until 1994 -... MORE

More on Cowen on Nominal Rigidities

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
In case you didn't notice, the reason why I outsourced my advice for the unemployed is that Tyler preceded it with, "Yet I have seen not one such post to the unemployed," and followed it with, "If such posts would... MORE

My Advice for the Unemployed

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Non-ironically outsourced to Tyler Cowen:Hey guys, lower your wage demands!  It's good for you!  You'll get a job and avoid the soul-sucking ravages of idleness.  It's good for the country!  It's good for Bernanke, you'll get those regional Fed presidents... MORE

Babcock-Marks and Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
After summarizing the Babcock-Marks' evidence on declining study time, I pointed out that the return to education rose heavily during the same period, then remarked:Babcock and Marks could reply, of course, that the return to college would have been even... MORE

College: Easy Money

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
According to Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks, college students' weekly study time fell by 40% between 1961 and 2003.  The research is forthcoming in the Review of Economics and Statistics, but here's a very readable popularization.  Their basic findings:In 1961,... MORE

You've probably noticed that imports are labeled by national origin.  This is usually required.  The most obvious effect of such regulation is to slightly disadvantage foreign producers by raising their cost of production.  But the only slightly less obvious effect... MORE

Political Mood Cycles

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
My casual observation of American politics suggests that national political mood follows a four-year cycle that syncs with the presidential electoral cycle.  Here's how I see the cycle running:Election Year: StridentInauguration Year: HopefulSecond Year: DisappointedThird Year: Boredand then back to...Election... MORE

How Far Does the Five-Organ Hypothetical Get Us?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Simple moral theories are almost always easy to refute with simple hypotheticals.  Yet in the real world, right and wrong rarely seem ambiguous to me.  The reason isn't that I think that consequences don't count.  I take consequences seriously.  My... MORE

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