Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: October 2010

An Author Archive by Month (28 entries)

Big Business and Regulatory Double Standards

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson points out yet another way that, contra left-libertarians, big business faces exceptionally and unreasonably harsh regulation:Many of our regulations apply to big firms more strongly than small firms, and and even less to homes. For example, many regulations... MORE

Hitler's War Aims: Bloodlands Edition

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Bloodlands' take on Hitler's war aims fits neatly with my earlier exegesis of Mein Kampf:...Stalin had an economic revolution to defend, whereas Hitler needed a war for his economic transformation.  Whereas Stalin had his "socialism in one country," Hitler had... MORE

Blameworthy: How Party Loyalty Corrupts Voter Judgment

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Michael Marsh and James Tilley's "The Attribution of Credit and Blame to Governments and Its Impact on Vote Choice" (British Journal of Political Science 2009) has two exceptionally compelling figures.  The first is for Britain voters, the second for Irish... MORE

Of Infants and Immigrants

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
If an additional infant born in America has positive externalities, asks Adam Ozimek, shouldn't an additional immigrant who moves to America have positive externalities, too?Since the average immigrant age is around 30, that means when they've arrived they are already... MORE

Soviet Poland, 1939-41

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands is the best history I've read in five years: important, careful, beautifully written, and morally wise.  Many excellent books explore the parallels between Nazism and Communism, between Hitler and Stalin.  But Snyder almost makes you feel like... MORE

Good Baby

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
The Kauffman Foundation's Tim Kane generously included one of my questions on the latest quarterly econ blogger's survey:The net externality of the birth of an additional child in the United States is... [POSITIVE, ZERO, or NEGATIVE]Survey says: I suspect that... MORE

Common Sense and the Marginal Student

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Common sense says that marginal consumer of a product - the person who say "Eh, why not?" before he buys - benefits less from his purchase than the product's average consumer.  This is clearly true for consumption decisions: The typical... MORE

Bloodlands

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I haven't finished the first chapter of Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, but I'm ready to highly recommend the book.  Just one great passage:As Stalin interpreted the disaster of collectivization in the last weeks of 1932, he... MORE

Pop Answer

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
There's much disagreement in the comments, but I side firmly with everyone who said that the answer is indeterminate because the income and substitution effects work in opposite directions.  Your unexpectedly high grade is evidence that you earn more points... MORE

Pop Quiz

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you get your midterm back, and discover that you've scored considerably higher than you expected.  According to basic micro, how will you adjust your study effort in response to this pleasant surprise?... MORE

Baby Fever

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
According to conventional wisdom, women want kids more than men.  But when you start looking at the data, conventional wisdom doesn't seem to check out.  Country by country, men and women desire almost exactly the same number of kids.  Kids... MORE

Thiel's Priceless Publicity

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I hereby nominate Peter Thiel as the world's most creative philanthropist.  After lending his name and money to seasteading, he's now trying to reform education by discouraging it:Thiel is starting a new initiative that will offer grants of up to... MORE

Where's the State of the Free?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
In Montreal, I met William Ruger and Jason Sorens, creators of the Freedom in the 50 States index.  It's a neat project, no doubt partly driven by Sorens' leading role in the Free State Project.  Competing indices exist, but the... MORE

I've been telling EconLog readers about my article with Steve Miller on intelligence and economic beliefs for years.  Now our piece has finally been published in Intelligence.  Quick version of the paper:Adding a measure of intelligence to the list of... MORE

The Flexibility of Identity

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I just returned from a Liberty Fund conference on nationalism.  The point I kept returning to: Even non-human primates have group identities.  Chimps clearly identify with their small bands, showing in-group amity and out-group enmity.  What's amazing about humans, however,... MORE

Trade War: Boudreaux's Case for Pacifism

International Trade
Bryan Caplan
Last week, Don Boudreaux praised my attempt to re-explain the Law of Comparative Advantage, but his latest post on the same theme puts mine to shame:If governments fought real wars like they fight trade wars, here's how the transcript of... MORE

The Real Heroes of Western Civ

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I was too sick yesterday to invoke my annual curse on Columbus.  But in my fever, I still wondered: How did this awful conqueror and slaver ever become an icon of "Western civilization"?  Every society has such men to offer.  ... MORE

Don't Miss The Invisible Gorilla

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons is the latest attempt to popularize academic cognitive psychology - and probably the best book of its type.  The title comes from a cute... MORE

When Is It Safe to Thumb Your Nose?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
A challenge from Robin Hanson:Bryan commented: Modern parents' depend primarily on the market, not other parents - to meet their needs - and parent-on-parent sanctions are small and sporadic in any case. How far Bryan will take this argument?  What... MORE

If Merit Did Not Exist

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
The most strident objection to merit pay is that "merit" is utterly subjective.  It's an interesting claim.  But it's hardly an argument for basing pay on seniority.  The natural implication of the unreality of merit, rather, is that we should... MORE

Why Do Unions Oppose Merit Pay?

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Gary Becker off-handedly remarks:Not surprisingly, teachers unions fight hardest against reforms that change the way teachers are paid, especially when they introduce incentives for teachers to perform more effectively.I don't doubt that unions tend to oppose merit pay, but the... MORE

Parents and Peer Pressure Revisited

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
About a year ago, Robin and I disagreed about the importance of parental peer pressure.  I said:Robin's functionalist account: It assumes that other parents care about your parenting far more than they actually do.  In reality, most parents are too... MORE

Return to Solipsism

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
In my "Solipsist's Guide to Comparative Advantage," I showed how, for all practical purposes, trade actually raises worker productivity.  Notice, though, that my example shows the productivity effects of trade if you and I have different absolute advantages: you're a... MORE

A Solipsist's Guide to Comparative Advantage

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
According to extreme solipsism, you're the only person who really exists.  Suppose this strange position were true.  What would it imply for the Law of Comparative Advantage?Consider a standard textbook problem with two agents: you and me.  By hypothesis, I'm... MORE

A Noble Nobel for Medicine

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Robert Edwards, IVF/"test-tube baby" pioneer, has won the Nobel Prize in Medicine.  From the official press release:As early as the 1950s, Edwards had the vision that IVF could be useful as a treatment for infertility. He worked systematically to realize... MORE

My Immigration Podcast

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
My EconTalk podcast inspired by my recent GMU talk is now up.  As usual, Russ Roberts was an incredibly engaging interviewer.  The main novelty: We're such good friends that we decided to make the interview a little more argumentative than... MORE

Immigration and Wages: A Socratic Dialogue

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Glaucon: You're an economist, right?Socrates: Yes, I was recently promoted from philosopher to philosopher-economist.Glaucon: You agree, then, that increasing supply reduces prices.Socrates: All else equal, yes.Glaucon: Well, I've heard some "economists" claim that immigration might actually increase native wages.  ... MORE

The Keynesian Attraction

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Keynesians have been a smug bunch from their earliest days.  Here's how Keynes once replied to Hayek:Thus those who are sufficiently steeped in the old point of view simply cannot bring themselves to believe that I am asking them to... MORE

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