Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: February 2011

An Author Archive by Month (36 entries)

Reflections on World on Fire

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Negative reviews of Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother often begin by praising her earlier book, World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability.  I was inspired to read it - and... MORE

Who Understands the Causes of Poverty?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Me being intentionally provocative on Twitter:The poor rarely understand the causes of poverty; if they did, they wouldn't stay poor for long.I'm aware of the obvious counter-examples, but the basic argument is simple: 1. Most people don't like being poor.2.... MORE

How More Immigration Can Save California

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
I highly recommend Kerr and Kerr's NBER Working Paper, "Economic Impacts of Immigration: A Survey."  Most of the paper just compiles a lot of evidence with which I was already familiar:1. Immigrants have very little effect on native wages.The documented... MORE

Agnostics for Pacifism

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
A striking observation from my childhood friend Ghassan Bridi:Had we never invaded Iraq, we may have seen the people of Iraq today take to the streets and topple a despotic dictator in the second most populous Arab country on this... MORE

In one of my talks at the 2011 International Students for Liberty Conference, I argued that the my views on parenting and kids can and should enter the libertarian penumbra.  Yes, a perfectly good libertarian could believe that nurture is... MORE

The Libertarian Penumbra

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Libertarians are famous for their internal disagreements, but they have far more beliefs in common than their core position requires.  For starters, even non-consequentialist libertarians generally believe that libertarian policies have good consequences.  Almost all libertarians think that free markets... MORE

Kindle Pre-Order Now Available for Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Amazon, the Great Mind Reader, made my new book available for Kindle pre-order shortly before I asked my publisher how to make it happen.   The world really does get better all the time.... MORE

Dude, Where's My Theory of Everything?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Almost all traits run in families.  But why?  People have literally debated the question for thousands of years.  Is the cause nature/heredity/genes, nurture/upbringing/parenting, or some mixture of the two?  Until a few decades ago, the debaters basically just chased their... MORE

The Students for Liberty conference has to be seen to be believed: the attendance (about 500 students), the energy (off the charts), and most remarkably of all, the high social skills.  Twenty years ago, a pack of libertarian students would... MORE

www.bcaplan.com 2.0

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
My website was very cool back when it launched in 1994.  But during the intervening 17 years, fashions have changed.  Perhaps there's even been some unmeasured progress.  So by popular demand http://www.bcaplan.com (mirror site at http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan) has been completely updated,... MORE

The Dimensionality, Evolution, and Influence of Punditry

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday I discovered a remarkable political scientist, Georgetown's Hans Noel.  I learned a lot from him over lunch, but it was his seminar that blew me away.  He presented results from two papers: "Interpreting Legislative Ideal Points with Help From... MORE

Book Marketing Bleg

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Soon I'll start devoting all of my discretionary work hours to marketing Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids.  If you've got practical suggestions for me, please share.  P.S. If you just want to cut out the middleman and buy a... MORE

Will Gay Marriage Lead to the Privatization of Marriage?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Jason Sorens hails an historic bill to privatize marriage in New Hampshire:To my knowledge, HB 569 is the first bill ever drafted and introduced in a legislature that would abolish government marriage licensing. The bill is the brainchild of libertarian... MORE

The most common complaint about Tyler's The Great Stagnation is simply that the title is deliberately misleading.  Stagnation means "no growth," not "slower growth" - but the latter is the most that Tyler claims to show.The complaint is entirely fair. ... MORE

I can't resist quoting my colleague Don Boudreaux latest letter to the editor verbatim:To the Editor:David Brooks appropriately devotes today's column to my GMU Econ colleague Tyler Cowen's important new book "The Great Stagnation" ("The Experience Economy," Feb. 15). Mr.... MORE

Why Do So Many GMU Economists Blog?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I've heard the question many times: "Why do so many GMU economists blog?"  The number and ratio are indeed extraordinary: I count 9 bloggers out of the 28 tenure-line faculty on the department's homepage - not to mention our students... MORE

Commie Cargo Cult

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Frank Dikötter's Mao's Great Famine firmly supports a simple but shocking theory of Communism: It was the largest cargo cult the world has ever seen.  Communist revolutionaries were great at seizing power, but if power were their sole aim, the... MORE

Mao's Great Famine and Depraved Indifference

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
In Mao's Great Famine, Frank Dikötter joins the elite club of historians who live up to their duty to impose "the undying penalty which history has the power to inflict on wrong."  On purely literary terms I still prefer Jasper... MORE

Weather and Turn-Out

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
When I was finishing up The Myth of the Rational Voter, I needed citations on a fact that "everybody knows" - that bad weather depresses voter turnout.  I was surprised by how little evidence I found.  But last night, my... MORE

The Great Pacification

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you grant every nostalgic memory about the wonder of the Fifties.  Stipulate that America was packed with happy prosperous one-earner families, cozily protected by their unions and patriotic employers.  There's still one wee problem to worry about: nuclear war... MORE

Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids Website

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
My official book website, http://www.havemorekidsbook.com, is up.  If you've got suggestions for improvement, please share.... MORE

Anti-Foreign Bias versus Charter Cities

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
From David Wessel's Honduran charter cities piece in the WSJ:"A good idea from an economic point of view," says Antonio Tavel Otero, a Honduran businessman. "But I don't think you can sell this: Telling Hondurans our laws are so bad... MORE

Jewish versus Chinese Parenting

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
A reader sent me this email reflecting on my critique of Amy Chua.  Reprinted anonymously with his permission:Dear Dr. Caplan,You speculate as to why Jews are, on average, successful, and as to whether or not parenting has anything to do... MORE

Gelman on Me, Chua, and Cowen

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Andrew Gelman's got an awfully interesting post on the contrast between me, Amy Chua, and Tyler Cowen.  He's certainly got my number, anyway: Without any personal knowledge of these people (well, I did meet Caplan once and gave him comments... MORE

A Graduation Rate Experiment

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
One of the worst problems with conventional return to education estimates is that they ignore drop-outs.  That's like a bank ignoring defaults when it calculates its return on loans.  According to a recent experiment, a lot of parents ignore drop-out... MORE

Beaulier-Caplan Links

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
"Behavioral Economics and Perverse Effects of the Welfare State," my 2007 Kyklos paper with Scott Beaulier, has been getting belated attention lately thanks to Karl Smith.  Check out comments from Mike Konczal (Rortybomb), M.S. (the Economist), and James Kwak (Baseline... MORE

The Grateful Tiger Daughter

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Unlike most critics of Tiger Mother Amy Chua, I expect her kids to turn out fine.  Why?  Because their genes come from two Yale professors, and contrary to Tiger Mother and her critics alike, upbringing has little long-run effect.  I... MORE

Existence, Enhancement, CPI Bias, and Progress

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
Almost all economists agree that the official Consumer Price Index is biased upwards.  Two key flaws with the CPI: It imperfectly accounts for (a) quality improvements, and (b) new products.  The Boskin Commission famously estimated that the official annual CPI... MORE

The most interesting question to come out of Tyler's Great Stagnation debate is: Why are free-market types so hostile?  Early on, Tyler remarked:I do not hold the view that relative stagnation will last forever, only that it has lasted for thirty-seven... MORE

Steve Miller on Stagnation

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
My co-author Steve Miller's comments on stagnation are not to be missed.  So I'm re-posting them in full.  Here's Steve: This isn't about ideology, for Tyler, Bryan, or anyone else except maybe the progressives giving Tyler's book such glowing reviews.... MORE

Good Ol' Day Time Machine

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
Tyler Cowen's critics include many who think he doesn't go far enough.  One says:it's clear to anyone who grew up in the 50s that if we've havent stagnated, we've regressed...most in my neighborhood had large families which were able to... MORE

CPI Bias Deja Vu

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
I completely agree with Arnold when he remarks:I personally do not think that the stagnation hypothesis can survive the thought experiment in which you offer somebody the choice between (a) today's median income and today's array of goods, services, and... MORE

Dead Ends and Double Standards

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Many activities are Dead Ends.  Dead Ends have the following in common:1. They are extremely labor intensive.2. They attract extremely talented and dedicated people.  You have to be absolutely amazing just to be relatively average.3. Despite #1 and #2, Dead... MORE

Me and the Students for Liberty: Immigration Webinar 2/9, Conference 2/18-2/20

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
On Wednesday, I'm doing a Students for Liberty webinar.  The topic: "Immigration Restrictions: A Solution in Search of a Problem" - or as SfL calls it, "Why Immigration Restrictions are Wacky."  Anyone can sign up to participate here.  There will... MORE

The Tiger Mother versus Cost-Benefit Analysis

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
One of my favorite economists urged me to cut this passage from Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids:Before you do something for your child, try asking yourself three questions.1. Do I enjoy it?2. Does my child enjoy it?3. Are there... MORE

Communism, Revolution, and Optimism

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
The worst thing you can say about a revolutionary situation is, "Things couldn't possibly get worse."  Things can always get worse.  If you have trouble imagining how, just wait for the revolution to unfold.  Events will usually oblige you: see... MORE

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