Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: August 2011

An Author Archive by Month (32 entries)

Krugman, Landsburg, Pangloss, and Fixed Costs

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Krugman:Think of the government budget as involving tradeoffs similar to those an individual household makes. On one side, there are all kinds of things the government could be doing, from dropping freedom bombs to providing children with dental care; think... MORE

From the original - and surprisingly Snicketesque - Pinnochio: "Tomorrow your five gold pieces will be two thousand!" "Two thousand!" repeated the Cat. "But how can they possibly become so many?" asked Pinocchio wonderingly. "I'll explain," said the Fox. "You... MORE

Don't miss Tyler Cowen's excellent post on the size versus the length of fiscal stimulus.  Key passages:For all the talk of a "large stimulus," you don't hear much about a "longer stimulus."... Ideally a stimulus employs some idle labor, stops... MORE

Aphorism of the Day

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
An economic model is just a story without any holes in it.  A good economic model is a credible story without any holes in it.P.S. Why The Lord of the Rings is a great story but a terrible model.... MORE

The Picoeconomics of Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Economists who study education usually look at the effect of individuals' education on individual income - the standard "microeconomic" approach.  But economists who study education also look at the effect of countries' education on country income - the "macroeconomic" approach. ... MORE

Are Twin Studies "Pretty Much Useless"?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
The latest Slate features a new critique of twin studies by Brian Palmer, entitled "Double Inanity: Twin Studies Are Pretty Much Useless."  Palmer starts with the standard guilt-by-association critique: Galton, the founder of twin studies, "coined the term 'eugenics' and... MORE

Immigration and Crime: Tell Me What You See

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
Compare these GAO statistics on "Federal Prison Illegal Alien Inmates" (p.23) to the Bureau of Justice Statistics table on the "Number of Sentenced Inmates in Federal Prisons" (p.10).  Both sets of figures come from c.2003.  Tell me what you see.... MORE

The Value of the Right of Legal Entry Into the U.S.

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
If you let the U.S. deport you "voluntarily," you retain the right to legally enter again at a later time.  For some people, of course, this is an important right.  For most people facing deportation, though, the right of legal... MORE

Health Insurance, Fairness Norms, and Unemployment

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Nominal wages rarely fall - even when there's high unemployment.  Part of the reason is regulation, of course.  But even under laissez-faire, employers have to cope with human psychology.  Almost all workers think that nominal wages cuts are unfair.  And... MORE

A Tale of "Voluntary Departure" from the Comments

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
From long-time EconLog reader Tim Worstall: Having been caught up in the US system once "voluntary departure" is anything but. On entering the country on a 10 year, multi-entry, business visa (I owned a small business in the US at... MORE

The Return of the Voice of Cold, Hard Truth to All Would-Be Educators

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
More golden advice from Douglas Detterman:[I]f you want people to learn something, teach it to them.  Don't teach them something else and expect them to figure out what you really want them to do.From "The Case for the Prosecution: Transfer... MORE

The Removal/Return Distinction

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Here's a good practical discussion of what the government's removal/return distinction means on the ground.  Suppose you're on the authorities' radar.  You could fight them in court.  But:[I]f one cannot afford to put up such a fight or if one... MORE

Deportations Statistics

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
I've been hearing a lot about Obama's immigration crackdown lately, so I decided to track down some numbers.  The official statistics on deportation run from 1892 to the present.  The key definitions:Removal: "the compulsory and confirmed movement of an inadmissible... MORE

The Efficient, Egalitarian, Libertarian, Utilitarian Way to Double World GDP

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Two words: open borders.  The noble Michael Clemens tells the full story in his new piece in the Journal of Economic Perspectives - ungated.  I'm tempted to blockquote the whole piece, but I'll limit myself to a few highlights (footnotes... MORE

Of Vigilantes and Warriors

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Remember my pacifism debate with Ilya Somin?  No offense to Ilya, but I heard that our hosts invited Robert Bidinotto first.  Bidinotto refused, I'm told, because he's now focused on writing novels.  And what's his novel about?  A vigilante.  But... MORE

Republicans and Technocrats

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
On Monday, Brad DeLong told us that two months in the Clinton administration convinced him that...America's best hope for sane technocratic governance required the elimination of the Republican Party from our political system as rapidly as possible.I'm tempted to say,... MORE

My Worst Parenting Mistake on Freakonomics

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Freakonomics features a quorum of economist-parents on the "worst parenting mistake they ever made."  My previously blogged position on parenthood and regret seemed to tie my hands, but I tried to wriggle out with careful choice of words:My closest thing... MORE

From David Friedman's essay "Laissez-Faire in Population: The Least Bad Solution" (1972):Additional evidence on consumer rationality can be found in secular fertility trends. Over the long term, the net cost of rearing children has been rising because of the movement... MORE

Supply, Demand, and the Rise of the Man-Child

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Consider a traditional society where all the men sell their labor and all the women keep house.  You might think there's only one market, but there are actually two: The labor market and the mating market.  Men use their wages... MORE

Hard-Wired Envy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
If people envy people richer than themselves, I say we should fight envy, not inequality.  A number of people have objected that "Envy is 'hard-wired.'"  They're right - but it doesn't matter.Why not?  Most, if not all, of our emotions... MORE

A Review of My Review

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
From Noah Smith's review of my review of The Happiness Equation:Caplan's solution probably wouldn't work. Michael Lewis describes something like this in Liar's Poker, in which no one at his company ever mentions money, bonuses are kept secret, etc. The... MORE

Freedom for Happiness

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
From my WSJ review of Nick Powdthavee's The Happiness Equation: Mr. Powdthavee deserves credit for concluding his book with some of the big questions: "Is happiness overrated?" "Should government force people to be happy?" But he neglects the many ways... MORE

10:1

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Hawks love the analogy between defensive war and individual self-defense.  But as I keep saying, there's a big difference: so-called "defensive war" almost always involves the deliberate or reckless killing of innocent bystanders.  Why They Die: Civilian Devastation in Violent... MORE

The Effect of Thumb Sucking on Income

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Today I saw The Thumbsucker, a watchable movie about a troubled but talented 17-year-old with a bad thumb sucking habit.  It got me thinking: What's the effect of thumb sucking on income?  If the thumb sucker is flexible enough to... MORE

The Voice of Cold, Hard Truth to All Would-Be Educators

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Tyler often insists that, appearances notwithstanding, he's constantly popularizing free-market ideas.  People just have to read him carefully and in the proper frame of mind.I habitually insist that this isn't good enough.  Either you popularize your point bluntly and clearly,... MORE

Ability, Morality, and Prosperity: A Paper and a Report

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
I first crossed paths with my future debate partner, the noble David Balan, when the AER asked me to referee his paper on ability, morality, and economic performance.  The AER ignored me of of course, but years later, a much-revised... MORE

The Theory of Time and Frittering

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
From Rothbard's biography of Ludwig von Mises, a passage worth remembering:On the publication of his two books in economic history and on the receipt of his doctorate in 1906, Mises ran into a problem that would plague him the rest... MORE

Manning Up's Kay Hymowitz writes the target essay for this month's Cato Unbound.  In the first reaction essay, Jessica Bennett highlights the ways men remain more successful than women:[W]omen will still make up just a third of business-school students and... MORE

Firms are usually picky about who they hire.  But when they spot potential customers, their standard slogan is "Come one, come all."  Sure, there are some exceptions.  A few restaurants still have dress codes, and some rental car companies won't... MORE

Deception, Detection, and Democracy at GenCon

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
At this year's GenCon, I discovered a thought-provoking game: "Are You a Werewolf?" - a.k.a. "Mafia."  The game's a brilliant exploration of cheating, cheater detection, and democratic information aggregation.  The basic set-up:1. There are 15 players and a moderator.  2.... MORE

Keynesianism as a ZMP Story

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
I'm not a fan of Tyler Cowen's view that many unemployed workers have Zero Marginal Product (ZMP).  Cowen and Lemke:In essence, we have seen the rise of a large class of "zero marginal product workers," to coin a term. Their... MORE

How Wage Rigidity is Special

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Both nominal wages and nominal housing prices are what economists call "downwardly inflexible."  In most markets, falling demand swiftly leads to falling prices, and surpluses don't last long.  But in labor and housing markets, market adjustment to negative demand shocks... MORE

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