Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: February 2012

An Author Archive by Month (42 entries)

Sumner on the Mystery of Bernanke

Monetary Policy
Bryan Caplan
Scott Sumner is the latest intellectual detective on the Bernanke case.  The crucial clue is a 2003 piece by Bernanke himself, which states:Ultimately, it appears, one can check to see if an economy has a stable monetary background only by... MORE

"The Case Against Education" Webinar Tonight

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Tonight I'm running a Students for Liberty webinar on my book in progress, The Case Against Education.  Anyone can join at zero price.  Q&A follows the seminar.  If you've got questions about the magic of education, ability bias, the sheepskin... MORE

What Is the Female Marriage Penalty?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Married women earn less than single women.  In the NLSY, married women make 10% less, even after controlling for education, experience, IQ, race, and number of children.  How is this possible?As I explained in my post on the male marriage... MORE

What Is the Male Marriage Premium?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Married men make a lot more money than single men.  In the NLSY, married men make 44% extra, even after controlling for education, experience, IQ, race, and number of children.  How is this possible?There are three competing economic explanations.  Each... MORE

Test the Predictions - Or Check the Assumptions

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Where do economists draw the line between science and dogma?  In most cases, they say something like this: "A model is scientific if and only if it makes true testable predictions."  Perhaps this is why Arnold was dissatisfied by my... MORE

Griswold on Immigration and the Welfare State

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Dan Griswold's "Immigration and the Welfare State" was my favorite in the Cato Journal immigration symposium.  Highlights:False stereotypes notwithstanding, immigrants have an awesome work ethic:The typical foreign-born adult resident of the United States today is more likely to participate in... MORE

Cato Journal Immigration Symposium Round-Up

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
I've now read the full Cato Journal immigration issue cover-to-cover.  Leaving aside my lead article, here are my brief reactions:1. Gordon Hanson, "Immigration and Economic Growth."  Pretty good, especially on the interaction between high-skilled native labor and low-skilled immigrant labor:One... MORE

Tattoos and the Labor Market

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
According to this amusing diagram in Cracked, facial tattoos mean "I will never have a job that pays taxes."  Many economists would presumably insist, "It's not causal.  The kind of people who tattoo their faces just have low productivity."  I... MORE

An 84-Word Reply to Arnold

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Arnold says:I challenge any supporter of the sticky-wage story (Bryan? Scott?) to write a 500-word essay explaining how this graph does not contradict their view. If employment fluctuations consisted of movements along an aggregate labor demand schedule, then employment should... MORE

Huemer at TEDx

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Mike Huemer, my favorite philosopher, spoke at TEDx in Colorado.  Enjoy.... MORE

Refuted By Events

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Did the financial crisis of 2008 refute capitalism once and for all?  I was just on Al Jazeera to debate this question.  My opponents - and, I suspect, my host - thought so.  Obviously I disagreed about capitalism.  But even... MORE

When to Be Meek

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
If you're not getting what you want out of life, people usually advise you to speak up and demand what's coming to you.  You'll never get anywhere just saying "please" and "thank you."  You've got to stand up and assert... MORE

What Bernanke Needed

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
On Matt Yglesias' reading of "Ben Bernanke and the Zero Bound," Laurence Ball is saying that Bernanke needed to be more of a jerk:Former Treasury Secretary and former National Economic Council director Lawrence Summers has always suffered in the eyes... MORE

The Mystery of Bernanke Solved

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Ben Bernanke was my teacher, and a major influence on my macroeconomic thinking.  When he became Fed chairman, I expected the best of him.  I was sorely disappointed.  His behavior as Fed chairman seemed utterly disconnected from his lectures and... MORE

Matt Zwolinski replies to me on Peter Singer's Drowning Child hypothetical.  Matt:Bryan starts off by questioning whether we really have an obligation to save the drowning child. After all, we'd praise someone who rescued a kid in that way as... MORE

How Legal Is Free-Range Parenting?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Law professor and free-range dad David Pimentel carefully reviews the legality of free-range parenting.  Just one case:In State v. Hughes, a father was convicted in a bench trial for leaving his 5-year-old daughter in the air-conditioned cab of his pickup... MORE

The Orphan Not Adopted

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
From Dan Carroll, blogger and adoptive father of a former orphan from Ethiopia:The pattern of behavior from the US Department of State (DOS) is to shut down adoption programs from countries that do not participate in the Hague Convention for... MORE

Imagine Grateful Welfare Recipients

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Imagine the following scenario: Recipients of food stamps, unemployment insurance, Medicaid, and student loans suddenly start expressing daily heartfelt gratitude to the taxpayers who provide for them.  The eager proponents of these programs stop angrily demanding more.  Instead, they spend... MORE

Rand vs. Human Weakness

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I didn't want to goad Krugman by quoting Ayn Rand against him.  So I waited for one day to pass.  This passage from Galt's speech is one of Rand's best:"It's only human," you cry in defense of any depravity, reaching... MORE

What If the Stranger Is a Drowning Child?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I regularly appeal to the moral intuition that we have a strong obligation to leave strangers alone, but little obligation to help them:What are you morally forbidden to do to a stranger?  You may not murder him.  You may not... MORE

Krugman, Human Weakness, and Desert

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Krugman makes fascinating concessions to David Brooks:David says,I don't care how many factory jobs have been lost, it still doesn't make sense to drop out of high school.True enough. But suppose we apply the same logic to another problem, say... MORE

A Search-Theoretic Critique of Georgism

Tax Reform
Bryan Caplan
Economist Henry George famously advocated a 100% (or near 100%) "Single Tax" on the unimproved value of land.  Many modern tax economists, most notably Joseph Stiglitz, conclude that George's logic was sound: Since the unimproved value of land is perfectly... MORE

The Boudreaux Plan to Save the NYT

Regulation and Subsidies
Bryan Caplan
Don Boudreaux, Master of economic ridicule, gets one step closer to unseating Grand Master Frederic Bastiat.  When the NYT calls to raise the minimum wage, Don replies:In the same spirit of demanding that government improve people's economic well-being simply by... MORE

Obamacare Shortages: Why Aren't We Going Sputnik?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
This is the most pessimistic prediction I've seen about how Obamacare will quickly lead to severe rationing of medical care:The greatest threat to the health-care overhaul might not be the Supreme Court, which is scheduled to hear challenges to the... MORE

The Optimal Scapegoat

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
When people complain about politics, they rarely focus on bad ideas, bad policies, or even bad situations.  Instead, the typical complainer focuses on bad people.  Every now and then, these bad people have proper names, like "Bush" or "Obama."  But... MORE

The Puzzling Ethics of Emergency Care

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
The disdain most Americans feel for illegal immigrants appalls me, but it does not surprise me.  What does surprise me: Even though Americans will call a person a "criminal" for accepting a job from a willing employer, they still think... MORE

Ozimek on the Sheepskin Effect

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I think the sheepskin effect is strong evidence in favor of the signaling model of education.  Modeled Behavior's Adam Ozimek's not so sure:[W]hat does it tell you about someone when they have invested a lot of money into college, come... MORE

The Career Consequences of Failing versus Forgetting

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
If you're reading this blog, you probably didn't fail a lot of classes in school.  But I bet that you've totally forgotten a lot of those classes.  I got A's in junior high and high school Spanish, but barely speak... MORE

A Brief Letter on Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I heard a rumor that a famous economist was asking about my book in progress, The Case Against Education.  So I sent him the following email:I heard you were asking about me at the GMU dinner earlier this week.  I... MORE

How Deserving Are the Poor? Debate Wrap-Up

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
The resource page for last week's Caplan-Smith debate is now up, complete with full video.  Here's Karl's post-debate statement.  It's basically a more detailed version of his original statement.  But he does introduce two new points I want to answer:1.... MORE

Being Single Is a Luxury

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I'm baffled by people who blame declining marriage rates on poverty.  Why?  Because being single is more expensive than being married.  Picture two singles living separately.  If they marry, they sharply cut their total housing costs.  They cut the total... MORE

Murray, Frum, and the Hurricane Analogy

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
David Frum's critique of Charles Murray's Coming Apart begins with an analogy:To understand what Murray does in Coming Apart, imagine this analogy: A social scientist visits a Gulf Coast town. He notices that the houses near the water have all... MORE

Don't Judge a Scholar By His Deals

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
When re-reading my recent critique of Robin Hanson's "dealism," I realized that the following could come off as rather harsh:Robin has spent decades proposing unconventional policy deals.  His track record is an abysmal failure.None of this means, however, that Robin... MORE

What Happens When Signaling Gets Cheaper?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Arnold: My understanding of the signaling model is that it depends crucially on the relative cost of signaling to people with and without the desired trait. You want the cost to be high for someone without the trait and low... MORE

Economists' Self-Conception

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Robin grants much of my critique of dealism.  Then he offers a bet:Imagine that economists were surveyed and had to choose how they'd best like to describe economic policy recommendations, as: Morals - Arguing for the morality of actions,Deals -... MORE

The Deal Delusion

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson often describes his normative view as "dealism."  Forget talking about "right and wrong."  Lets take people as they are, and help them hammer out mutually beneficial deals.  Robin's latest word on this topic:My closest colleagues seem to mostly... MORE

Signaling and Vicky Clubs

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Arnold's post on segregation makes several points on the signaling model of education.  I'm here to rebut them.  Arnold's in blockquotes:1. Where Bryan sees college as a useful signaling device for those who are cognitively gifted, I see it as... MORE

Naming the Puppy: Firing Aversion and the Labor Market

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
In fiction (and "reality" television), firing workers almost seems fun.  How many times has Mr. Burns gleefully hissed, "Fire than man, Smithers!"?  In the real world, though, bosses dislike being the bearer of bad news.  They feel guilty when they... MORE

My Two Favorite Graphs From Coming Apart

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I have a predictably optimistic take on Charles Murray's Coming Apart.  But these two graphs did indeed shock me.  The first contrasts divorce rates for working class ("Fishtown") and professional ("Belmont") whites: Notice: Among professionals, divorce plateaued over three decades... MORE

"How Deserving Are the Poor?": My Opening Statement

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Thanks to everyone who attended last night's debate, and especially to Karl Smith for being such a good sport.  In the near future, I'll put up a webpage of debate resources, including full video.  For now, here's my opening statement... MORE

What's So Special About Huemer's New Book?

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
In the comments, Mark V. Anderson asks:I would like to know why you think this book is so extra-special. I read the first chapter for which you provided the link. It was well written, but I saw nothing there that... MORE

A Freedman's Moral Intuition

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
In 1865, a former slave owner mailed a job offer to one of his former slaves.  Here's the highlight of the freedman's response:Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat... MORE

Return to top