Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Cross-country Comparisons

A Category Archive (204 entries)
The person who wants to get you fired is not your friend. Daniel S. Hamermesh and Elena Stancanelli recently presented data showing that Americans work longer hours, and more night and weekend hours, than Europeans. I'm not familiar with Professor... MORE

Canadian success

Cross-country Comparisons
Scott Sumner
David Henderson has a very good post on the Canadian economy.  David argues that austerity can be expansionary, and points to the example of Canada in the 1990s. Josh Barro counters that Canada was aided by an expansionary monetary policy:... MORE

Scotland, Quebec, and Tupy

Cross-country Comparisons
David Henderson
Scotland's greater statism and, ironically for the birth place of Adam Smith, suspicion of capitalism, is a potent obstacle to reform in England and Wales. It is also a serious danger to economic prosperity north of the border. Sooner or... MORE

Beyond left and right

Cross-country Comparisons
Scott Sumner
Is British public policy more left wing or right wing, compared to Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Denmark? The Heritage rankings suggest they are about the same, with Denmark coming in at number 10 in the world (at 76.1),... MORE

The Economist: Give Tetlock Final Cut

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
A year ago, The Economist wrote another stylish but insubstantial editorial.  The topic: the Arab Spring.  The opening:Roughly two-and-a-half years after the revolutions in the Arab world, not a single country is yet plainly on course to become a stable,... MORE

Evaluating The Arab Spring: What Would Tetlock Say?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
I was never optimistic about the Arab Spring.  But the spread of the hellish Syrian Civil War into Iraq leaves the net-effect-so-far quite a bit worse than I expected.  You could say, "You're no expert on this topic, so your... MORE

Dear Reader Almost Passes the Ideological Turing Test

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Michael Malice's Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il is not what I expected.  I thought it was going to be a hilarious mockery of North Korean totalitarianism.  Instead, it's an almost pitch-perfect simulation of the autobiography Kim... MORE

Lessons from "The Lives of Others"

Regulation
David Henderson
Our economic lives. A local libertarian group showed the movie, "The Lives of Others," at the Marina Public Library last night. The group invited me to give a few remarks after the showing. What motivated them to show the movie... MORE

A British Perspective on American Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Fun footnote from Gregory Clark's new The Son Also Rises: Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 In my second year as an assistant professor at Stanford University, I was assigned the task of mentoring six freshmen.  Each appeared on paper to have an... MORE

The Worst They Can Do

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
All modern governments do terrible things during wartime.  Most deliberately murder innocents; the rest at least recklessly endanger innocents.  Morally speaking, all sides in any serious military conflict are led by war criminals.Unfortunately, however, these genuine insights often lead my... MORE

Media Bias: RT May Have Less Than I Thought

Cross-country Comparisons
David Henderson
Like many Americans, I have been skeptical about RT, the TV network, previously called "Russia Today," that is funded by the Russian government. That didn't stop me from going on the network because I don't have a policy of going... MORE

Income, Wealth, Happiness, and Ideological Convenience

Cross-country Comparisons
David Henderson
I've had to think long and hard before writing this response to Bryan Caplan's post about income and happiness and Justin Wolfers's response. 1. I start by saying that I'm skeptical about how informative it is to ask people how... MORE

Does happiness cause income?

Cross-country Comparisons
Scott Sumner
Bryan Caplan has a post that discusses the research of Daniel Sacks, Betsey Stevenson, and Justin Wolfers, on the correlation between income and happiness. I'm no expert on this subject, but it seems to me that researchers seem to assume... MORE

The Singaporean Path to Cosmopolitanism

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Singapore has one of the most open immigration polices in the world.  But these policies do not currently enjoy popular support.  According to the World Values Survey, Singaporeans seem more anti-immigration than Americans:Only 4% of Singaporeans favour open borders, and... MORE

For Crying Out Loud, Dineen: Dealing with Long-Held Views that are Wrong

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
David Henderson
At first, you might think this post is just about hockey. But it's not. There's a moral to the story about how we can make the mistake of falling in love with our views simply because they have become part... MORE

Lenin the Prohibitionist

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Mark Lawrence Schrad's new Vodka Politics: Alcohol, Autocracy, and the Secret History of the Russian State is more than good; it's novel.  Despite my long-term interest in Russian history, much of what Schrad had to say was genuinely new to... MORE

Pritchett on Private vs. Government Schools

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
From The Rebirth of Education:Whereas formerly only the elite may have gone to private schools, there has been a massive proliferation of private schools, especially in Asia and Africa.  These budget-level private schools are producing better learning outcomes, often substantially... MORE

Some historians argue that colonialism was an outgrowth of nationalism.  Once the people in the leading industrial powers started to strongly identify as British, French, German, American, or Japanese, they fell in love with the idea of planting their national... MORE

How to Work in France

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
From the Christmas newsletter of a good friend of mine who just got a post-doc in France.  Reprinted with his permission. Names omitted to hinder bureaucratic retaliation.In early March I got accepted for a position in [city redacted] France, and... MORE

Why Nations Fail: A Contrarian Take

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Acemoglu and Robinson's Why Nations Fail has been widely praised and extremely influential.  But one of the most brilliant students I've ever taught, Nathan Smith, provides a contrarian perspective.  According to Nathan, it's......one of the most over-rated books I've ever... MORE

Tupy: Wealth Saves Lives

Cross-country Comparisons
David Henderson
Over at Cato at Liberty, Marian L. Tupy reports the good news on worldwide child mortality. He quotes a UN report: In 2012, approximately 6.6 million children worldwide--18,000 children per day--died before reaching their fifth birthday, according to a new... MORE

Stephen Hicks on War and Philosophy

Cross-country Comparisons
David Henderson
My friend and fellow immigrant from Canada, philosopher Stephen Hicks, has posted a 9-minute video in which he considers the major wars of the 20th century. His point is that philosophy is practical and that one can see that by... MORE

Peace On Earth Is Almost Here

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
The ceaseless ugliness of the news notwithstanding, the Great Pacification continues.  Check out Wikipedia's latest map of Ongoing Military Conflicts, circa October 2012.The minor wars are usually dwarfed by private crime.  Even most of the major wars would have seemed... MORE

In Case of Revolution, Climb Into a Hole

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
In 1968, Abbie Hoffman published Revolution for the Hell of It.  Five years later, this silly title inspired David Friedman to include a chapter called "Revolution Is the Hell of It" in his Machinery of Freedom.  I remember Friedman's words... MORE

Two decades ago, I spent my summer writing my first academic article.  Topic: "The Literature of Nonviolent Resistance and Civilian-Based Defense" (Humane Studies Review, 1994).  I'm still happy with the result.  The piece begins by noting that conservatives' prognosis for... MORE

Prison Sentences: Finally Some Good News

Cross-country Comparisons
David Henderson
One of the scariest facts about the United States is that our governments' rate of incarceration competes for the highest in the world. Why do I say, "competes for" rather than is? Because when a government forcibly keeps its citizens... MORE

U.S. Foreign Policy: The Swiss Perspective?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Switzerland hasn't fought a war since 1815.  The standard explanation is Swiss neutrality.  When other countries fight, the Swiss do not take sides.  As this official Swiss website explains:The advice of Switzerland's popular saint, Nicholas of Flüe (1417-87), "Don't get... MORE

AI and GE: Answers

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Last week I posed the following question from my Ph.D. Micro midterm: Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Suppose artificial intelligence researchers produce and patent a perfect substitute for human labor at zero MC.  Use general equilibrium theory to predict the overall economic... MORE

Letters to Kim Jong-Un

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
A thought-provoking request from the noble Vipul Naik, reprinted with his permission:If you were to write a letter to Kim Jong-Un with suggestions on how to improve living conditions in North Korea, what would you write in the letter? Assume... MORE

Worstall on Cyprus and Russians

Cross-country Comparisons
David Henderson
In response to my post earlier today, Tim Worstall wrote me. He quoted this from my review: We have examples of highly extractive governments even in the modern world. One shocking one, to me at least, is the case of... MORE

Acemoglu and Robinson on the Wealth of Nations

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
David Henderson
Acemoglu and Robinson divide countries into two types: extractive and inclusive. In extractive countries, one group--usually a very small minority--uses coercive power to grab wealth from and, often literally, enslave a larger group. In inclusive countries, political power is widely... MORE

Henderson on John Stossel Show

Fiscal Policy
David Henderson
John Stossel's show tonight on the Fox Business Channel (9:00 p.m. EST and 6:00 p.m. PST) is about the sequester, budget cuts, crazy government programs, etc. I sat in the green room and watched almost all of it and it's... MORE

Respect for Authority: The Case of Canada

Cross-country Comparisons
David Henderson
Last September, my friend Stephen Cox wrote an excellent obituary of another friend of mine, Ronald Hamowy. Here's one paragraph that got me thinking: Ronald was a professor in the Department of History at the University of Alberta from 1969... MORE

Democracy in Singapore

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
The Singaporean blog TR Emeritus recently reprinted my "How I See Singapore," prompting critical response.  The main complaint is that I ignorantly claim that Singapore is a democracy.  I understand the pushback.  Singapore gets mediocre scores on international democracy ratings... MORE

Why didn't 19th and early 20th century empires massively raise productivity per worker in their colonies?  Why have the big improvements in productivity almost always happened after the imperialists either left or genuinely turned over power to the locals?  This... MORE

Why So Little Exploitation of Developing Countries?

Cross-country Comparisons
Garett Jones
The internet tells me that people in rich countries exploit people in poor countries.  If that's true--a claim I don't deny, since humans are routinely awful to each other--then people in rich countries are really bad at it.  Just like... MORE

Independence and Growth

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Garett interestingly builds on Lucas' fact that "with the exception of Hong Kong, no massive economic modernization has ever happened in a colony."  Still, I'm unimpressed on multiple levels.1. How about Macao?  If you count so-called "settler societies," then you... MORE

How I See Singapore

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Scott Sumner returns from Singapore with many fascinating observations, including:My guide told me that when western academics come to Singapore, the leftists tend to love the place and the libertarians often go home in disgust.I'm as libertarian as they come,... MORE

Why Is the National Return to Education So Low?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Like Garett, I'm a huge admirer of Lant Pritchett's "Where Has All the Education Gone?" (World Bank Economic Review, 2001).  My favorite part of the paper is when Pritchett presents three stories that might explain his results:I discuss three possibilities... MORE

Cuba to Open Its Border (Outwards)

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Starting in January, Cubans will no longer need exit visas to leave their workers' paradise.  Just one problem: Are there any First World countries that will let them come?For that matter, what's the best Third World country that will let... MORE

Two Verdicts on Two Replies to Two Replies

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
1. Garett and Me on EvilMy reply to Garett:I'd be much more impressed by an experiment showing that subjects spontaneously try to hurt others.  Suppose you tell them they can pay some money in order to change others' endowments.  Start... MORE

True by Definition: Redistribution and Economic Freedom

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
My main complaint about Scott Sumner is that he still hasn't joined the faculty of George Mason's Economics Department.  But I'm also unhappy about the distinction he frequently makes between "size of government" (or "redistribution") and "market freedom."  The latest... MORE

Trustworthiness > Trust

Cross-country Comparisons
Garett Jones
The academic literature is filled with research into the importance of trust.  High-trust societies are richer, safer, just better. But I suspect that it's not trust that's valuable: it's trustworthiness.  When people are trustworthy, when cultures and laws make honorable... MORE

The Latest Batch from the NBER

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
1. Robert J. Barro writes, Convergence at a 2% rate implies that it takes 35 years for half of an initial gap to vanish and 115 years for 90% to disappear. Convergence-rate parameters are important to pin down because they... MORE

The Upper Hand Heuristic

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
As Adam Smith explains, treating other people well is often in our narrow self-interest: It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own... MORE

Final Reply to Ridley

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Matt Ridley once again graciously responds in the comments.  Our differences appear to have largely evaporated.  Ridley's in blockquotes, I'm not.But your challenge mistakes my argument. I have not argued that there is no positive correlation of innovation with population,... MORE

Ridley, Simon, Population, and Innovation

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Matt Ridley ends his excellent Julian Simon Award Lecture with a criticism: Having paid homage to Julian Simon's ideas, let me end by disagreeing with him on one thing. At least I think I am disagreeing with him, but I may be... MORE

Does Portugal Show the Signaling Model Is Wrong?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Tyler mischievously taunts me on Twitter:Good thing the Portuguese saved all those resources which Sweden wasted on signaling.On MR he adds:In 2009, only 30 percent of Portuguese adults had completed high school or its equivalent, according to figures from the... MORE

Firing Aversion: A Cross-Cultural Study

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Thanks to EconLog readers, I've finally located some real empirics on what I call "firing aversion" (see here, here, and here).  My favorite piece so far: "Cultural Influences on Employee Termination Decisions" (European Management Journal, 2001).  The authors analyze a... MORE

Thanks for many good answers on the Kim dynasty vs. the stationary bandit model.  But as far as I can tell, no one drew the distinction I was looking for: durability versus stability.The Kim dynasty is clearly durable: it's ruled... MORE

The Kim Dynasty vs. the Stationary Bandit Model

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Question from the final exam for my graduate Public Choice class:The Kim family has ruled North Korea for three generations.  Doesn't the stationary bandit model imply that the country should be prospering?  If so, what's wrong with the stationary bandit... MORE

Education Signaling in China

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Yang, a Manchester student from China, emailed me some interesting observations about education signaling in China.  Reprinted with his permission.Professor Caplan, Your signalling model is illuminating. Allow me to furnish you with some data from China. After secondary schooling, students in China... MORE

French versus American Parenting

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
David Henderson
Relax. That's my summary of an article by Pamela Druckerman in today's Wall Street Journal by an American woman who noticed that French kids tend not to be brats to the same degree that American kids are. It's more grist... MORE

Quiggin on the Caplan-Quiggin Bet

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
In 2009, I bet John Quiggin that Europe's unemployment would average at least 1.5 percentage-points higher than the United States over the following decade.  Quiggin's update:Until now, I've been consistently ahead. EU-15 and US unemployment rates were very close during... MORE

Planets, Life, and the Fermi Paradox

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Since junior high, I've believed that the galaxy is full of planets and intelligent life.  But it wasn't until I was in my thirties that I heard of the Fermi Paradox.  You can boil the paradox down to a sentence:... MORE

The Indian Economies

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Timothy Taylor has a nice summary of a very long article on India. (Another article in this issue of the Journal of Economic Literature, on labor supply elasticity, clocked in at over 100 pages. If you are looking for an... MORE

Your Thoughts on the Eurasian Union

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Three days ago Russian, Kazakhstan, and Belarus formed the Eurasian Union, designed to do for the former Soviet bloc what the EU did for Europe:[E]xperts stated that apart from post-Soviet states, membership to the Eurasian Union could be expanded to... MORE

The Great Factor-Price Equalization, Two Views

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Timothy Taylor writes, The African Development Bank reports: "Recent estimates put the size of the middle class in the region in the neighborhood of 300 to 500 million people, representing the population that is between Africa's vast poor and the... MORE

More on the Economic Freedom Indexes

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
David has posted on this already. But I want to quote from the Executive Summary. Hong Kong retains the highest rating for economic freedom, 9.01 out of 10. The other nations among the top 10 are: Singapore (8.68); New Zealand... MORE

We're Number 10! We're Number 10!

Cross-country Comparisons
David Henderson
The latest issue of Economic Freedom of the World, written by James Gwartney, Robert Lawson, and Joshua Hall, was released this week. You can find the whole thing here. The United States has slipped from #6 last year to #10... MORE

Housing Finance in Other Countries

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
In the Richmond Fed bulletin, Renee Haltom writes, The United States finds itself on the far end of the spectrum in many aspects of housing. At the funding level, the United States has the most government support of owner-occupied housing... MORE

A Quick Case for Charter Cities: Memo to the Gates Foundation

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has an interesting accountability mechanism.  After they make a major funding decision, they solicit pro and con memos on "roads not taken" - other ways they could have spent their money.  Since the Gates... MORE

Three Thoughts on Italy

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
1. After ten more days of observation, I've grown a lot more optimistic about Italian living standards.  Now I'd say that GDP per capita is overstated by 25% rather than 100%.  If I'm right about this, Italy is a powerful... MORE

How Overvalued is Italy?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Whenever economists ask, "Where is the gap between official per capita GDP and actual living standards the greatest?," I don't pause.  My instant answer is always: Italy.  Official stats put its GDP per capita around $30,000.  But virtually every part... MORE

The Future of Egypt: Time to Go On the Record

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
One good way to guard against hidesight bias is to publicly state your odds in advance.  The Iranian Revolution, for example, spurred a wave of cock-eyed optimism around the world.  But before long, theocracy and bloody warfare left Iran in... MORE

Free Speech for Them but Not for Us

Cross-country Comparisons
David Henderson
Does Hillary Clinton Understand Irony? On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech at George Washington University in which she criticized foreign governments for cracking down on freedom of speech. In her audience was a retired CIA official,... 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

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

China, India, and Maoist Apologists

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
I do not reply to email from Nazi or Communist apologists.  I don't even write back to say, "I refuse to dignify your email with a response," because that would be a response.  I regard the defenders of totalitarianism as... MORE

Nutter Russia

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Warren Nutter (1923-1979) was a prescient detractor of the Soviet economy.  Only today, though, did I learn (through my colleague David Levy) that Nutter actually toured the USSR in 1956 - and shared his observations in U.S. News and World... MORE

Culture and Institutions

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Fred Pryor has a new book, called Capitalism Reassessed, a title which does not really say what the book is about. He uses various qualitative data sources to classify OECD economies into subsets. Some excerpts from the book below the... MORE

Bond Bubble Watch

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Jonathan D. Ostry, Atish R. Ghosh, Jun I. Kim, and Mahvash S. Qureshi write, at 5 percent of GDP below the debt limit, the government should be able to borrow at the risk-free rate; but as debt rises by 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

Drugs, Death, Censorship, and Singapore

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Singapore doesn't just execute drug dealers; it censors and arrests those who expose the ghoulish process:A veteran British journalist and author promoting his book on the death penalty in Singapore was arrested in the country today for alleged criminal defamation... MORE

Traditional Third World Elites: A Qualified Defense

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
My parents and teachers raised me to despise traditional Third World elites - not kleptocrats like Mobutu or Marcos, who were barely on their radar, but anyone who lived well in the midst of poverty.  "The extremes of wealth and... MORE

Retirement Policy Question

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Is there any country on earth that partly bases retirement benefits on the retirees' number of children?... MORE

Murphy's Law

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Economist Bob Murphy volunteered to help with Haitian earthquake relief.  It's quite a story.  The peak:[T]he Haitians who interacted with our base was that the locals viewed us with suspicion. In particular, when they would see a team of HODR... MORE

The Further Fact-Checking of Garett Jones

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
My colleage Garett Jones points out that the "one-third of Greeks work for the government" factoid appeared almost verbatim in a May 1 NYT piece, and still hasn't been corrected: The government's proposals for deep spending cuts pushed by the... MORE

The Fact-Checking of Garett Jones

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
My admirable colleage Garett Jones points out that according to my source for German government employment, Greek government employment is only 14% of the labor force, not a third as the New York Times originally reported.The NYT apparently deleted the... MORE

What's the Greek Economy Really Like?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Scott Sumner was talking about Greece months before its fiscal woes put it on the front page.  This passage was so vivid it stuck with me:Before delving into the numbers, I'd like to first try to dissuade you from thinking... MORE

Intra-National HDI

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Even though I think the Human Development Index is fairly bogus, I still found this report on intra-American HDI quite interesting.  Most striking factoid: white Americans stand about half-way between the "most-developed" group (Asians) and the "least-developed" group (Native Americans).HT:... MORE

China and India

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Pranab Bardhan writes, The Indian informal sector (including both farms and household enterprises outside agriculture), much larger than that in China, has been mostly privately owned; even now it employs nearly 94 percent of the labor force. But many of... MORE

Singaporean Pragmatism

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has joined the club of Singaporean officials who enlist me in the defense of their status quo.  From The Straits Times:IT WAS on his first visit here in 2008 that American economist Bryan Caplan... MORE

More Evidence for Block

Cross-country Comparisons
David Henderson
Bryan, in his earlier post today, refers to an excellent quote from Walter Block that I hadn't been aware of. I have some striking evidence for it that suggests that Walter actually understated the case. Here's the story. In about... MORE

Sumner Gets Blockian

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Walter Block on measuring economic freedom:[I]t has long been my experience that whenever any person reasonably but not fully sophisticated in economics sees the findings of these studies [of economic freedom], he invariably objects on the ground that his own... MORE

Russ Roberts is Wrong

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
He writes, The U.S. government borrows money easily because we're the tallest pygmy. But if we keep spending money like a drunken sailor, we will get shorter and more responsible nations will soon tower over us. We are not the... MORE

Various

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
John Taylor is interviewed. I recommend clicking on "interview transcript," since it is faster to skim and read than to watch an interview. At one point, the interviewer poses a question from Scott Sumner on whether the Fed was too... MORE

Paul Romer on Haiti

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
He writes, There is a natural complementary approach that is a much better bet than giving colonialism another chance--letting Haitians migrate somewhere with better governance and rules. This is the surest answer to the question posed in the beginning. It... MORE

Alabama vs. the E.U.

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Super-Economy serves Krugman some fine economic ridicule:Alabama has the same per capita income and slightly faster growth rate as the Social Democratic EU.15, which Krugman wants us to believe is a "Dynamic" region that the US should "learn from". Has... MORE

The Solow Model and Soviet Growth Optimism

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Brad DeLong makes a determined effort to explain why Samuelson and his fellow textbook writers' optimism about Soviet growth was a reasonable extension of the Solow model.  My point-by-point critique:Economists who used PPP and production functions to predict that the... MORE

Pro-Soviet Neocons?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Matt Yglesias has an interesting reaction to my post on pro-Soviet economists:If you look at the issue through an international relations lens, or through a focus on US domestic politics, you'll get a different picture. The main political tendency inclined... MORE

FP2P Watch

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Robert Fogel writes, In many ways, China is the most capitalist country in the world right now. In the big Chinese cities, living standards and per capita income are at the level of countries the World Bank would deem "high... MORE

FP2P Watch

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Daron Acemoglu writes, On one side of the border fence, in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, the median household income is $30,000. A few feet away, it's $10,000. On one side, most of the teenagers are in public high school, and... MORE

Why Were American Econ Textbooks So Pro-Soviet?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
When I was in Econ 1, we actually used the infamous 1989 Samuelson text - the one that said, "the Soviet economy is proof that, contrary to what many skeptics had earlier believed, a socialist command economy can function and... MORE

The Myth of Shock Therapy

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
If Russia really had "shock therapy" in the early nineties, how come it didn't move out of the bottom decile of the Economic Freedom of the World index until 2002?  Is moving from the bottom decile to the next-to-bottom decile... MORE

Book 1 and Book 2 Watch

Institutional Economics
Arnold Kling
Paul Gregory writes, China and russia in the 1980s offer a unique case study in why some reforms work and others do not. The contrast refutes the notion that a strong, perhaps totalitarian state, is required for successful reform. In... MORE

How Singapore's #1

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
A new international Gallup survey on migration preferences finds that the U.S. is the most popular dream destination.  Singapore, however, is #1 on the Potential Net Migration Index, which adjusts for population:The Potential Net Migration Index is the estimated number... MORE

Hitting a Nerve in Singapore

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
After Singapore's Law Minister used my article in Ethos to rebut international criticism, Singapore's Online Citizen asked permission to run a longer version of "Two Paradoxes of Singaporean Political Economy."  Reactions were... mixed.  Several readers backed me up:I would say... MORE

Education and Growth

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Ed Glaeser writes, no variable from 1900 better explains success in 2000 than investment in education. That is, if you had a high percentage of the school-age population enrolled in school in 1900, you would have a high GDP per... MORE

When Americans visit Europe, they see a lot to like: Charming boulevards, delicious food, and historic cities that feel safe.  When Europeans visit the U.S., it's not so pretty: While major American cities are impressive, their inhabitants can be more... MORE

Denmark and Sweden: Expectations versus Experience

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
I'm amazed by how many Swedes knew about my list of Scandinavian expectations.  Now that I'm back, I'm ready to compare expectations to experience:1. Denmark and Sweden will be more aesthetically pleasing than most of the U.S., but markedly less... MORE

Denmark and Sweden: What I'm Expecting

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Today I start my trip to Denmark and Sweden.  I'll be lecturing at CEPOS in Copenhagen, and the Research Institute of Industrial Economics and Mont Pelerin Society meetings in Stockholm.  Since I've never visited either of these paragons of the... MORE

Obama to Africa: Don't Imitate Me

Cross-country Comparisons
David Henderson
In his speech yesterday in Ghana, President Obama said, among other things: No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top. and But what America will do is increase assistance for responsible... MORE

Isn't That Just an Asian Effect?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Over at Freakonomics, Justin Wolfers shares a graph showing how different nations are faring during this recession. His take: "the greater your involvement in producing high-value goods, the harder the fall."  My take on the same graph: Asian economies are... MORE

Thumbs Up for Portfolios of the Poor

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I really liked Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 A Day.  Westerners tend to think of the world's bottom billion as charity cases. The harsh and amazing reality, though, is that they largely stand on... MORE

Quiggin Takes My Euro-Bet

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
I'm pleased to report that noted blogger John Quiggin has accepted a slightly revised version of my proposed bet on European unemployment.  The only revision: I sweetened the point spread to 1.5 percentage-points.  Average European unemployment must be at least... MORE

The Nuances of EU Unemployment

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
When I compare U.S. and European unemployment, critics often object that Europe is heterogeneous.  Fair enough, but you can make the same objection to any generalization.  The U.S. is diverse, too.  How often can you silence critics of the U.S.... MORE

Against the Human Development Index

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
The authors of the "U.S. Unemployment Rate Now as High as Europe" report have turned down my bet.  One of the authors did however counter-offer a bet that Scandinavia's scores on the Human Development Index would beat America's at the... MORE

Luck, Wealth, and Immigration

Cross-country Comparisons
David Henderson
In his column in yesterday's New York Times, Cornell University economist Robert Frank writes: Another important message of recent research is that a person's salary depends far more on where she is born than on her talent and effort. For... MORE

Financial Crises, Debt Finance, and Emerging Economies

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
Ravi Balakrishnan and others write, Evidence from past systemic banking crises in advanced economies (the US in the 1980s and Japan in the 1990s) shows that the decline in capital flows to emerging economies tends to be sizeable. Since then,... MORE

Singapore's Independence: What Was the Point?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
In his From Third World to First, Lee Kuan Yew admits that his original political motivation was simply nationalism:The Japanese occupation... aroused my nationalism and self-respect, and my resentment at being lorded over.  My four years as a student in... MORE

Israel, Palestine, and the Enlightened Preference Approach

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
A while back, I gave EconLog readers a primer on the "Enlightened Preference" approach to policy.  The key idea is that you give subjects two surveys.  The first tests objective knowledge; the second elicits policy preferences.  The idea is to... MORE

Hong Kong: The Envy of Lee Kuan Yew

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
In Lee Kuan Yew's massive From the Third World to the First: The Singapore Story, 1965-2000, there is only one country that he positively seems to envy: Hong Kong.  In his view, Hong Kong had a less favorable starting point... MORE

Two Paradoxes of Singaporean Political Economy

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
I've finished my paper for Ethos, the journal of Singapore's Civil Service College.  From the intro (footnotes omitted):Officially, Singapore is a democracy.  When you compare it to almost any other democratic country, though, Singapore has two deeply puzzling features.  Puzzle... MORE

Morning Commentary

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
Amar Bhide writes, Regulators apparently succumbed to the idea, peddled by financiers and modern theorists, that if a little financial innovation was good, a lot must be great--even if it was far outside their capacity to monitor. Thanks to Reihan... MORE

Singapore Fact of the Day

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
The opposition parties which competed in the 1997 and 2001 general elections are all to the political "left" of the PAP [the ruling People's Action Party], while the PAP occupies the center-right.  There is no right-wing opposition. (Mauzy and Milne,... MORE

Is Europe Insolvent?

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Jagadeesh Gokhale writes, By 2020, the average EU country will need to raise the tax rate to 55 percent of national income to pay promised benefits. In other words, their Social Security systems are in worse shape than ours.... MORE

Kidney Selling Coming Soon to Singapore!

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
The sweet voice of reason works swiftly in Singapore.  Less than six months after I blogged about its Health Minister's interest in legalizing kidney sales, it's "almost certain to pass into law after another reading in Singapore's government-dominated parliament."  The... MORE

From Singapore Politics Under the People's Action Party:Lee Kuan Yew believes in eugenics.  Among others, he has been influenced by Professor H.J. Eysenck, an expert on measuring intelligence who visited Singapore in 1987.  Lee states that his views are a... MORE

Moderate Muslim Malaysia: What I Saw

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
People often point to Malaysia as a good example of a "moderate Muslim nation."  So when I took a side trip to Kuala Lumpur and Malacca, I was curious to see moderate Islam with my own eyes.  What's it like... MORE

An Ode to Speakers Corner (mocking the regulation of their public speakers' forum), Ode to Romancing Singapore (mocking the government's natalist campaign), and this cartoon mocking the government's use of security cameras:I've seen lots of political satire on professors' doors... MORE

Democracy in Singapore: How Is One-Party Rule Possible?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Americans often describe Singapore as a "dictatorship."  I've occasionally done so myself.  After further study, though, I've concluded that this view is simply wrong.  Singapore is a democracy in practice as well as theory.  Yes, the ruling People's Action Party... MORE

Singapore Gives Thanks

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Here's my favorite plaque in all of Singapore, displayed on the Dalhousie Obelisk:Which reminds me: If you're sharing today's meal with a protectionist, remember that the best side dish for a turkey dinner is an oversized helping of economic education. ... MORE

Singapore: Where Do I Start?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
If you'll forgive the allusion, I tempted to open with "I've seen the future, and it works!"  But the quote is apt: If Asia stays on course for the next three decades, China will be a massive version of Singapore... MORE

"The American Disease": View from 1989

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Here's a striking paragraph from 1989:It was in Singapore that I first heard of the "American Disease," a primary symptom of which is living beyond one's means. A significant dimension of this pathology often is a slowing of productivity gains.... MORE

Mr. Caplan Goes to Singapore

Upcoming Events
Bryan Caplan
I leave for Singapore on Saturday.  I will be giving two public lectures there on Tuesday, 11/18:A seminar on The Myth of the Rational Voter at the Civil Service College from 9:30 to 11:30 AM.A lecture on Selfish Reasons to... MORE

Watch Walter Block Defend Common Sense, Part 2

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
This is truly insightful:[I]t has long been my experience that whenever any person reasonably but not fully sophisticated in economics sees the findings of these studies [of economic freedom], he invariably objects on the ground that his own country is... MORE

Why Don't the Chinese Learn from Singapore?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
I can vaguely understand why Western democracies won't deign to emulate Singapore's miraculously cheap and effective health care system.  But when the Chinese ignore Singapore and copy Western socialized medicine, I can only roll my eyes in disgust:China has unveiled... MORE

I'm Going to See Singapore for Myself!

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
After many posts about Singapore, I'm finally going to see it first-hand. I'll arrive on 11/16 and leave on 11/24, with a side trip to Kuala Lumpur toward the end. Besides giving talks, I'll also be doing some field work.... MORE

Public Opinion About Trade in the Muslim World

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
A new World Public Opinion survey of Muslims in seven nations finds that solid majorities favor globalization and trade:Asked about "globalization, especially the increasing connections of our economy with others around the world," majorities in six of the seven nations... MORE

Remembering '68

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
It's the 40th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Many Czechs and Slovaks remember, but here's a shocking factoid:In a 2006 visit to the Czech capital, then-president Vladimir Putin expressed Russia's 'moral responsibility' for crushing the Prague Spring. However,... MORE

Singaporean Sense

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
It looks like Singapore is once again going to win the prize for Most Economically Literate Bureaucracy. Here's what the Health Minister of Singapore has to say about human kidney markets:Singapore is considering legalising kidney trading to help meet demand... MORE

Switzerland

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
I am trying to learn more about the political system of Switzerland. The country has 23 cantons, each with its own parliament! I can find the population of each canton and the number of members in each parliament. I am... MORE

Well-Denominated

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Here's my last gasp of Europhilia: The Euro has much better denominations than the dollar. Instead of $1 bills, they've got 1€ and 2€ coins, worth about $1.50 and $3.00 respectively. Tipping's a lot easier; so are vending machines. The... MORE

Pick Your Road: The U.S. vs. Europe

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
In the U.S., we have low gas taxes, low car taxes, few tolls, strict zoning that leads developers to provide lots of free parking, low speed limits, lots of traffic enforcement, and lots of congestion. In Europe (France and Germany... MORE

In Germany, most highways have no speed limits at all. In France, all highways have speed limits, but there appears to be virtually zero enforcement. I was on the roads of France for almost a week, and I never saw... MORE

My Favorite Fifteen Minutes in Europe...

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
...was riding the Hasenhorn in the the Black Forest town of Todtnau. Fifteen minutes in a skilift to the top of a mighty mountain in the middle of nowhere, followed by a three kilometer toboggan track back down to the... MORE

France Bet With Franck

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Raphael Franck, a French Israeli professor, has been visting at the Public Choice Center for the last two years. He leaves for good on Saturday. And in the true GMU spirit, we've worked out a bet as a going-away present.... MORE

Reflections on the Evolution in France

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
I'm back from Europe. Though I'm still playing catch up, here are a couple of observations from my travels: 1. I've often heard people claim that "You can become American, but you can't become French." All my experience in France... MORE

The Best Things European

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Tonight I'm headed to Europe for the first time since 2001. Unlike Tyler Cowen, I can't provide lists of the five best long-haired archaeologists from Monaco. So you'll have to settle for my list of the Best Things European. Here... MORE

Cuba and Capitalist Contagion

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Thinking about Cuba's prospects reminded me of Sobel and Leeson's neat chapter on "The Spread of Global Economic Freedom" in the 2007 Economic Freedom of the World study. In this piece, Sobel and Leeson use spatial econometrics to see whether... MORE

Look at Cuba

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Michael Stastny writes, Cubans don't have access to "world news" (no foreign newspapers, no internet, no satellite dishes), so the people I talked with were actually quite happy with their situation ("We don't earn much, but as opposed to other... MORE

An Amazing Map

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Check this out: The 50 U.S. states have been renamed for countries with similar GDPs. You'll learn as much about America as you will about the world.... MORE

Singapore: The Deal-Breaker

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
The world - including the U.S. - can learn a lot from Singapore. (See here and here). But would I want the U.S. to become Singapore - that is, to replace our current package of policies with theirs? No. The... MORE

From Singapore's Success by Henri Ghesquiere:Malaya and the British saw in the union [between Malaysia and Singapore] a way to help Lee, and themselves, prevent Singapore, then a hotbed of communist agitation, from becoming an Asian Cuba.Talk about a near... MORE

Localized GDP

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
William Nordhaus has G-econ The basic metric is the regional equivalent of gross domestic product. Gross cell product (GCP) is measured at a 1-degree longitude by 1-degree latitude resolution at a global scale. Richard Florida offers the pointer. As he... MORE

Libertarians, Take Your Pick: U.S. or Singapore?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
I just had a fascinating chat with two extremely economically literate Singaporean civil servants. It suggested a challenge for libertarians: If you had to choose the system of government and policies as a package, which would you pick: the U.S.... MORE

$1 for the Hands of Victory?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Esquire features a fascinating story in pictures: The seven wonders of the totalitarian world. This article reminds me that it's time to renew my call to privatize Lenin's mummy. I wish I could make the same suggestion for the other... MORE

Asian Development Bank Says I'm Right About China

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
I recently doubted that the Chinese economy lives up to its reputation. Now the Financial Times says that the Asian Development Bank is backing me up:In a little-noticed mid-summer announcement, the Asian Development Bank presented official survey results indicating China’s... MORE

Poor Vs. Ultra-Poor

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
The International Food Policy Institute reports, the ultra poor are overwhelmingly concentrated in one region—Sub-Saharan Africa is home to more than three-quarters of the world’s ultra poor. Sub-Saharan Africa is also the only region in the world in which there... MORE

Is Chinese Growth Credible?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
I've long been skeptical of Chinese growth numbers. I don't doubt that China's economy is growing rapidly, but year after year of 10% growth seems incredible. In addition to the generic argument for doubting extreme numbers, we have the long... MORE

Last week, I posed the question "Why don't Hispanics beg in America?" - and inspired this poignant essay by Venezuelan writer Ibsen Martinez:The emigrant is not only fleeing poverty. By deciding to leave his country he is fending off faulty... MORE

Taking "Looking on the Bright Side" Too Far

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
I'm all for looking on the bright side of things, but I'm stunned that someone could be upbeat about post-colonial Africa. But someone is: Charles Kenny asks "Is Africa a Failure?," and almost says No:[C]omparative performance in economic growth is... MORE

Adaptive Efficiency

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Austan Goolsbee writes, Perhaps the greater amount of uncertainty and churn in the world economy in the 1990s is the new norm. Perhaps the 21st century will continually favor those who adjust best to changes. As Professor Van Reenen put... MORE

Of Bones and Pomeranian Grenadiers

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Edward Luttwak writes, We devote far too much attention to the middle east, a mostly stagnant region where almost nothing is created in science or the arts—excluding Israel, per capita patent production of countries in the middle east is one... MORE

Word Inflation: Disappointment Is Not Collapse

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Arnold's surprise surprises me. 0% growth for one decade during the next four in countries with plenty to eat counts as a "collapse"? I think both Arnold and I would scoff if, say, Krugman claimed that the incomes of the... MORE

One reader tells me that the Wall St. Journal's op-ed page has spent the last twenty years claiming that Europe is on the "verge of collapse." Googling "Wall St. Journal Europe 'verge of collapse'" turns up little or nothing. In... MORE

How Europe Goes Wrong

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Tyler continues to baffle me. Now he's deeply misstating the free-market case against European social democracy: Market-oriented types look at Europe and think it is on the verge of collapse, when it isn't. They can't imagine that it doesn't, in... MORE

Ethiopia Bleg

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Does anyone know anything about economic freedom in Ethiopia? I'm going to be on a panel where this would be useful knowledge to have - and unfortunately, Ethiopia does not yet seem to be included in the Economic Freedom of... MORE

China and India

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
In the February 12 issue of National Review, not yet available on line, John O'Sullivan writes, Several estimates suggest that China, India, and the U.S. will between them account--and roughly account equally--for three-quarters of world GDP by mid-century...The same estimates...show... MORE

Milton Friedman, Hated Conservative

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Shortly before he died, Milton Friedman gave the Wall Street Journal an email interview. China has maintained political and human collectivism while gradually freeing the economic market. This has so far been very successful but is heading for a clash,... MORE

The Immigration Indicator

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Henrik Rasmussen writes, estimates of Danes living in London vary between 35,000 and 70,000, which is roughly 1% of the total Danish population of 5.4 million. According to the leading Copenhagen business daily Børsen, the average income of these Danish... MORE

The Entrepreneurial Society

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
In my latest essay, I write, Continental Europe is set up to preserve large public sectors, large banks, and large corporations. For individuals, the promise is stable jobs, a stable business environment, and collective sharing of the costs of unemployment,... MORE

Orwell and War Socialism

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
The Economist blog suggests we give George Orwell a booby prize for his 1941 declaration that World War II proved the superiority of socialism over capitalism: The first award goes, post-humously, to Mr George Orwell, socialist writer, who penned these... MORE

Nobel Laureate Phelps Speaks

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Rather, he writes a provocative, important piece in today's Opinion Journal (via the Wall Street Journal). There are two economic systems in the West. Several nations -- including the U.S., Canada and the U.K. -- have a private-ownership system marked... MORE

Governance Indicators

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
The World Bank has assembled indicators of the quality of governance in 213 countries. The researchers are making the underlying data available to researchers, so I can imagine many regressions being run to try to see which indicators best correlate... MORE

Belief in Communism

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
I've discovered a gem of a book on public opinion in the former Soviet bloc: Values and Political Change in Postcommunist Europe by William Miller, Stephen White, and Paul Heywood. In the mid-late '90's, they surveyed people in Russia, Ukraine,... MORE

Demographics of the Oligarchs

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
You've heard about the Russian "oligarchs," right? They're the richest men in Russia. The insinuation is almost invariably that they owe their riches not to entrepreneurial ability, but to political connections. It's not "what you know," but "who you know,"... MORE

Business Regulation and Economic Development

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
A World Bank Study is filled with information on the cost of doing business in various countries. For example, they rank countries using an overall index. New Zealand has the most business-friendly regulation in the world, as measured by the... MORE

Kiwispeak

Cross-country Comparisons
Eric Crampton
Jacqueline asks in the comments about restrictions on political speech in New Zealand. First, nobody's restricted against using the term argy-bargy. In fact, it's used rather frequently. I heard it on the radio this morning driving into work. Strange place.... MORE

Further Kiwiana

Cross-country Comparisons
Eric Crampton
Patri Friedman asks in the comments for info on the desirability of New Zealand for libertarian expatting; C.L asks about the cost of living. I’ll see what I can do on both fronts, beneath the fold.... MORE

Kiwiana

Cross-country Comparisons
Eric Crampton
I'm quite happy to fill in for Bryan while he's holidaying in California. I finished up at GMU about three years ago before taking a job at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Bryan's given me a bit... MORE

Economic Dynamism

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Edmund Phelps writes, An informal cross-country analysis of those economies that I have conducted with Gylfi Zoega examined three measures of economic performance: the employment rate (relative to the working-age population), the unemployment rate (relative to labor force), and labor... MORE

The European Model

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Fareed Zakaria writes, Talk to top-level scientists and educators about the future of scientific research, and they will rarely even mention Europe. There are areas in which it is world-class, but they are fewer than they once were. In the... MORE

Work Hours and Comparative Advantage

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Tim Worstall reports on research that explains the differences between hours worked in the U.S. and Europe. the fact that many German women stay at home to make sauerkraut, while more American women go outside the home to do something... MORE

The Upside of Asia

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Alex Tabarrok has a pair of neat posts on India and China. The first points to a vast expansion of private schooling in India, and makes the plausible argument that growth is causing education rather than the other way around.... MORE

How Bad is Life in North Korea?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
When a country forbids foreigners to freely wander around and talk to people, smart money says that something monstrous is going on. North Korea is probably now the world's clearest example. It's hard to confirm that the alleged horrors are... MORE

Intangible Wealth and Institutional Economics

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
In a new book, a team of World Bank economists writes, most of a country's wealth is captured by what we term intangible capital...Intangible assets include the skills and know-how embodied in the labor force. The category also includes social... MORE

The Language Barrier

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Sucheta Dalal writes about India: Salary differences between equally qualified (non-professional/technical) candidates can be as high as 400 to 500 per cent. In fact, the more fancied jobs in airlines, hotels, media, banks and financial services only to those who... MORE

France, UK productivity puzzle

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Theodore Dalrymple writes, A French employee works 30% fewer hours than a British worker, and a much smaller percentage of the French population than the British works at all, yet total French output is very nearly equal in value to... MORE

Who Hates Muslims the Most?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Another interesting result from Pew's "Islamic Extremism" survey: Americans are, compared to other Western countries, pro-Muslim! Only 22% of Americans surveyed admit to unfavorable views of Muslims. I suspect that many people who hate Muslims won't admit it, but the... MORE

Who Wants to Privatize Lenin?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Who is most open to privatizing Lenin's mummy? You might think that it would be people to suffered under Communism, and want to turn their backs on anything tainted by it. But "Goodbye Lenin (or not?)" a fascinating paper by... MORE

Personality and Politics: New Evidence from Germany

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I'm convinced that economists have a lot to learn from personality psychology. For example, personality is a great predictor of occupational choice. Librarians are highly introverted, and salesmen are highly extraverted, just as you'd expect. Preferences matter, Becker and Stigler... MORE

A Metric for Growth Speeds

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Mahalanobis quotes Peter C.B. Phillips and Donggyu Sul, the fastest learning countries are China, India and the East Asian group. Remarkably, China has experienced over four centuries of base trajectory OECD growth in the last 52 years taking it to... MORE

Building a Better Llama

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Alex Tabarrok's llama statue reminds me of an argument by Jared Diamond that no longer convinces me. In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Diamond forcefully argues that an important reason Eurasia was more economically successful than the rest of the world... MORE

A Little Hope for Hong Kong

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Dan Klein has alerted me to the presence of two free-market organizations in Hong Kong, the Lion Rock Institute and The Hong Kong Centre for Economic Research. It's a start. Klein also pointed me to a nice lecture on what... MORE

Hong Kong: Statist at Heart?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Hong Kong has had the freest economy in the world since 1970, the earliest year covered by the Economic Freedom of the World data set. Indeed, it's higher now under the Communists than it was in 80's! And it's hard... MORE

Anti-Foreign Bias Strikes Again

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
The Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science blog features an interesting graph comparing the actual and perceived percentange of foreign-born residents in 20 European countries. Consistent with my research on anti-foreign bias, people overestimate the percentage of foreigners in... MORE

So Crowded No One Will Go?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
This Friday, June 17, the Mercatus Center will be hosting French libertarian sensation Sabine Herold. The time: 12:00. The place: Mercatus Board Room, 4th Floor. Sabine's the talk of D.C., so my guess is that this will be a rare... MORE

Hours Worked in Europe vs. the U.S.

Labor Market
Arnold Kling
Alberto Alesina, Edward Glaeser, and Bruce Sacerdote write, we show, in an accounting sense, that legally mandated holidays can explain 80 percent of the difference in weeks worked between the U.S. and Europe and 30 percent of the difference in... MORE

A Chat With Falun Gong

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday I had an interesting chat with an earnest young man who belongs to the Falun Gong movement. As best as I can tell, Falun Gong is the most serious of the opponents of Communist rule in China. Whenever I... MORE

Nobel Laureates speak

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
The Wall Street Journal asks a series of questions to a number of Nobel Laureates in economics. On one question, whether the global income distribution will be more equal 50 years from now, several of them say "yes," because they... MORE

Evaluating Health Care Systems

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
How can you tell whether one country's health care system works better than another? In this essay (read the whole thing), I talk about how not to make the comparison. Overall, I think that it is a mistake to define... MORE

Data Request: Health Care Spending

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Gerard F. Anderson, Uwe E. Reinhardt, Peter S. Hussey, and Varduhi Petrosyan write, the United States spends more on health care than any of the other OECD countries spend, without providing more services than the other countries do. This... MORE

European Productivity

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
The Economic Policy Institute, a left-wing think tank (well, the newspapers always refer to Cato and Heritage as right-wing think tanks, don't they?), writes, seven OECD countries have passed the U.S. in productivity: Norway, with 131 percent of U.S. productivity... MORE

Russia’s Hope

Cross-country Comparisons
Michael Munger
by Michael Munger Guest Blogger Things seem to be picking up for Russia, heart of the former Soviet Union and the world’s only third-world superpower. This year, using a purchasing power parity basis, Russian GDP stands at $1.287 trillion, or... MORE

Cuba's Economy

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Michael Munger, who will be guest-blogging here next week, has recently visited Cuba. Our hosts were professors and were also well paid, earning in some cases more than $20 per month. The idea that someone would pay nearly $30 to... MORE

Hours Worked In the U.S. vs. Europe

Labor Market
Arnold Kling
The OECD looks at total hours worked in its member countries. The performance of US labour markets also looks quite strong when assessed in terms of hours worked per capita, a more comprehensive measure of “labour utilisation” than the employment... MORE

U.S. vs. Europe

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Steve Antler points to a study by Fredrik Bergström & Robert Gidehag of various indicators of prosperity in the U.S. relative to countries of the European Union. Most Americans have a standard of living which the majority of Europeans will... MORE

Welfare State Free Lunch?

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
In his New York Times column last week, Jeffrey Madrick referred to the work of Peter Lindert on the ability of countries to grow in spite of welfare state distortions. Lindert's argument can be found in Why the Welfare State... MORE

Cost-of-Living Arbitrage

International Trade
Arnold Kling
An engineer from India emails me, The purchasing power parity in India is 5 compared to USA - a 20000 $ programmer in India is actually making 100,000 $ in terms of his spending power. ...an average programmer in India... MORE

China, India and Deflation

International Macroeconomics: Exchange Rates, International Debt, etc.
Arnold Kling
Prashant Kothari forwarded an email from one of his readers that said, I think global deflation is [in] the cards as long as we have free trade in goods and services. China is rapidly becoming a sophisticated manufacturer and there... MORE

Liquidity Trap or Statism Trap?

Supply-side Economics
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I take issue with Paul Krugman's claim that the liquidity trap is relevant to Japan and the United States. Krugman has learned the wrong lessons. He thinks that the bank bailouts are a good thing, that Japan's... MORE

U.S. Best--or Worst?

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
In the Atlantic Monthly's "State of the Union" issue, Ted Halstead says that for the American economy it is the best of times and the worst of times. We boast more patent applications than the entire European Union; almost three... MORE

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