Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Growth: Consequences

A Category Archive (256 entries)

Diseases of Poverty: Neglecting the Obvious

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Before blogging Ebola, I've been reading up on the broader category of "diseases of poverty."  The low-point of the Wikipedia entry:There are a number of proposals for reducing the diseases of poverty and eliminating health disparities within and between countries.... MORE

Henderson on Piketty, Part 1

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
David Henderson
My long review of Thomas Piketty's Capital in Twenty-First Century is finally out. It is titled "An Unintended Case for More Capitalism." Over the next few days, I'll be highlighting various parts of my review. Here's the first highlight: Unlike... MORE

Last week, I asked which essential skills will someday be obsolete. From the comments, it looks like there's a clear consensus on cooking. I expect my kids' generation will cook the way my generation sews: as a hobby. I wouldn't... MORE

Don Boudreaux on the Hockey Stick of Human Prosperity

Growth: Causal Factors
Art Carden
Don Boudreaux of George Mason University and Cafe Hayek offers a short discussion of the explosion in standards of living over the last few centuries, courtesy of Marginal Revolution University:... MORE

On Monday, we celebrated our daughter's fourth birthday. Today, we celebrate our younger son's second birthday. On Saturday, we will celebrate my wife's and my eleventh anniversary. When we found out we were expecting our third a few years ago,... MORE

Reply to Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga

Growth: Causal Factors
David Henderson
At a conference titled "Erroneous Autonomy: The Catholic Case Against Libertarianism," Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga attacked the free market, calling it "a new idol." This is my response. I understand that in writing it, I am assuming that in each... MORE

Friday Night Video: Henderson on RT

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
Last week I recorded an interview with Erin Ade of RTTV's "Boom and Bust." She put me through the paces, and showed that she had obviously read, or at least scanned, some of my writing, which is better than some... MORE

The Great Grandson Also Rises

Growth: Causal Factors
David Henderson
Our former co-blogger, Arnold Kling, has an excellent review on Econlib of Gregory Clark's latest book, The Son Also Rises. The review is titled "The Heritability of Social Status." You may have noticed that Clark, an economist historian at UC... MORE

Acemoglu and Robinson on Mobutu

Growth: Causal Factors
David Henderson
I'm at a conference in San Diego in which the participants are discussing various articles and book chapters on the causes of economic growth. A number of chapters are from Daren Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, Why Nations Fail, which... MORE

Simon Kuznets: An Appreciation

Macroeconomics
David Henderson
I second co-blogger Bryan Caplan's appreciation of the late Simon Kuznets. One of my pleasures in writing the many bios of famous economists for The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics was researching and writing his bio. Some excerpts from the Encyclopedia... MORE

Answering Arnold's Challenge

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
Tyler publicizes a challenge from founding EconLog blogger Arnold Kling:I still want to see an economist reconcile a belief in secular stagnation with a belief in Piketty's claim that the return on capital is going to exceed the growth rate... 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

Climate Stabilizers: How Do People Adjust?

Growth: Consequences
Art Carden
I just read Ronald Bailey's article "Ugly Climate Models" to which co-blogger David Henderson linked below. From what I can gather, it looks like it's clear that the world is getting hotter and that human activity is contributing to it.... MORE

Happy Thanksgiving! For What are You Thankful?

Growth: Consequences
Art Carden
We're t-minus 90 minutes from driving to my grandmother-in-law's house on the other side of Birmingham for our first Thanksgiving celebration of the day. For what are you thankful? Here are two things on my "Thankful" list: 1. Hot Showers.... MORE

Of Fossil Fuels, Forests, and the Future of Prosperity

Energy, Environment, Resources
Art Carden
We live on a heavily-wooded suburban lot in Hoover, Alabama, just outside of Birmingham, surrounded by neighbors and a very short drive from Samford. Periodically, we'll roast hot dogs over sticks and branches we find in the yard (see "heavily-wooded")... MORE

The Decline of Creative Destruction

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Though I've been a harsh critic of Tyler's Great Stagnation thesis, I was struck by the following figure in Edmund Phelps' Mass Flourishing:At first glance, this confirms a quarter-century of steadily declining creative destruction - falling job creation and job... MORE

Here's a sad mistake I encounter all too often: people think economic growth and technological progress are substitutes for rather than inputs into enjoyment and appreciation of finer things like the arts or deeper things like the sacred. I offer... MORE

Today Tyler chides anti-stagnationists who point to falling household size: Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Persons per family household: 1990: 3.22 2000: 3.24 2010: 3.24 Not so much change, and if you look you will see there is also not so much... 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

My Superintelligence Skepticism

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson and Eliezer Yudkowsky's debate on the future of superintelligence is now a free e-book. Cool cover:The transcript of their in-person debate starts on p.431.  I conditionally agree with Robin: If a superintelligence came along, it would do so... MORE

In researching a piece I'm writing, I came across an excellent article by Paul Krugman, written in 1996, at the height of his "explain economics to non-economists" era. It's titled "The CPI and the Rat Race." He starts by pointing... MORE

In my profession as an economics professor and through churches I have attended, I've been around a lot of people who want to "make a difference." They almost inevitably equate "making a difference" with "working for a government or a... MORE

Here are highlights from the UEFA Champions League match between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund from a few days ago. There is no Great Stagnation.... MORE

My take on Reinhart and Rogoff

Growth: Causal Factors
David Henderson
UPDATE BELOW Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers write: In the end, all the corrections advocated by the critics shift the average GDP growth for very-high-debt nations to 2.2 percent, from a negative 0.1 percent in Reinhart and Rogoff's original work.... 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

AI and GE

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
My favorite question from this year's Ph.D. Micro midterm: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 effects on human welfare before AND after... MORE

Winship's Numerate Insight on Growth

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
Brookings Institution economist Scott Winship makes a simple arithmetic point that is a powerful economic one: a lower growth rate starting from a high level can give us higher absolute growth than a higher growth rate starting from a low... MORE

The Thriving Middle Class

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
Don Boudreaux and Mark Perry have an excellent piece in the Wall Street Journal today, "The Myth of the Stagnant Middle Class." They cover a lot of interesting ground on how standards of living are rising even in the last... MORE

How to Trust Government Data (or not)

Growth: Consequences
Garett Jones
I recommend Russ's recent EconTalk with Morten Jerven.  Jerven's forthcoming book, Poor Numbers, shows that GDP estimates in sub-Saharan Africa are fraught with error. Jerven, who visited many statistics offices in the region firsthand, concludes that poorly staffed offices and... MORE

The Joy of Microwaves

Cost-benefit Analysis
David Henderson
When our microwave oven broke down a few weeks ago after almost 15 years of faithful service, it got me thinking about how valuable microwaves are to my family, which led to thinking about the consumer surplus we get from... MORE

Postrel on Progress

Growth: Causal Factors
David Henderson
I wish I had been aware of Virginia Postrel's excellent piece on technological progress when I wrote my post yesterday on electricity. In it, she takes on the views of Jason Pontin, my former editor at the Red Herring, and... MORE

ELECTRICITY!

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
In Praise of Modern Technology Early Saturday afternoon, the electric power at our home in Pacific Grove went out. We were out at lunch when it happened and when I came home, I thought it was a neighborhood-wide thing, something... MORE

Open Borders and Global IQ Bleg

IQ in Economics
Bryan Caplan
Another bleg from the tireless Vipul Naik of Open Borders.  Vipul's words:What impact would open borders have on global IQ within a generation or two? Even hardcore IQ hereditarians concede some sort of Flynn effect and the role of malnutrition... MORE

CPI Bias and Experiment Bias

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
As Bryan admits, his experiment to figure out whether the economy is stagnating suffered from a small-sample problem. Various commenters when Bryan first asked for volunteers pointed out that there was huge selection bias. The people who are even aware... MORE

How Stagnant Are We? The Results

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
Remember my Time Diary Self-Experiment?  Only 41 people responded, so I take the feedback with a grain of salt.  Still, both of my predictions were correct.  To refresh your memory, I asked respondents to repeatedly ask themselves:1. Was my experience... MORE

How Stagnant Are We? A Time Diary Self-Experiment

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
An argument I've repeatedly had with Tyler Cowen:Tyler: We're stagnating!Bryan: No we're not.  You're ignoring massive CPI bias.  We live in an age of consumption-biased technological change.  Official numbers don't adequately adjust for quality improvements, and utterly ignore the mountains... MORE

Two More Hanson Posts

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
1. Hanson replies to my claims about his Tautological Fallacy.2. The top two results for the Name Robin's Creatures survey are Sentients and Intelligent Agents.  Background: Robin initially did a small Facebook survey.  The top two choices were Agents and... MORE

The Tautological Fallacy

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Robin offers the best possible response to my claim that he commits the Metaphorical Fallacy: I'm saying that your mind is literally a signal processing system. Not just metaphorically; literally. That is, while minds have a great many features, a... MORE

Name Robin's Creatures

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
To help write his book in progress, Robin Hanson is looking for a word to describe the set of things that are EITHER (a) biological humans OR (b) artificial intelligences.  At my urging, he's set up a survey on QuickSurveys... MORE

Gordon on Growth: Parting Thoughts

Growth: Causal Factors
David Henderson
I've laid out Robert Gordon's pessimistic thoughts on U.S. growth here and some of my criticisms here. These are my parting thoughts. Some of them are similar to what some of the commenters have said. First, I'll emphasize the big-picture... MORE

Robert J. Gordon on Growth

Growth: Causal Factors
David Henderson
I'm a big fan of much of the work of Northwestern University economist Robert J. Gordon. His latest piece, "Is U.S. Economic Growth Over? Faltering Innovation Confronts the Six Headwinds," is no exception. I have some criticisms. Indeed, my main... MORE

Hans Rosling and the Washing Machine

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
Here's a fantastic 9-minute video by Hans Rosling on how the washing machine revolutionized living standards. A personal note: I returned on Saturday from my cottage in Minaki, Canada. My grandfather built it in 1922 when he was 67 years... MORE

The Great Factor Substitution

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
The New York Times reports, Even as Foxconn, Apple's iPhone manufacturer, continues to build new plants and hire thousands of additional workers to make smartphones, it plans to install more than a million robots within a few years to supplement... MORE

China's Economic Growth

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
David Henderson
The spontaneous reforms in agriculture meant that new supplies of food products needed markets and that markets needed infrastructure. Rural dwellers created a private trade network, and, within one year, most state food stores were out of business. Rural entrepreneurs... MORE

The Rip Van Winkle Effect

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
I have been working on some educational software--nothing revolutionary,, and nothing ready to show just yet. It is interesting to see how different the software world is from when I left it in 1999. I'll put the rest of this... MORE

Landsburg on Median Income

Income Distribution
David Henderson
Steve Landsburg has an excellent post today showing that to know what has happened to incomes of various groups, you have to look behind the median. Of course, anyone who has used statistics carefully knows this, but it's amazing how... MORE

Brink Lindsey's New eBook

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
It is called Human Capitalism. It might be called The Age of Abundance* (*for some people). Brink is trying to thread the needle between those who view the poor as victims and those who apparently don't. (Bryan read an earlier... MORE

In January 1997, Red Herring magazine, now defunct, published a debate between Paul Krugman and me. It was titled "Does Technology Create Jobs?" Here's one of his key paragraphs: It's also true that higher profits generated by the new technology... MORE

Schooling, Income, and Reverse Causation

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Economists normally measure the private return to education by estimating a "Micro-Mincer" regression: (1) log(personal income in $s)= a + b1*(individual education in years) Given crucial assumptions, b1 is the private return to education.  I've discussed some of these crucial... MORE

Off Topic, But

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Last time I did any computer programming, it was using a text editor. So I was really blown away by App Inventor for Android, which is a visual programming environment. Is that pretty standard now? Is there something similar for... MORE

Tyler Cowen on America's Future

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
He writes, the static sector consists of the protected services (a big chunk of health care, education and government jobs), and the dynamic sector is heavily represented in U.S. exports, often consisting of goods and services rooted in tech, connected... MORE

Podcasts

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
These are from recent video conferences. Alex Tabarrok (just Alex and me) on policies to encourage innovation; and David Weinberger on how the Internet is affecting our views of knowledge (with Nick Schulz and me; unfortunately, the sound quality on... MORE

De-Materialization

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
From Diamandis and Kotler's Abundance: Twenty years ago, most well-off US citizens owned a camera, a video camera, a CD player, a stereo, a video game console, a cell phone, a watch, an alarm clock, a set of encyclopedias, a... MORE

Diamandis and Kotler

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
The book is Abundance: The Future is Better than You Think. I think it is a must-read. 1. I am skeptical of Peter Thiel's view that regulation is holding back progress. I recall Ray Kurzweil's remark that regulations are like... MORE

Life Among the Thetes

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Matt Yglesias writes, stagnating real working-class wages are calculated by using a meaningless overall average rate of price inflation. Some things--college tuition, apartments in Manhattan, health care--have gotten more expensive much faster than average. This means that people who buy... MORE

The Great Transformation

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Larry Summers writes, The nature of the transformation is highlighted by the 50 fold change in the relative price of a television set of a constant quality and a day in a hospital over the last generation. While it is... MORE

"Economic growth seems like an extremely good thing.  But growth could have undesirable side effects so severe that growth is actually bad."  This position is totally reasonable - and totally uninteresting.  Could?  Could?!  If something seems extremely good, you need... MORE

Trends to Watch, Updated

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Following up on last year's post on long-term trends (which in turn followed up on a post from 2005: 1. Productivity growth has tailed off in recent quarters. It varies so much on a year-to-year basis that it takes quite... MORE

TGS and RATM

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
That is, "The Great Stagnation" and "Race Against the Machine." Tyler Cowen writes, I understand how the TGS argument fits into the cyclical story of 2007-2011 (excess confidence and overextension, Minsky moment, AD contraction, AS problems slow down the recovery),... MORE

Video of the Year

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
In my opinion, it is this debate between Tyler Cowen and Erik Brynjolffson. The speakers, the moderator, and the audience questions were all top form. Remind me never to get into a live debate with Tyler. I thought he was... MORE

My Version of Race Against the Machine

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
I wrote mine first, but it came out today (and at the last minute I inserted a reference to the Brynjofsson-McAfee e-book). Anyway, I write, In a hyper-Schumpeterian economy, the main work consists of destroying someone else's job. Garett Jones... MORE

Politically Correct Employment

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Kenneth Anderson writes, Even more frightening is the young woman who graduated from UC Berkeley, wanting to work in "sustainable conservation." She is now raising chickens at home, dying wool and knitting knick-knacks to sell at craft fairs. Her husband... MORE

Footnote of the Day

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Is at the end of this paragraph, from Eric Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee (BM), Race Against the Machine: When SBTC [skill-biased technological change] increases the incomes of high-skill workers and decreases incomes and employment for low-skill workers, the net effect... MORE

Race Against the Machine Watch

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Robin Hanson says, We've seen many, many decades of steady progress in automation. We've seen what the rate looks like. We've seen that it's slow, methodical; it takes time to slowly chip away at the kinds of jobs humans do... MORE

My Optimisms and Pessimisms

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
Some of the comments on Bryan's post about what he is optimistic or pessimistic about motivated me to give a much shorter list. I've always thought I was an optimistic person. Then I met Bryan. Still I have a few... MORE

The Great Okun's Law Violation

Labor Market
Arnold Kling
Steve Lohr writes, During the last recession, the authors write, one in 12 people in sales lost their jobs, for example. And the downturn prompted many businesses to look harder at substituting technology for people, if possible. Since the end... MORE

For the Myth of the Macroeconomy File

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
1. I found an ungated version of the John Haltiwanger paper first spotted by Mark Thoma and then praised by Tyler Cowen. Some excerpts and my comments are below the fold. 2. Brian Arthur has a piece on the digital... MORE

The Top 1 Percent Includes You

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
But if you take a wider and longer view, you reach a striking conclusion: virtually every American who has heard John Kerry or Al Gore speeches is in the top one percent. This includes the middle-class family from Indiana, the... MORE

As the World Ages

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Phillip Longman writes, Because of the phenomenon of hyper-aging in the developing world, another great variable is already changing as well: migration. In Mexico, for example, the population of children age 4 and under was 434,000 less in 2010 than... 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

The Irony of the Irony of The Onion

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday's Onion reads:In a moving and beautiful ceremony held atop Lower Manhattan's gleaming, 120-story-tall Freedom Tower, the nation commemorated the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by raising a glass to the stable democracy of Afghanistan and to a decade... MORE

The Great AI Shift?

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Jaron Lanier says, If you had talked to anyone involved in it twenty years ago, everyone would have said that the ability for people to inexpensively have access to a tremendous global computation and networking facility ought to create wealth.... MORE

Steve Horwitz on Cost of Living

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
LearnLiberty has an excellent short video featuring St. Lawrence University economics professor taking on the myth that the cost of living has risen over the years. He does it in two ways: 1. First, he looks at the prices of... MORE

NCH Podcast

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Paul Howard and I discuss the New Commanding Heights. That is, education and health care are taking over a larger share of the economy, and this is an important phenomenon for political economy.... MORE

Gender and the New Commanding Heights

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Don Peck writes, As recently as 2001, U.S. manufacturing still employed about as many people as did health and educational services combined (roughly 16 million). But since then, those latter, female-dominated sectors have added about 4 million jobs, while manufacturing... MORE

Nomadism

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Venkat Rao writes Movement is not expensive if the environment is set up to support it. I am not an extremist or minimalist. I don't want to be living off a few packs on a bicycle for the rest of... MORE

Manufacturing and Reality

Labor Market
Arnold Kling
Stephen J. Rose gets it right. The "problem" with manufacturing is mainly productivity growth that permits fewer workers to produce more goods. As workers are freed from having to produce common goods and services, total output expands greatly. For example,... MORE

The Great Factor-Price Equalization, Again

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Dani Rodrik and Timothy Taylor both have posts, including charts, comparing growth in emerging economies with growth in developed economies. Rodrik (pointer from Mark Thoma) is writing about the past twenty years. For the first time ever, developing countries as... MORE

Larry Summers on the New Commanding Heights

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
He says, Look, the most rapidly growing sector of jobs over the last decade, and in the forecasts for the next decade, is health care, and education is in the top five. So we need to embrace that. We need... MORE

The Wisdom of Steve Miller

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
Pete Boettke on Cowen's The Great Stagnation:The Great Stagnation is a condemnation of government growth over the 20th century.  It was made possible only by the amazing technological progress of the late 19th and early 20th century.  But as the... MORE

Consumer Surplus from the Internet

Business Economics
David Henderson
Would you give up the Internet for One Million Dollars? That's the title of a 5-minute YouTube video produced by the Fund for American Studies. There's a lot of good stuff packed into this video plus some apparently contradictory stuff.... MORE

David Henderson's Persuasive Case

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
In his book review, Henderson writes, whatever explanation Cowen comes up with for the slower growth of median family income since 1973 should be one that is consistent with the relatively healthy growth of per capita GDP since 1973. Do... MORE

PSST and Long-term Unemployment, 2

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Richard Florida weighs in. The returns to analytical skill rise consistently across the skill distribution; moving from the 25th to the 75th percentile increases earnings by more than $25,000. The same basic pattern holds for social intelligence skills, like teamwork,... MORE

Kindred Spirit

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Kindred Winecoff writes, I do not see a world economy that has stagnated overall. I don't even see a US economy (pre-2008) that has stagnated. I see a redistribution from a certain class of American workers to workers with similar... MORE

Population and Chess

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
Population doesn't just predict Olympic gold medals and movie production; it also predicts the average ranking of countries' top-ten chess players.  In a multiple regression, population and per-capita GDP both matter, just like Julian Simon and New Growth Theory tell... MORE

Robots of the Future: A Poor Argument for Socialism

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
For Matt Yglesias, my vision of the future - "Simon for people, Malthus for robots" - is a powerful argument for socialism:Another way of putting it would be Simon (i.e., plenty) for capital and Malthus (i.e., subsistence) for labor. That,... MORE

Innovations and Resistance

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Matt Rognlie writes, an Apple or Google could come along and bargain with several national newspapers to assemble a cheap bundle of online subscriptions. Since the bundler would have a very strong incentive to provide a reasonable price for customers,... MORE

Consumption-Biased Technological Change

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
On last night's PBS, Paul Solman interviewed Tyler about The Great Stagnation in Tyler's antiquated kitchen.  MIT's Erik Brynjolfsson provided counterpoint.  Highlight: Solman versus Brynjolfsson: Solman:Sure, high-tech gadgetry abounds, says Cowen, but it hasn't transformed our economy and created new... MORE

What the Future Holds: A Hanson-English Translation

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
I had an enlightening conversation with Robin Hanson today where we came to near-complete agreement.  Unfortunately, he decided to summarize our shared conclusion in his own idiocyncratic language:The tiny fraction of future humans who are not robots might well manage... MORE

Trade, Mechanization, and Displacement

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
James C. Cooper writes, Between 1999 and 2009, these large global corporations pared 2.9 million workers from their U.S. payrolls while adding 2.4 million jobs at their foreign affiliates. That's a reversal from the previous decade, when they boosted payrolls... MORE

How Will I Rejoin the Developed World?

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
MIT Technology Review reports, In 2010 consumers bought more than 300 million smart phones--devices that include complete operating systems, and for which advanced software can be written--plus nearly 18 million tablet computers. (Meanwhile, more than 1.1 billion simpler phone handsets... MORE

TANSTAAFL vs. Futurism

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
While writing my target essay for May's Cato Unbound, I decided I ought to take another look at Edwin Dolan's TANSTAAFL: The Economic Strategy for Environmental Crisis.*  First published in 1971, it is one of the earliest works of free-market... MORE

Great Out the Gate?

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
At the Kauffman Foundation econ bloggers' conference, Tyler Cowen repeated his novel argument about CPI bias.  As he puts it in The Great Stagnation:In fact, income measures are most likely to understate growth during times when a lot of new... MORE

The KC Bloggers' Forum

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
The videos are here. When you follow the link, you can watch Tyler and/or scroll down to choose other speakers. In terms of recommendations for videos to watch, I thought that Bryan and Megan gave the must-see presentations. Tyler's presentation... MORE

The Economy in Transition

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Michael Spence and Sandile Hlatshwayo write, For the tradable sector as a whole, value added per job rose substantially, an increase of 44 percent from 1990 to 2008, far above the increase of 21 percent in the economy as a... MORE

Some Data to Ponder

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Michael Mandel writes, We can see that public/quasi-public employment rose steadily over the past ten years, and is now up 16%. By comparison, the rest of the private sector is down 8% in jobs over the past 10 years. He... MORE

The Great Substitution

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Naturally, Tyler Cowen recommends David Leonhardt's post, which in turn highlights Michael Greenstone and Adam Loney on the dismal trends in median male earnings. I think that broad aggregates of wages and productivity may not be the most informative way... MORE

The Hobgoblin of Simple Minds

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen notes the apparent inconsistency between supporting both labor unions and aggregate demand expansion during a recession. The one seeks to raise real wages and the other seeks to lower them. I think it is hard to maintain a... MORE

You Call this Stagnation?

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, The deeper point is that the revenue growth/utility growth gradient has fundamentally changed, due to the "real shock" (as they call it) of the internet. Facebook is fun but it doesn't produce a proportional amount of revenue,... MORE

The Expert-Hubris Industries

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Steven Randy Waldman elaborates on some ideas that I set out in response to his initial post. service providers in these industries are themselves uncertain of the value they are able to provide. Yet providers work hard to hide and... MORE

My Othello Career

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Mostly off topic, but Tyler Cowen sent me a cryptic email asking about it. I can refer him to this essay.from 1998. With apologies to Robert Fulgum, everything I ever learned about competition I learned by playing Othello(tm owned by... 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

David Brooks, Tyler Cowen, and PSST

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
David Brooks writes, In other words, as Cowen makes clear, many of this era's technological breakthroughs produce enormous happiness gains, but surprisingly little additional economic activity. This is Tyler Cowen's Internet story. Lots of value, but not much economic activity.... 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

Now versus 1973

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
There's been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere lately about whether we're better off--and if so, by how much--than our counterparts in 1973. Scott Sumner has added his thoughts. Here are my further thoughts--prompted by Scott and by some... 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

Tyler Cowen Versus My Co-Bloggers

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
Yesterday, my co-bloggers, Arnold Kling and Bryan Caplan posted critical comments on Tyler Cowen's "Great Stagnation" thesis. Tyler replied as a commenter to both. Tyler insisted to Arnold that he is being misunderstood. The growth in economic well-being for the... 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

Creative Destruction: Sumner Edition

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
In mid-2009, I asked, "Creative destruction: what's next?":Everywhere I look, firms are going out of business...What's going to happen now?  Most people probably accept the economically illiterate view that the empty store fronts will stay empty forever.  They don't understand... MORE

The Great Reconfiguration, Again

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Jim Tankersley writes, The Great Recession wiped out what amounts to every U.S. job created in the 21st century. But even if the recession had never happened, if the economy had simply treaded water, the United States would have entered... MORE

Poorer than we thought?

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Evidently Tyler Cowen will offer that message in an "e-book single." From the description: In a figurative sense, the American economy has enjoyed lots of low-hanging fruit since at least the seventeenth century: free land; immigrant labor; and powerful new... MORE

Reconfigurations

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Consider the following hypotheses. 1. The Great Depression and World War II ended the last vestiges of the Jeffersonian agricultural economy in America. The yeoman farmer disappears. 2. The current recession is accelerating a transition away from the industrial era... MORE

Robin Hanson on the Singularity

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Self-recommending, until I get the 90 minutes to listen. I have heard Robin talk on this subject, and he is fascinating.... MORE

The Dispersion of Knowledge: A Data Point

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has updated its job classification system. Theresa Cosca and Alissa Emmel report, Compared with the 2000 SOC system, the 2010 SOC system realized a net gain of 19 detailed occupations, 12 broad occupations, and 1... MORE

Trends to Watch, Updated After Five Years

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Five years ago, I wrote As an end-of-year type post, here is a list of economic stories that I think will be worth following next year. Note that all of them are long-term stories, which won't be resolved in 2006... MORE

What You Have That George Vanderbilt Didn't

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
I just returned from the Biltmore, America's largest home.  Built by George Vanderbilt between 1889 and 1895, the Biltmore is a symbol of how good the rich had it during the Gilded Age.  I'm sure that most of the other... MORE

Body Scans and WikiLeaks

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes on Wikileaks. He links to Ross Douthat, who writes, WikiLeaks is at best a temporary victory for transparency, and it's likely to spur the further insulation of the permanent state from scrutiny, accountability or even self-knowledge. I... MORE

Full Robin Hanson

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Maybe this isn't Robin Hanson's greatest hits, but it's a start. Listen when you have an hour and a half. I'll refund your money if you're not satisfied.... MORE

150 Years Ago

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
James M. McPherson writes, This pre-industrial world could not survive the transportation revolution, which made possible a division of labor and specialization of production for ever larger and more distant markets. The transportation revolution includes canals, steamboats, and railroads. It... MORE

Twenty-One Years Ago

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
Below is a random post.... MORE

The Attack on Civilization

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
Somewhere along the way, during the last 50 years, the critique of capitalism changed from condemning its failure to spread the wealth to condemning the very opposite. Suddenly the great sin of capitalism was that it was producing too much,... MORE

Highlights from The Rational Optimist

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
I finally got around to reading Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist.  Highlights:1. Ehrlich's errors were worse than I realized:In March of that year India issued a postage stamp celebrating the wheat revolution.  That was the very same year the environmentalist... MORE

Twenty-Somethings

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
From a long piece in the New York Times Magazine: How about expanding programs like City Year, in which 17- to 24-year-olds from diverse backgrounds spend a year mentoring inner-city children in exchange for a stipend, health insurance, child care,... MORE

I Lived to See the Future

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
In 1982, TSR released a science-fiction role-playing game called Star Frontiers.  The rules weren't great, but I loved the campaign world - so much that I recently started running a new game for my kids using the Star Frontiers universe... MORE

Smart Phones and Restaurants

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
One thing I haven't seen smart phones do yet: Figure out that you're in a restaurant, then let you order your meal straight from your phone without talking to a server.  To cut transactions costs further, your phone would tell... MORE

My Vacation Plans

International Trade
David Henderson
I'm going on vacation Thursday morning here. I'll be there until August 15. Sometime tomorrow and for a four-hour layover in Denver on Thursday, I'll pre-program some posts on things I've been thinking about. I'll also go on line from... MORE

Where is the Future?

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Bruce Charlton writes, A decade ago people all over the place were saying confidently that the economic effect of the internet would outstrip the effects seen by the invention of railways and telecommunications, and that new synergies from fast and... MORE

Visualize Growth

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
You know the bumper sticker I see a lot of in California? It says "Visualize World Peace." A takeoff is "Visualize Whirled Peas." Well, this one helps you visualize the growth of per capita income and of life expectancy. HT... MORE

Our Standard of Living

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
Radio Shack has put its catalogs for 1939 to 2005 on line. They're worth a gander. Choose any date earlier than 10 years ago and you get a feel for just how much our standard of living has increased. The... MORE

Arts, Sciences, and the Future

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
My colleague Robin Hanson has repeatedly told me that during the next million years, we'll discover all useful science/technology; there's only so much to know, and by then, we'll have it all figured out.  But would Robin see art the... MORE

Are Intellectuals Pessimistic?

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
I'm asking Bryan. "Pessimistic bias" is one of the four biases he finds among people who are ignorant of economics. He also claims that educated people are generally better than the less-educated on economic issues. But in an interview with... MORE

Good News on African Poverty

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
Here's what Columbia University economist Xavier Sala-i-Martin and Columbia graduate Maxim Pinkovskiy wrote: The conventional wisdom that Africa is not reducing poverty is wrong. Using the methodology of Pinkovskiy and Sala-i-Martin (2009), we estimate income distributions, poverty rates, and inequality... MORE

Tyler Cowen's Speech at APEE

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
I heard a very good speech by Tyler Cowen at the Association for Private Enterprise Education conference in Las Vegas today. It was titled "Why Is It Such a Deep and Long Recession?" In it, he not only explained what... MORE

Presentation in Las Vegas

Upcoming Events
David Henderson
Next Tuesday, April 13, I'll be making a presentation in Las Vegas at the annual meetings of the Association for Private Enterprise Education (APEE). My topic is "Is the Middle Class Disappearing?" Unusually for me, I actually have the final... MORE

Big Shakeouts

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Robert J. Gordon writes, by far the most rapid MFP growth in U. S. history occurred in 1928-50, a phenomenon that I have previously dubbed the "one big wave." MFP = multifactor productivity. Note that the Great Depression takes up... MORE

I Love Capitalism, Again

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
Driving home from skiing today--it was a gorgeous day in California, by the way--I saw a Bass Pro Shops in a city called Manteca. I had only seen it advertised on TV, but had never seen a real one. On... MORE

A Betting Arena

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Since Bryan is impressed with people who bet on their ideas, I thought I would remind folks about longbets, a site that encourages exactly that, focused on long-term predictions. For example, Kevin Kelly writes, The biggest driver of the shift... MORE

African Poverty Declines

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Xavier Sala-i-Martin and Maxim Pinkovskiy write, The poverty rate in 1970 was 0.398. That is, close to 40% of the entire population lived with less than one dollar a day in Africa in 1970. After a small decline during the... MORE

Insights on Krugman

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
The New Yorker carries a long puff piece on Paul Krugman that gives you some insight into the man and his work, especially his New York Times column. One thing I hadn't known was to what extent his wife ratchets... MORE

From Poverty to Prosperity Watch

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
click here for an illustration. Ten years ago, when I had maybe twenty readers, I wrote a similar essay. My guess is that this blog post alone will generate 100 times the number of readers for that essay than the... MORE

Jonah Goldberg on Haiti

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
He offers a diagnosis based on FP2P. It's true that Haiti has few natural resources, but neither do Japan or Switzerland. What those countries do have are what Kling and Schulz call valuable "intangible assets" -- the skills, rules, laws,... MORE

Pregnancy Substitutes and Economic Growth

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
In the U.S., the all-inclusive cost of a surrogate pregnancy (including the surrogate's fee, in vitro costs, medical expenses, brokers' fees, etc.) is $75,000+.  But you can save a bundle by going to India, the growing world capital of fertility... MORE

Another Masonomist Likes the Naughts

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes Putting aside the United States, which ranks third, the four most populous countries are China, India, Indonesia and Brazil, accounting for more than 40 percent of the world's people. And all four have made great strides. Indonesia... MORE

When Michael Barone inventoried the top scares of the decade, I kept thinking, "Is that all you've got?"  I'll grant that the Naughts were scarier than the Nineties; the 1991 collapse of the USSR was like waking up from a... MORE

Various Follow-ups

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
These relate to recent discussions on this blog. 1. Clifford Winston and Robert Crandall on market failure and government failure, from Forbes last October. 2. A review of an optimistic book by Gregg Easterbrook. Mark Perry ties this back to... MORE

Measured Productivity and Actual Productivity

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Is measured aggregate productivity accurate? Probably not, but I can think of important reasons that it would be understated as well as overstated. 1. For goods where there is a long history of measurement, productivity growth tends to be higher... MORE

The Power of Productivity

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Mark Perry writes, manufacturing employment in the United States fell below 12 million this year for the first time since 1946, and is now at the lowest level (11,648,000 manufacturing jobs in November) since March of 1941 According to the... MORE

Kling-Schulz on Intellectual Property

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
In From Poverty to Prosperity, we write, One broad alternative to restrictive patents and copyrights would be for a patronage model to support the development of new recipes...People with friends or family members afflicted with a particular ailment could form... MORE

Phelps on the Future of Capitalism

Austrian Economics
Arnold Kling
Nobel Laureate Edmund Phelps writes a long interesting article. Excerpts and my comments below the fold.... MORE

Manzi's Manifesto

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
James Manzi writes, The level of family disruption in America is enormous compared to almost every other country in the developed world. Of course, out-of-wedlock births are as common in many European countries as they are in the United States.... MORE

What's Really Wrong With Cryonics

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying."                                                          --Woody AllenOne of the most... MORE

The Great Depression as a Recalculation

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
In an interview, Bruce Greenwald says, Basically, in the Depression a huge sector of the economy that everyone had always regarded as central, died. And it dies for an almost virtuous reason. That sector of course is agriculture. Because productivity... MORE

What If India Had Been an Asian Tiger?

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
For decades after World War II, India was a Soviet-wannabe state.  While their ruling parties lacked the brutality to fully nationalize their economy, post-war India was an early version of "socialism with a human face."  Well, except for massive ethnic... MORE

Tyler Without Tyler

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Edge devotes its latest symposium to how humans will process information in the current era. Tyler Cowen's latest book speaks to that issue, but he is nowhere to be found on the symposium. Still, I believe that Nick Bilton does... MORE

The Singularity: What's in it for Me?

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen tries to answer. I'll add my comments.... MORE

From Poverty to Prosperity Watch

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen points to a fascinating paper that measures prosperity by looking at how much light shows up on a satellite image. It turns out that Nick Schulz was thinking along the same lines when he suggested that the cover... MORE

How I'd Sell Civilization to Cavemen

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
Geoffrey Miller's Spent begins with an imaginary dialog between a modern man (You), and a couple of cavemen (Gerard and Giselle).  You're trying to sell them on modern civilization, but you're thwarted at every turn.First, you fail to sell Gerard:Gerard:... MORE

New Commanding Heights Watch

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen says, An ever-larger share of our personal satisfaction will come from free or near-free sectors of the economy, as I explain in my new book "Create Your Own Economy". But those same sectors won't comprise such a large... MORE

Limits to Progress?

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
Without the progress of the 20th century, Milton Berle said, we'd all be watching television by candlelight. (Of course, postal delivery might be roughly the same.) This is from Todd G. Buchholz's article on economic growth in last Friday's Wall... MORE

The Present and the Future

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
Last night I saw Star Trek with Robin, Alex, and Garett.  The amazing thing to me was how unimpressive Earth looks hundreds of years in the future.  It looks like economic growth in the future has been well under 1%... MORE

Tyler Hits a Home Run

Growth: Causal Factors
David Henderson
This piece by Tyler Cowen is a beautiful combination of clarity and passion. I knew that Tyler is a very good writer: I had no idea that he is a great writer. This is great writing. One highlight: In this... MORE

Productivity Measured in Goods

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Mark Perry crunches some numbers. In 1950, it would have taken almost 8 months of full-time work at the average manufacturing wage to earn the $1,650 needed to purchase the 16 items above at the retail prices in 1950 (or... MORE

New Commanding Heights

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Michael Mandel breaks down the change in consumer spending over the past year. While other categories declined, spending on education, health care, and recreation increased. Nick Schulz (who pointed this out to me) and I call these areas "the new... MORE

The Wonder of Economic Freedom

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
I was reminded of this by Don Boudreaux's latest. In it, he cites a nice short piece by Robert Higgs and a great comedy riff by Louis C.K. Listening to the comedy sketch reminded me of what I wrote in... MORE

The Future

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Jeff Cornwall summarizes the panel on the outlook for the economy and entrepreneurs at the Kauffman Foundation forum this past weekend in Kansas City. In a later post, I will discuss the interesting ideas that were brought up at that... MORE

Techno-escapism

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
When the real world gets you down, it's always nice to read about technology and the future. So I recommend the latest world question center from John Brockman, et al. His question for this year is, "What will change everything?"... MORE

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Growth: Consequences
David Henderson
I have two main thoughts to share this day. The first is personal. I have so much to be thankful for. When I think about growing up on the cold prairies in Canada and going to our neighbors' house to... MORE

Imagining Alternative Futures

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen offers six, not mutually exclusive. For example, 4. Energy becomes very cheap, destruction is easy, deterrence is difficult, power decentralizes, and we retreat to medieval-style fortresses. In my view, the two most interesting variables in forecasting the future... MORE

The Last Quarter Century

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Brad DeLong writes, The true history of the U.S. since 1980, IMHO at least, is not Sean Wilentz's "Age of Reagan" but is instead composed of a half dozen or so deeper and broader tides, like: 1. The end of... MORE

My Most Absurd Belief

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
is that human nature has changed in the last few hundred years. If you could go back to 1708 and replace all of the babies at conception with babies conceived today, my prediction is that the alternative history from 1708... MORE

EW's "New Classics" of Entertainment Technology

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly (I'm as big a fan as Tyler Cowen and Seth Roberts) has a great story on the last 25 years' best 25 innovations in entertainment technology. You need to subscribe for the full story,... MORE

How Far Back Could You Go?

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Following up on an earlier post about hypothetical travel back in time, Tyler Cowen writes, I don't think 1700 would be so much easier for me than 1000. Even if I fell into London, patronage would be hard to come... MORE

Chess and the Flynn Effect

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
I'm not a chess geek - I prefer games where people laugh. But I suspect that my many chess geek friends will be interested in this paper that uses chess data to argue for the real-world importance of the Flynn... MORE

Robin Hanson Watch

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
The IEEE Spectrum symposium that I mentioned in the previous post includes Robin's thoughts on The Economics of the Singularity. in each economic era the question of whether growth speeds up or slows down depends on two competing factors. Deceleration... MORE

Ray Kurzweil Watch

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
John Tierney writes, Do you have trouble sticking to a diet? Have patience. Within 10 years, Dr. Kurzweil explained, there will be a drug that lets you eat whatever you want without gaining weight. At least once at a Milken... MORE

Robin Hanson to Technophiles: Get Real

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
I've often heard Robin Hanson called a "space cadet" or even a "replicant." So it's pretty dramatic to see him throw cold water on his fellow cadets:Sigh. The US government spends more on space research than on NIH and NSF... MORE

Meet Growthology

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
I like the first two weeks of Growthology, the new blog by Tim Kane and Bob Litan. Highlights from what is perhaps its best post so far:After 12 years, Peter Carlson is leaving his job as a journalist covering magazine... MORE

Podcasting is so 2005

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
What delicious irony that Steve Marglin tries to argue against modernity--saying that we need more community and less stuff--in an appearance on...YouTube. Will Wilkinson keeps sounding like he wants to put "community spirit" into the utility function, so that economists... MORE

The Bad Old Days of 1994

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
If you're a nerd over 30, you'll probably laugh at this. If you're a younger nerd, you had to be there. If you're not a nerd, why are you reading econ blogs on a beautiful Friday afternoon? HT: Don Boudreaux... MORE

Tyler Cowen's Daily Miracle

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
He writes, Any single year there has been inflation, from one year to the next. From 1900 to 2008 there has been radical *deflation*, for instance in the Sears catalog. You'd rather spend 10K in the modern catalog than in... MORE

Financial Crises and Real Growth

Macroeconomics
Arnold Kling
Alex Tabarrok writes, Forget the talk of recession. The world is about to enter a new era in which miracle drugs will conquer cancer and other killer diseases and technological and scientific advances will trigger unprecedented economic growth and global... MORE

Arnold's got a "non-pacifist syllogism" to counter my "pacifist syllogism". I think all of Arnold's premises are wrong or misleading. Point-by-point:Premise 1: There will always be individuals and groups whose comparative advantage is plunder and extortion. Call them pirates.For any... MORE

Growth Wisdom from Charles Kenny

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
First, on figuring out the causes of growth A linear framework rules out the possibility that the effect of a change in the variable of interest may differ according to the initial level of that variable and that the effect... MORE

Bioethics and Life Extension

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Aubrey de Grey writes, The practical fact is that, of the three categories of death enumerated at the beginning of this section (early, “bad” late and “good” late), society seems committed to delaying all three. The only issue is the... MORE

Julian Simon Moment of the Day

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
The 2007 Statistical Abstract of the United States lists death rates per 100,000 population. The 1951 Statistical Abstract of the United States lists death rates per 1000 population. When you look at the numbers, it's easy to see why. Back... MORE

The Demographic Transition

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
Bryan writes, The puzzle of declining family size in the face of rising wealth remains. Since I'm currently steeped in Gregory Clark, let me throw in my two cents. From Clark, we learn that in England: 1. Prior to the... MORE

Robert Fogel Interview

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
An excerpt: we did not get really good control over the techniques for purifying drinking water until about World War I, but we needed everything that was done up to that point to figure out how to do it. Then... MORE

War, Peace, and the Economic Gap

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
This essay by James McCormick is difficult to summarize. Here is a taste: To summarize my argument then, (1) our prosperity and peace is far ahead of most of the world and increasing, (2) we don’t appear to have enough... MORE

Globalization and Inequality

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Tim Worstall writes, The theory is the Stolper-Samuelson Theorem. Stripped to its essentials this says that we would expect the process of globalization to have the following effect: it will lower wages in the US and raise corporate profits (more... MORE

Optimistic Prognoses

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Edge has a whole bunch of them. Jonathan Haidt says, The Baby Boomers Will Soon Retire I am optimistic about the future of social science research because the influence of the baby boom generation on the culture and agenda of... MORE

Another Story to Watch

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Bill Gates writes, How soon will robots become part of our day-to-day lives? According to the International Federation of Robotics, about two million personal robots were in use around the world in 2004, and another seven million will be installed... MORE

Major Economic Stories, Updated

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
A year ago, I listed five stories to follow on a long-term basis. Now for an update.... MORE

A Middle-Class World

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
The above graph is lifted from a forthcoming book by Surjit S. Bhalla, called Second Among Equals: The Middle Class Kingdoms of India and China. It shows the share of the middle class in world population rising from 2... MORE

Tyler Cowen on Economic Turbulence

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
He writes, Economists Clair Brown, John Haltiwanger and Julia Lane...note [that] job turnover and firm disappearance have positive effects, in the aggregate...As workers lose jobs in one niche or sector, they gain in another, moving on to better jobs and... MORE

Pessimistic Bias: Economists Suffer Too

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
I've been carping on the public's pessimistic bias for quite a while. Now Robert Fogel persuasively argues that even economists suffer from it: At the close of World War II, there were wide-ranging debates about the future of economic developments.... MORE

Outstanding Lecture

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Hans Rosling is amazing. There are many lessons in this talk about how well-being around the world has changed over the past forty years. But what struck me was the quality of the presentation. My impression is that the number... MORE

Spotted in a Fairfax Parking Lot

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
A caricature of hypocrisy: Overweight, middle-aged man in a Che Guevara t-shirt, talking on a cell-phone in his illegally-parked BMW.... MORE

Growing into Freedom

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
Heard of the Magdalene Asylums? Long story short: They were quasi-prisons in Ireland for "wayward" girls and women, run by nuns. To sustain themselves economically, the inmates ran Magdalene Laundries. Check out the movie The Magdalene Sisters; and if you... MORE

Moral Consequences of Economic Growth

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
I have not read Benjamin Friedman's book, but Megan McArdle has. When earnings are growing, Friedman says, people are more tolerant of minorities, more welcoming to immigrants, more solicitous of their fellow citizens, more supportive of democratic institutions, and just... MORE

healthier humans

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Gina Kolata writes in the New York Times, The biggest surprise emerging from the new studies is that many chronic ailments like heart disease, lung disease and arthritis are occurring an average of 10 to 25 years later than they... MORE

Progress and Displacement

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Tim Worstall points to this interesting paper by BLS economists Ian D. Wyatt and Daniel E. Hecker. Teachers below the college level increased 1.4 times as a proportion of total employment between 1910 and 2000, from 1.6 percent to 3.8... MORE

Population, Aging, and the Savings Glut

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Nicholas Eberstadt writes, China’s national pension system as of 2025 promises today to be more or less the same system that has always provided for the country’s elderly and infirm: namely, the family unit. But herein lies a problem: The... MORE

Rogoff vs. Blinder

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Ken Rogoff writes, Globalization proceeded at a rapid pace through much of the last century, and at a particularly accelerated rate during its last two decades. Yet the vast body of evidence suggests that technological changes were a much bigger... MORE

Creative Destruction of the Telegram

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
My grandpa sent me a telegram to congratulate me on my college graduation. Even then, I thought it was weird. Thirteen years later, the market has finally pulled the plug on telegrams: Well, now nothing is worth a telegram. Western... MORE

Story of the Year

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
I have an essay on what I call the Most Important Economic Story of the Year. The average productivity growth rate in the last five years is the highest over the past half century. For Discussion. What do you think... MORE

Economic News for the New Year

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
As an end-of-year type post, here is a list of economic stories that I think will be worth following next year. Note that all of them are long-term stories, which won't be resolved in 2006 alone.... MORE

Robert Fogel Interview

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
An Excerpt: ultimately, what the government can pay [in future Social Security benefits] depends on how the economy performs. If we continue to grow as we have in the neighborhood of 2 percent per annum per capita over the past... MORE

Bryan is a Pessimist

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
He writes How about my house?! Is that going to be "obsolete" in 18 years? Even if housing prices go down a bit and my kids are extremely successful, my house will be worth years of their expected wages. Your... MORE

Why Inherited Wealth is Less Important

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Bryan asks, we're a lot less focused on inheritance than we used to be. Why would that be? The Kurzweilian answer is that rapid technological change has made inheritance--apart from "inherited" human capital--less valuable. Which would be more valuable to... MORE

Kurzweil and War

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
From my latest essay: Ray Kurzweil argues that the information component of goods and services is rising relative to the value of the physical resources employed in production. All of our products are becoming information-intensive. Computer software and pharmaceuticals are... MORE

Ray Kurzweil's economics

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
I discuss the economics of accelerating growth in my latest essay. If output per person in 2025 is more than 5 times what it is today, then the economy will have won the race. That means that all of the... MORE

Creative Non-Destruction

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Amar Bhide writes, Over 30 years after the introduction of minicomputers and more than 20 years after the introduction of microcomputers, the mainframe remains an important category. Total worldwide revenues of large-scale computer processors (or mainframes) amounted to $16 billion... MORE

Kurzweil Interview

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Glenn Harlan Reynolds interviews Ray Kurzweil, who generically answers my objection to his forecasts. to achieve the software designs, we need to reverse-engineer the human brain. Here, progress is far greater than most people realize. The spatial and temporal (time)... MORE

Affordable Welfare State

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, Imagine that nanotechnology, or some other version of The Next Big Thing, came to pass. The bounty of nature would be replaced by the bounty of science. Might our economy look a bit more like the welfare... MORE

James Miller's Challenge Bet

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
In my latest essay, I wrote, In my opinion, James Miller is making a bad bet. If you want to bet against Ray Kurzweil, you should look for patterns of prediction errors. As this essay will show, Kurzweil has been... MORE

Productivity Trend

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
James Hamilton writes, Between 1995 and 2004, U.S. output per worker grew at a 2.9% annual rate, even faster than the impressive pre-1973 pace. It's hard to attribute this to a change in any of those factors thought to have... MORE

Jobs are not a scarce resource

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Jeremy Rifkin says, [An economist] would say we are going to create new types of jobs: analysts, consultants, programmers, engineers, educators and technicians, right? That was Robert Reich's idea when he was secretary of labor under Bill Clinton. The problem... 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

The Anti-Malthusian

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Ray Kurzweil is always fascinating. We’ll ultimately disconnect the sensual and social pleasures of eating from the biochemical task of keeping an optimum set of nutrients in our bloodstream. That sounds like a very concise statement of the goal for... MORE

The Hopeful Science

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Richard Cooper writes, Development as a global policy objective dates from the 1940s. Relative to expectations then, the world economy performed outstandingly well during the second half of the 20th century. Worldwide growth in average per capita income exceeded two... MORE

Was Herbert Spencer Reincarnated as Julian Simon?

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
I've come across an essay by Herbert Spencer that is eerily reminiscent of the work of the late great Julian Simon. Writing in the late 19th-century, Spencer proposes the following relationship between objective conditions and public opinion: "[T]he more things... MORE

Futurology

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
While I'm in the middle of reading about "network commonwealths" in James C. Bennett's The Anglosphere Challenge, the National Intelligence Council, a CIA affiliate, has just released Mapping the Global Future. Most forecasts indicate that by 2020 China’s gross national... MORE

Anglosphere Challenge

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
I've started reading The Anglosphere Challenge by James C. Bennett. I'm only up to Chapter One, but already it is very stimulating. For example: In popular misconceptions, it is imagined that in America and the other advanced countries people will... MORE

Capitalism without Capital

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
In a long essay, I write The reduced significance of capital means that the cost of entry is lowered in many industries. Today, we see this in the shops that people have set up on eBay or in the blogs... MORE

Flynn Effect

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Following Marginal Revolution's recommendation, I bought Ian J. Deary's Intelligence, which is a summary of research on IQ testing. For me, the most interesting chapter was on the Flynn effect (see also this post), which is that IQ scores have... MORE

Growth and Economic Literacy

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Bryan Caplan writes, studying the public's beliefs about economics...income growth seems to increase economic literacy, even though income level does not. In other words, poor people whose income is rising—like recent immigrants—have more than the average amount of economic sense;... MORE

Nanotechnology and the Economy

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Ronald Bailey reports, Nanotechnology would make it possible for 100 billion people to live sustainably at a modern American standard of living, while indoor agriculture using high-efficiency inflatable ten-pound diamond greenhouses would help restore the world's ecology. The ultimate limit... MORE

Nonlinear Thinking

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Mark Bahner writes, So we have "the economic literature" with a per-capita GDP mean value in 2100 of $22,900, versus Arnold Kling saying over--way over, in fact!--$20,000,000. What in the world is going on?! Is Arnold Kling a lunatic or... MORE

Escalation of Income

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I suggest using an escalator rather than a pie as a metaphor for differences in income. Overall, over 60 percent of families surveyed in 1975 made it to the top 40 percent in 1991. If the "distribution... MORE

All's Fair in Politics

Public Choice Theory
Michael Munger
by Michael Munger Guest Blogger Economist Ray Fair's very simple model on presidential elections has some interesting things to say about the upcoming election. Given the macro-economic and macro-political factors that have mattered in the past, George W. Bush should... MORE

Home Building Trends

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
One way to track the increased affluence in America is to look at the trends in new home construction. This research report from the National Association of Homebuilders is filled with interesting facts. For example, Some of the features that... MORE

Barbell Labor Market?

Labor Market
Arnold Kling
Frank Levy and Richard J. Murnane predict that computer automation is leading to a split in the labor market. Good jobs will increasingly require expert thinking and complex communication. Jobs that do not require these tasks will not pay a... MORE

Improved Standard of Living

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
In my latest essay, I argue against the view that life is getting harder for all but the rich. In the 1970's, ordinary working people drove Vegas and Pintos. They did not eat out much. They rarely traveled by airplane.... MORE

The Productivity Story, Continued

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
I put together a simple table of productivity performance over the last forty years. The table helps to demonstrate what Brad DeLong is talking about. The 17 percent productivity growth from the first quarter of 2000 to the first quarter... MORE

The Productivity Story

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Is productivity growth the most overlooked economic story? Brad DeLong thinks so, and Virginia Postrel agrees. The productivity story is boring. It isn't really, but editors think it is. There's no obvious conflict, no scandal, no little guy getting hurt... 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

Jobs, Progress, and Displacement

Labor Market
Arnold Kling
Bruce Bartlett pointed to a Dallas Fed analysis of the causes and consequences of higher productivity. One of the sections, on the evolution of work, says The United States will continue to move up the hierarchy of human talents as... MORE

Who is Rich?

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
David R. Henderson and Charley Hooper argue that most of us are rich. Except for the few hundred thousand who are homeless, the Americans whom the U.S. government defines as poor live exceptionally rich lives. In most ways, their lives... MORE

Unstable Information Economy

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Eli Noam says that an economy where the key input is research will be unstable. In industries where up-front costs are high but production and distribution costs approach zero, the main strategy will be to consolidate and cartelise in order... MORE

A Nation of Entrepreneurs?

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Jeff Cornwall points to a survey on entrepreneurship. Cornwall writes, The survey sampled 1,000 Americans over the age of 18. Here are some of their findings: * 56% of Americans dream of starting their own business (E.M. Couple this with... MORE

Science vs. Social Security

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
In an essay called Will Science Save Social Security?, I write, Overall, if events play out over the next quarter century as the technology optimists predict, then GDP will be so astronomical that the costs of Social Security and Medicare... MORE

Electric Liberation

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
A paper by Jeremy Greenwood, Ananth Seshadri, and Mehmet Yorukoglu examines the role of modern appliances in liberating women from housework. To understand the impact of the household revolution, try to imagine the tyranny of household chores at the turn... MORE

Manufacturing Crisis?

International Trade
Arnold Kling
On Labor Day, President Bush announced that there would be a new Assistant Secretary of Commerce charged with addressing the decline in manufacturing employment. This prompted a number of skeptical responses. Yesterday, Daniel Gross wrote, The new assistant secretary must... MORE

Libertarian Manifesto

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Irving Kristol recently wrote a neoconservative manifesto. It is hopeful, not lugubrious; forward-looking, not nostalgic; and its general tone is cheerful, not grim or dyspeptic. Its 20th-century heroes tend to be TR, FDR, and Ronald Reagan. Such Republican and conservative... MORE

Comment of the Week, 2003-08-20

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
This week I got some well-deserved pushback on a couple of posts. Peter Gallagher was not impressed with the story of robots and comparative advantage. (Update: Gallagher posted a new comment with a more favorable interpretation of the robot example.)... MORE

Income over Time

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
I share Brad DeLong's fascination with anecdotes that illustrate historical comparisons of income. He posted one concerning the pay of a professor one hundred years ago. our professor sees himself as a reasonable and badly underpaid man. He is not... MORE

"Concentrated Poverty" Declines

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Paul A. Jargowsky found that "concentrated poverty" (people living in high-poverty neighborhoods) declined by 24 percent in the United States in 1990's. In contrast, he says that from 1970 to 1990 poverty became more concentrated spatially. Based on the trend... MORE

Elastic Economy

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I suggest that the economy has grown more diverse over the past fifty years, making it more elastic. One way to describe the elastic economy is that it has become more complex. Human wants continue to be... MORE

Growth and Anti-Americanism

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Marian L. Tupy writes, If I am correct, then at least some of the roots of contemporary anti-Americanism rest on a deep misunderstanding concerning the functioning of international economics. Contrary to common misconception, the reasons for global economic inequality rest... MORE

Growth in Flour

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Back in December, Virginia Postrel marveled at being able to buy a 5-pound bag of flour for 69 cents. In response, Brad DeLong on his weblog calculated the cumulative gain in productivity over the last 500 years, using flour as... MORE

The Deficit Argument, II

Social Security
Arnold Kling
Liberal and conservative economists are not as far apart on the issues of fiscal policy as it might first appear. Both sides share a concern that government growth could outstrip GDP growth. The position of liberal economists on the U.S.... MORE

Growth and Displacement

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Glenn (Instapundit) Reynolds links to a pessimistic treatment of economic growth by Michael Rogers. In my little part of the world that sample has included advertising agency people, a television executive, two doctors, a lawyer, a retail stockbroker, a building... MORE

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