Help, Help! I’m being repressed!

I’m watching the re-re-renewed debate about academic bias against conservatives with a little more skin in the game this time around. Two facts about me: for some strange reason I’m considered conservative by my academic friends, especially by non-economists, and I have decided to take a job outside of academics. So clearly there’s bias in […]

Does the Welfare State screw the poor?

Milton Friedman’s complaints about rent control and the minimum wage are cliche. These programs hurt the people they’re intended to help. Unintended negative consequences are the first things I look for when I think about a policy intended to help the poor. I just took their existence as an empirical fact. But I never really […]

Substitutability as default?

I’m jumping ahead of my own narrative, but why does it seem ingrained in people (including economists) that immigrants must be competing with native workers? Why is complementarity so much more unlikely in people’s priors? We don’t have this bias when it comes to new technologies. In fact, we have the opposite bias. Despite the […]

Immigrants taking our jerbs?

I’m writing a “vulgarized” immigration paper (my Italian co-author’s adjective). One thing we academics like to do is pick on the idea that immigrants take the jobs of native-born Americans. Watching Fox the last couple of weeks, it doesn’t seem like many folks take that point of view anymore. Conservatives talk about the “rule of […]

Stated preferences

I just finished the first happiness tracking cycle and they‘ve sent me my Happiness Report. There’s some unsurprising things like I’m happier on the weekends and when I’m doing stuff I want to do. The surprises: I’m happier when I’m interacting with more than one person There’s no relationship between the quality of sleep and […]

PK and the literature

I always laugh when Paul Krugman urges others to read the literature. He’s a brilliant economist, but he’s not exactly the goto guy for literature reviews… Today he says that Sumner and Avant should read the literature on macro vs micro labor supply elasticities. Well, ok, he says they should only read half of that […]

Mike D’s utility

Mike D commented on this post: Let’s think about two axes here. On the x axis, put altruism (the weight my assessment of your utility has in my utility function) and on the y axis, put respect (if I assess your situation using my utility function, respect = 0, if I assess your situation using […]

Genes or culture or both?

An implication of Wilkinson’s theory is that intergenerational mobility should decrease over time. Wilkinson claims intergenerational mobility has decreased. It hasn’t (estimates from Lee and Salon 2009): The “intergenerational elasticity” (the percentage kids’ incomes raise for every percentage increase in parents’ income) has stayed about the same over the last couple of decades. Other studies […]

England since, like, ever

Prof. Clark sits in the “what revolution?” camp among economic historians that try to date the industrial revolution. His data: Why does this matter? Well, if there was no revolution, only evolution, to modern industrial society, you need an underlying evolutionary mechanism. Clark favors genes-based stories, but most other folks are more comfortable with culture-based […]

A definition of paternalism

Just read Mankiw’s new paper and this occurred to me: I’m definitely a jerk if I don’t have other’s outcomes in my utility function. I’m a paternalist if I have other people’s consumption in my utility function, not their utility. This is why a paternalist can give you healthcare instead of cash because your consumption […]