Category Archives: Law

Street Racing, circa 1994

Fifteen years ago, in an earlier incarnation (law student), I wrote a newspaper article and an academic journal article on illegal street racing. Last weekend, while going through old papers at my parents’ home, I came across the transcripts of … Continue reading

Posted in Law

Better Jails

My AFR oped today is on prison reform. You can’t put acknowledgements in an opinion piece, but the piece owes a substantial debt to Justin Wolfers, who first suggested the idea of smarter prison contracts about 7 years ago, when … Continue reading

Posted in Law | 3 Comments

Journalism by the Numbers

It’s terrific to see journalists doing investigative work to dig out interesting numbers. Two recent examples. On the weekend, Michael Duffy (not, not that one) estimated for the SMH that Australian drug prohibition costs A$4.7 billion annually. Although it’s in … Continue reading

Posted in Health economics, Labour Economics, Law | 5 Comments

Randomised political trials, drugs and crime

Two interesting new economics papers from the latest NBER batch. Party Affiliation, Partisanship, and Political Beliefs: A Field Experiment (ungated unstable link) Alan S. Gerber, Gregory A. Huber & Ebonya Washington Political partisanship is strongly correlated with attitudes and behavior, … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Elections, Law, Randomisation | 1 Comment

The Economics of Sex Work

My oped today is on the economics of sex work. For the most part, researching the piece involved reading other people’s work. But there did come a point when I realised that while the Australian Bureau of Statistics has an … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of the Family, Labour Economics, Law | 9 Comments

Permissiveness as Fiscal Stimulus

Jeff Ely and Tyler Cowen think that a useful economic stimulus could be provided to the US economy by repealing prohibitions on trade with Cuba, immigration, drugs, prostitution, gambling and guns. Some of these look like no-brainers (eg. particularly trade … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally, Law | 1 Comment

One born every minute

The ABS has a new survey out today on personal fraud (HT: Dan Andrews). The headline in tomorrow’s reporting will doubtless be the finding that 453,100 Australians lost on average $2,160 as a result of personal fraud. But what surprised me … Continue reading

Posted in Law | 2 Comments

Crime Conference

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics (BOCSAR) is running a conference in Sydney on 18-19 February 2009, and are calling for abstracts. Conference details here (submissions close 11 July). I’m giving a plenary talk, which I’m very excited about. The man … Continue reading

Posted in Law

Better to let 9x9x9 innocent numbers go free?

News that a million-dollar drug trial has been aborted because the jurors were playing Sudoku makes Steven Landsburg’s proposed incentive system suddenly look rather attractive. Weighing evidence is a difficult job. It requires a lot of attention and a lot of energy. … Continue reading

Posted in Law | 13 Comments

The Corro

The SMH today reports on an exchange of letters between Reverend Richard Lane and High Court Justice Michael Kirby. The rector of St Stephen’s Church in Bellevue Hill, the Reverend Richard Lane, denounced the judge for calling himself a Christian Anglican … Continue reading

Posted in Law | 2 Comments

Registers and Recidivism

From Jonah Rockoff and JJ Prescott comes news that publicly accessible registers of convicted sex offenders (now in place across the US, perhaps coming soon to an Australian state near you) do not unambiguously reduce crime. Do Sex Offender Registration … Continue reading

Posted in Law | 1 Comment

What Do Economists Know About Crime?

According to a new paper by Jeff Miron and coauthors, not very much at all. They focus almost solely on time series variation (hence missing some of the more interesting local variation), but the results are provocative nonetheless.

Posted in Law | 4 Comments

More Men, More Crime

From looking at the jail population, we know that blokes in most countries commit at least 4 out of 5 major crimes. But now it looks as though the same is also true in aggregate. More Men, More Crime: Evidence … Continue reading

Posted in Law | 9 Comments

Store Eschews Cruise Views: Ruse?

According to a report in today’s paper, a couple of major Australian booksellers are refusing to sell a new Tom Cruise biography that is critical of Scientology. Book retailer Dymocks says it will not sell the biography. “We take all … Continue reading

Posted in Law | 10 Comments

The Market for Street Prostitution

I’m presently at the American Economics Association’s annual meetings in New Orleans, enjoying listening to research on peer effects, teacher labour markets, the economics of the media, and field experiments. But the most entertaining is Steven Levitt’s latest paper, which … Continue reading

Posted in From the Frontiers, Law | 7 Comments

Edgy Economics

I’ve become interested lately in the economics of illegal or semi-legal activities, an area that seems to be utterly under-researched, and which I think could make a really good honours or masters thesis. To name just a few areas, I … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally, Law | 7 Comments

He used to rob old ladies, but now he just plays video games all day

I blogged a few months ago about empirical evidence suggesting that pornography might reduce sexual assault (not increase it, as most media and political commentators seem to assume). In a similar vein, a new study on video games seems to … Continue reading

Posted in From the Frontiers, Law | 4 Comments

Luck of the Law

Applying new economics techniques to questions that the legal profession has been investigating for some time, Chicago law professor David Abrams has two clever papers that exploit the random assignment of judges to defendants, and lawyers to clients. Abstracts over … Continue reading

Posted in Law, Randomisation | 6 Comments

Good news, you're in the control group

I like to think I’m as much a fan of randomised trials as anyone. But I’m not sure that even I would go so far as suggesting randomisation when it comes to working out the deterrent effects of the death … Continue reading

Posted in Law, Randomisation | 9 Comments

How's your 'hood?

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research – definitely the best state or territory crime body in the country – is planning to provide people with precise details on where crimes occur (report here, data here). It looks like the … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education, Law | 3 Comments

Death Penalty Downunder

With the politics of capital punishment in the news lately, I thought I’d blog on three interesting pieces of work that have crossed my desk. Realists: In new ARC-funded (but not endorsed!) research, Sinclair Davidson and Tim Fry analyse the … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Law | 4 Comments

Flying Low

There are many wonderful things about the US. Its airports are not among them. As Joshua Gans mentioned recently (in wishfully-numbered post 787), America’s flying delays seem far worse than in Australia or Europe. We’re presently flying back from Philly to … Continue reading

Posted in Law, Travel

Young man, did you see anything left lying around here?

Joshua Gans draws my attention to a cute US field experiment, which involved dropping 100 wallets, and seeing whether the finders returned them. While the sample clearly isn’t random,* it’s big enough that the age, gender and racial differences are … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally, Law | 2 Comments

Behind the Bench

I blogged last year about the fact that too few judicial associateships are publicly advertised. A reader helpfully emails to let me know that Western Australia’s Supreme Court judges are now looking for associates for next year. Details here. Meanwhile, … Continue reading

Posted in Law

Baby Jihad

On the topic of baby names, commenter Russell draws my attention to a new list of popular names, this time from Western Australia. I couldn’t help noticing the fact that the boys’ list begins: Jack Thomas Incidentally, my wife and I have … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of the Family, Law | 5 Comments

Cultural learnings of America

We saw Borat last night. I’d rate it 7/10. Some funny scenes (the rodeo anthem is gutsy), but overall it felt like a bit of a grab-bag of material. And a surprisingly short one (the official website says it’s an … Continue reading

Posted in Law, Media

Brief Idea

To mark the 150th anniversary of Louis Brandeis’s birthday, Adam Cohen has  a neat oped in the NYT on the Brandeis brief. For Brandeis, raw data was always key. Oliver Wendell Holmes, his distinguished senior colleague, once complained that Brandeis … Continue reading

Posted in Law | 6 Comments

Incorporating just about anything

The High Court has dismissed a challenge by state governments and unions to the Work Choices legislation (Callinan J and Kirby J dissenting). The full judgment is here. Bottom line: the corporations power in the Constitution (section 51(xx)) is now … Continue reading

Posted in Law, Media | 5 Comments

Slow copy

Last week, Kim Weatherall made the point on her blog that the new copyright legislation would criminalise the recording of a live concert on your mobile phone. This week, the mainstream media catches up. (Given the depth of commentary on Kim’s blog … Continue reading

Posted in Law | 3 Comments

Time to Cut CAL

The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee is holding hearings on copyright law reform today. Among the worst ideas put before it is a submission from the Copyright Agency Limited (CAL), which argues things like: there shouldn’t be a satire exemption (you can almost … Continue reading

Posted in Law | 11 Comments