Monthly Archives: June 2005

Social Capital Symposium

I’m running a social capital symposium in Canberra on August 29, featuring Robert Putnam, Michael Woolcock and Paul Frijters. The program is over the fold, and a link to the registration form is below. Unfortunately, we had to cover some … Continue reading

Posted in Interesting stuff

NSW Comes into the Twenty-First Century

NSW is finally joining the rest of the developed world (apart from a few other Australian states!) in publishing school test scores, valuable information for any parent choosing a school. Those on the left who are resisting this move should … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized

Latham Shenanigans

Labor strategists are bound to have twisted knickers this week over the Latham comments. Much like the Blewett diaries, I’m inclined to think that this will pass pretty quickly, and the Labor historians will be better for getting such an … Continue reading

Posted in Current Affairs | 1 Comment

State Wage Subsidies?

I’m currently working on an article looking at how states could engage in "healthy interstate competition", by using wage subsidies (or negative income taxes) to encourage low-skilled workers into the workforce. Given the substantial fall in male full-time employment over … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues

Where's that Greenie-Economist Alliance When you Need it?

The various business economists who have argued against lowering the petrol tax are probably right, assuming that we think the prices are going to stay this high (if prices are about to come down, you could construct a good argument … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 4 Comments

Inequality and the ARC

While writing a rejoinder to my Australian Research Council referee reports, it occurred to me what an odd system we have for handing out money to academics. 40% of the funding decision is based on track record, relative to opportunity. … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues

That's Pretty Rich

I have a review of two "all-time rich list" books in the latest issue of the Economic Record. Parts of it are a bit wonkish, but people with an interest in inequality may find it worth skimming. Full text over … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 1 Comment

More Haste, More Korupsi

Recent reports that Australia has so far only spent $10 million of the pledged $1 billion to rebuild Aceh after the Boxing Day tsunami shouldn’t be cause for concern. It’s one thing to respond fast in providing food, water and … Continue reading

Posted in Global issues


The Canberra Times today carries a front page story with the heading "25pc of prostitutes students, says sex industry" (the CT’s website is generally a day out of date, so check here on Monday). As Andrew Norton has pointed out, … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 3 Comments

Economics vs Psychology

Following on from Jason Soon’s Catallaxy post about what economists can learn from evolutionary theory, I thought I should highlight economist Ed Glaeser’s take on the interaction between economics and psychology, which is more critical of psychology than most behavioural … Continue reading

Posted in Interesting stuff

You know you've been spouting political jargon for too long when…

Roger Price MP, speaking about John Anderson’s retirement in the House of Representatives on June 23: I know John is a devoted family man and I think that every member of parliament, no matter how humble their position, has a … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues

Inspirational Reading

1. Kate’s guest blog entry on Larvartus Prodeo: Disability: A Personal Story. 2. Dr Atul Gawande’s address to the Harvard Medical School graduating class of 2005 (a must-read for doctors, a should-read for everyone else).

Posted in Uncategorized

Why So Sad, Cobber?

David Blanchflower (Dartmouth) and Andrew Oswald (Warwick) have a new NBER working paper out on happiness. It’s entitled "Happiness and the Human Development Index: The Paradox of Australia", and the abstract reads: According to the well-being measure known as the … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 3 Comments


I was chatting last night with a lawyer at a big Sydney law firm, and mentioned that I was doing work on teacher salaries. In NSW, teachers start on $35,000, and the best-paid get $65,000. She mentioned that starting lawyers … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


I suspect the Pezzutti-Kelly Italy transcripts will mark the last time that members of parliament release transcripts of their meetings to the public.

Posted in Travel

The Funny Shall Inherit the Earth

Centrebet‘s Big Brother odds have shifted since I last looked at them, with meek ‘n mild Tim taking over from Logan as favourite. Centrebet’s current odds are: TIM 2.60 KATE 3.25 LOGAN (DAVID/GREG) 3.25 CHRISTIE 7.50 GLENN 13.00 DEAN 15.00 … Continue reading

Posted in Television

World Roundup

Harper’s Weekly Review is particularly entertaining this week (thanks to CM for the link). Full text over the fold.

Posted in Interesting stuff

Senator Peter Cook

Along with 14 other Senators,* West Australian Senator Peter Cook retires at the end of this month. I worked as Peter’s trade adviser from 1998-2000, when he was shadow trade minister, and learned a tremendous amount. It was only a … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues

More on Pakistan

Nicholas Kristof continues his campaign in the NYT for the west to put more pressure on Pakistan (full text over the fold). He mentions the embarassment that President Musharraf faced in New Zealand, but said nothing of his reception in … Continue reading

Posted in Global issues

What I'm Reading

One good thing about international flights is that they do allow you to churn through a few more books than usual. Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink is about the value and limitations of snap decisions. Gladwell’s a rolicking writer, though like many … Continue reading

Posted in Books | 6 Comments

What's in a Name?

Few people’s names bring a smile to the face like that of Cardinal Sin, who passed away today. The world is poorer for his passing, but at least Richard Face is still alive and well.

Posted in Interesting stuff

Monarchy on the Molonglo?

We thought we were being radical arguing for some big Senate reforms in the Canberra Times recently. But it turns out we’re nowhere near as angry about the way that parliament functions today as the Clerk of the Senate, Harry … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues

Reforming Sydney

The SMH is ‘thinking big’ with its campaign for Sydney (summary here, more detail here), but the campaign has the feeling of Democrats’ press release. There are lots of waffly ideas (eg. "Pursue transport strategy to target soaring car use"), … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 1 Comment


A rather odd oped by Khadija Carroll in today’s SMH bemoans the fact that current Aussie students at Harvard aren’t doing sufficiently worthy research. Although I was also a Frank Knox scholar at Harvard, I didn’t overlap with Khadija, but … Continue reading

Posted in Travel | 3 Comments

Arise Ye Workers From Your Slumbers

The ACTU today starts a major membership drive. I’m relatively optimistic that this is a good use of their money. Although the factors that have driven unionisation down over the past 25 years aren’t going to be reversed (see here … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues

Sincerely Flattered

Adele Horin had a piece in today’s SMH calling for more liberal arts degrees. I agreed with it, but felt like I’d heard the ideas somewhere before.

Posted in Australian issues | 10 Comments

The Levers and Cables View of Policy

On my bike ride home yesterday, a comment by Catallaxy‘s Andrew Norton got me thinking more about the way in which people approach policy solutions. Responding to my casting doubt on the methodology of a recent study that claimed to … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues

New Study Proves 9/10 Researchers Can't Distinguish Correlation from Causation (Or Why We Need a Better Press Corps)

A new study out of Flinders University looked at the number of friends that elderly people had in 1992. When they re-contacted the subjects in 2002, they found that those who had more friends were less likely to have died. … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 9 Comments


Yesterday featured a rather unusual event – a day-long celebration of the career of economics professor Bob Gregory, who headed the economics program at ANU RSSS from 1987-2005, served on the Reserve Bank Board from 1985-95, and since 1969 has … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 1 Comment

Unfair Dismissals

Justin Wolfers and I have a piece in the SMH today on unfair dismissals (full text over the fold). We make three points: 1. The reforms are pretty modest, and probably won’t cause the OECD to amend their rating of … Continue reading

Posted in Australian issues | 3 Comments