Monthly Archives: October 2006

Standards based pay vs performance pay

Kim Beazley has been characterised by some in the media as being in favour of performance pay. Which is odd, because last Friday, he said that he opposed it: Julie Bishop says the Government supports so-called “merit pay”. What do … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education, Media | 13 Comments

A tale of two religion clauses

My wife, an American, was gobsmacked when I read out the story from today’s paper that the Australian government is spending $90 million to put chaplains in schools. To most Americans, the idea that the government would use public funds to … Continue reading

Posted in Law | 21 Comments

Government Managing Risk

My colleague Professor Bruce Chapman has a new book out on income-contingent loans, entitled Government Managing Risk: Income-Contingent Loans for Social and Economic Progress. The book discusses ways in which the HECS model for student loans could be applied to … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Economics Generally, Low Wage Work, Sport, Universities | 3 Comments

Back on the Blog

Returning from Fraser Island, where my wife and I eloped for a few days to celebrate her 30th birthday, I discover I’ve missed 150 emails, a couple of dozen blog comments, and a -2 degree cold snap in Canberra. It may … Continue reading

Posted in Blogging | Comments Off on Back on the Blog

More evidence on teacher merit pay

Individual Teacher Incentives And Student Performance by David N. Figlio, Lawrence Kenny  This paper is the first to systematically document the relationship between individual teacher performance incentives and student achievement using United States data.  We combine data from the National … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education | 5 Comments

The new Australian federal minimum wage is $511.86/week or $13.47/hour

The Australian Fair Pay Commission has handed down its first decision. The Australian Fair Pay Commission has announced its Federal Minimum Wage decision for October 2006. The Commission announced an increase of $27.36 per week for minimum wage rates up … Continue reading

Posted in Low Wage Work | 18 Comments

Did the buyback lower gun suicides?

Discussing the Baker & McPhedran paper, commenter “Ungrateful Troublemaker” asks: Suicides: Shootings, hangings (whether vertical or assisted horizontal), leaps from high bridges and medication overdoses are rather obvious but what about death-by-motor-vehicle? An area that, for a lot of reasons, … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 7 Comments

Shooting for the moon

Did the gun buyback reduce gun homicides or suicides? According to a new paper in the British Journal of Criminology by Jeanine Baker and Samara McPhedran, it didn’t. (The two have been criticised for their affiliations to the gun lobby, … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Economics Generally | 46 Comments

New econblogger on the block

Peter Martin, one of my favourite Australian economics journalists, has: (a) moved to Canberra, and (b) started a blog. Check out his recent posts on how the media reforms have made Australia’s richest man a billion dollars richer, how journalists … Continue reading

Posted in Blogging, Media | 1 Comment


The Australian Fair Pay Commission is handing down its decision on Thursday at 11am. The current minimum wage is $484.40 per week (or $12.75 per hour for a 38 hour week). The ACTU has asked for an increase of $30 … Continue reading

Posted in Low Wage Work | 8 Comments

ANU RSSS Seminar Schedule

The ANU RSSS economics seminar schedule for Oct-Dec is over the fold.

Posted in Universities | Comments Off on ANU RSSS Seminar Schedule

In pursuit of happy little vegemites

Many of the great delights in the world are cross-cultural. One is the splendid discovery that the best way to eat vegemite is on proper fresh-cooked American bagel. But now, it seems that may have all come to an end. … Continue reading

Posted in US Politics | 12 Comments

Getting to 'Yes'

One of the great ironies of modern telecommunications is that it’s really hard to speak to your phone company. This evening, I called Optus at 8.15pm to ask about a problem with my mobile phone bill. After a 20-minute wait, … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 5 Comments


According to the NYT, Barack Obama is now countenancing a run for President in 2008. If it turned out to be Obama vs McCain, that would be a race worth moving to the US to watch.

Posted in US Politics | 4 Comments

Raising starting pay buys smarter teachers

A couple of months ago, Chris Ryan and I put out a paper showing that there had been a decline in the literacy and numeracy standards of new teachers over the period 1983-2003. This led to some discussion about what reforms … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education | 2 Comments

Rate my Prof

How good are our existing measures for assessing the ‘value-added’ of different university lecturers? According to a new Canadian paper, those much-maligned student ratings do a better job of predicting value-added than faculty rank. Professor Qualities and Student Achievement by Florian Hoffmann, … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education | 7 Comments

Um, one has 5 letters, and the other has 6?

This is among the scarier things I’ve read recently. It’s by Jeff Stein, the National Security editor at Congressional Quarterly: FOR the past several months, I’ve been wrapping up lengthy interviews with Washington counterterrorism officials with a fundamental question: “Do … Continue reading

Posted in Iraq | 1 Comment

Yet another talk on randomised policy trials

I’m speaking at 4pm next Monday at the Government Policy Innovation conference in Sydney. If you or your organisation has a spare $2634, I’ll look forward to seeing you there. Otherwise, this is the paper I’ll be talking about.

Posted in Australian Politics | 2 Comments

Wanted: An Inconvenient Youth

Want to be Al Gore? David Jeffery shows you how.

Posted in Australian Politics | Comments Off on Wanted: An Inconvenient Youth

Cheap as sips

With birds in the air, trees ablossom, and summer just around the corner, the thoughts of environmental economists naturally turn to water pricing. Among the best of them is ANU’s Quentin Grafton, who will be presenting an ANU seminar on this very … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 3 Comments

Upping the Anti

I spoke this morning at a seminar organised by the Youth Coalition of the ACT, for Antipoverty Week. I argued that cutting effective marginal tax rates (or introducing a wage subsidy) is a better way of tackling poverty than raising … Continue reading

Posted in Inequality, Low Wage Work | 4 Comments

A place called Hope

In a book* written a few years ago, I argued that negative political ads hurt left-wing parties more than right-wing parties. If you’re a classic small-government conservative, rising distrust of politicians is consistent with the Reaganesque ‘government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem’ message. … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, US Politics | 7 Comments

Indonesian Inequality

I presented a seminar this afternoon at ANU’s Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, on top incomes in Indonesia between 1920 and 2005. My expertise on this project is empirical, not substantive. Unlike my coauthor, Pierre Van Der Eng, I don’t … Continue reading

Posted in Inequality, Tax | Comments Off on Indonesian Inequality

Provocative papers

One of the joys of subscribing to the NBER working paper series is the questions that some of the world’s best economists come up with. This week’s questions: Are immigrants to blame for African-Americans going to jail? Do Indonesians who … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 3 Comments

The elasticity of promotions with respect to blog output is approximately zero

Commentary on academic bloggers in the United States tends to give the sense that university promotions committees regard blogging as either a big plus or a big minus. I’ve never had much data to go on in Australia, but I went … Continue reading

Posted in Blogging, Universities | 4 Comments


I posted some time ago about Economy-Chat, a compilation of economics blogs. Now another aggregation site, BlogNetBiz, has gotten into the act. The two sites use a slightly different mix of blog feeds, so if you like reading a bunch … Continue reading

Posted in Blogging, Economics Generally | 1 Comment

Rising Toll

A new Lancet study estimates that one in forty Iraqis (650,000 people) have died since the 2003 invasion. It’s a careful piece of research, which – unlike the last Lancet study – also compares its figures with those from the Iraq Body … Continue reading

Posted in Iraq | Comments Off on Rising Toll

Recognising top teachers

Recognising that good universities benefit from great school teachers, ANU will be offering a prize this year for excellence in secondary school teaching. We’re asking all ANU undergraduates who are graduating in December to nominate a favourite teacher. I’m rather … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education, Universities | 1 Comment

The first economist to win a Nobel Prize

Economist Muhammad Yunus, has won the Nobel Peace Prize, for his work on microcredit. From the citation: Muhammad Yunus has shown himself to be a leader who has managed to translate visions into practical action for the benefit of millions … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally, Global issues | 8 Comments

Last Lecturer

In ANU news just breaking: Prof Chris Reus-Smit is the winner of this year’s Last Lecture. Chris is the Head of the Department of International Relations, and the Deputy Director of RSPAS, but, more importantly, is the lecturer chosen by … Continue reading

Posted in Universities | 1 Comment