Monthly Archives: July 2007

Power, Passion and Policy

Steven Levitt lists a number of ‘dangerous’ questions asked by Steven Pinker (eg. ‘Are suicide terrorists well-educated, mentally healthy and morally driven?’, ‘Is morality just a product of the evolution of our brains, with no inherent reality?’), and notes that … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 7 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

Tax Cheating

A couple of new papers suggest that most Australians believe that cheating on your taxes is wrong (62% say that tax evasion is never justifiable), and that Aussies are no more likely to evade tax than Americans or New Zealanders. … Continue reading

Posted in Tax

ANU RSSS Economics Seminar Schedule: July-Aug 2007

Our seminar schedule for the next 2 months is below.

Posted in Coming Events

All politics is local. Some politics is random.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about randomised trials lately, and have come across a paper that I had previously only heard rumours about. In 2001, NYU political science professor Leonard Wantchekon managed to persuade four African political candidates to randomly … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 4 Comments

How to turn betting odds into probabilities

A colleague emailed me today, asking how to turn betting odds into probabilities, and reminded me that this is something I’ve been meaning to blog about for some time. To some readers, it will be obvious, but to non-gamblers, it … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, US Politics | 7 Comments

Dems on YouTube

The Democrats’ CNN/YouTube debate last night was one of the best political things I’ve seen on TV for a long time. If you didn’t see it and are pressed for time, all the questions are here. My favourites were gay … Continue reading

Posted in US Politics

Econ talking stuff

I’m in Boston this week, attending the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Summer Institute. Thanks to the magic of the internet, you too can see much of what I’m seeing. I’m flitting between the labor studies, health economics, tax, and children’s meetings, … Continue reading

Posted in From the Frontiers | 2 Comments

Uni Advice

For anyone starting university, I can highly recommend reading this comments thread, with Marginal Revolution readers answering Tyler Cowen’s question: Your kid is going away to college for the first time. What advice do you offer her?

Posted in Universities | 2 Comments

Should teens drink?

I’d always been somewhat agnostic about the right drinking age – but now Jeff Miron (libertarian and ex-blogger) and Elina Tetelbaum have suggested that perhaps Australia’s 18 is better than the US’s 21. Does the Minimum Legal Drinking Age Save Lives? Jeffrey A. Miron … Continue reading

Posted in Health economics | 9 Comments

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

What happens when everyone drives their kids to school in SUVs

I’m still trying to work out whether I should file this paper under the category “interesting and surprising”, or “econometric validation of something we always knew”. Does Pollution Increase School Absences? by Janet Currie, Eric Hanushek, E. Megan Kahn, Matthew … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education | 4 Comments

Has the government made us rich?

In a classically fact-filled blogpost, Andrew Norton expresses his skepticism about this quote, from Andrew Charlton: The most popular misconception in economics and politics is that if the economy is humming along, the government must be doing a good job … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 7 Comments

Like the corners of my mind

Earlier this year, I bought a Dell XPS1210 laptop. Generally speaking, it’s been well-behaved, but in late-June, it developed a problem with the memory. I had always thought that when a computer has memory problems, it is simply unable to … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 2 Comments

Sunny Sundays and Executive Earnings

It’s a comfortably warm day in New York, and 5-month old Sebastian and I have just returned from an early morning walk, where we engaged in one of life’s great pleasures – sitting the sun reading the Sunday New York … Continue reading

Posted in Inequality | 5 Comments

Two Bills

Dan Andrews drew my attention to the speeches of Bill Gates and Bill Clinton at this year’s Harvard graduation ceremony. Both are superb speeches, and take a strikingly similar theme: global inequality matters, and it’s possible to do something about … Continue reading

Posted in Inequality, Trade & Development | 2 Comments

Where are the Replicants?

Dan Hamermesh has a paper out on replication in empirical economics. It begins: Economists treat replication the way teenagers treat chastity—as an ideal to be professed but not to be practiced. He quotes from several replication controversies, including what he … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 8 Comments

Infant Interventions

My oped in the AFR this month is on early childhood intervention. Full text over the fold. I had the benefit of comments from Nicholas Gruen and Justin Wolfers, though the usual disclaimer applies.

Posted in Economics of Education | 11 Comments

Go ask your older brother – he's the smart one

According to a new study using Norwegian data, older siblings are 3 IQ points smarter than their younger brothers. Older and Wiser?  Birth Order and IQ of Young Men  Sandra E. Black, Paul J. Devereux, Kjell G. Salvanes  While recent … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education, Economics of the Family | 6 Comments

Australian food stamps?

I’ll unfortunately be out of town for it, but my colleague Bob Gregory is organising a topical lecture on 19 July. All welcome, no registration required. Research School of Social Sciences Theme Seminar Series F H Gruen Lecture At 5.00pm … Continue reading

Posted in Coming Events | 3 Comments

A day with the pinstripers

I went up to the Bronx yesterday to see the New York Yankees play the LA Angels. Glorious scorcher of a cloudless day, and a packed stadium. The Yankees beat the Angels 12-0, so it wasn’t exactly nail-biting, but the fans … Continue reading

Posted in Sports, Travel | 10 Comments

Sure it's a D, but is he doing better than last time?

A sensible piece in the NYT looks at the use of growth scores to track student performance. There are some inevitable problems with this: chief among them that changes are statistically more variable than levels, and changes are sensitive to … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education | 1 Comment

It's all in the timing

Thanks to psychologists (and a few economists), we know that the way issues are framed can have a big difference on how they’re perceived. In a signal illustration of the importance of context, the Fair Pay Commission’s decision to raise … Continue reading

Posted in Low Wage Work | 17 Comments

Odds 150

Posted in Australian Politics | 19 Comments

Betting now open on all federal electorates

Portlandbet has just opened betting on all 150 seats for the 2007 federal election. In 2001 and 2004, Centrebet offered markets on 47 and 33 seats respectively, but this is a much more substantial undertaking. Even if you’re in the … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 6 Comments

Heat, Heart attacks, Hurricanes and Handouts

A couple of fun new papers from the NBER, showing that (a) hot spells shift deaths, but cold snaps raise them (so moving to warmer climates is good for your health), and (b) it ain’t hard to manipulate charitable giving. … Continue reading

Posted in From the Frontiers

Starting Early

Papers from the 20 June Melbourne Business School event on early childhood intervention are now available on the event website. The other three speakers – Ross Homel, Frank Oberklaid and Sue Richardson – have posted theirs, but I was tardy … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education

Revealed preference versus stated preference

Joshua Gans reports on coverage of our paper on obstetrics conferences in the Oz. The amusing thing about the report is that although the obstetricians changed the time of their conference just after we showed them our paper, they still … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of the Family

For Love or Money?

The NYT today carries an oped by Barry Schwartz, criticising New York’s plan to pay disadvantaged kids for good school performance. It’s a reasoned critique, accepting the parlous state of many New York schools that serve disadvantaged kids, but making … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education | 5 Comments

The economics of everything

Angus Deaton writes an entertaining letter for the Royal Economic Society’s quarterly newsletter. In his latest missive, he discusses how the scope of US economics is changing, by discussing the presentations from this year’s Princeton job market candidates. Among the topics … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally, From the Frontiers | 10 Comments