Monthly Archives: March 2008

Falling Behind

A couple of years ago, I read a paper by Roland Fryer and Steve Levitt (non-technical version here), which found that the black-white test score gap in the US widened after children hit school.* With my colleague Xiaodong Gong, we decided … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education, Indigenous Policy | Comments Off on Falling Behind

Training Teachers

One interesting idea that I’ve heard recently is that education training should move towards the medical model. Just as they have ‘teaching hospitals’, we might think about designating particular schools as being those where most teachers do their practicums (and maybe … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education | 10 Comments

Ayres on Air

Supercrunchers author Ian Ayres was on the BBC program “The Interview” today. For anyone who’s interested in how statistics can change the world, the podcast is here.

Posted in From the Frontiers | 2 Comments

Starry Starry Night

8pm last night featured a conversation in our house that may have resonated elsewhere: Spouse: OK, 8pm, time to turn off the lights and put on candles. Me: But we have energy-saving bulbs, so surely the candles produce more carbon … Continue reading

Posted in Environmental Economics | 7 Comments

The Economics of Labour Shortages

I spoke today at the Melbourne Institute’s conference on the topic of labour supply and labour shortages. For anyone who’s interested, here’s my powerpoint. I shared the stage with Judith Sloan, Jeff Lawrence, Heather Ridout and Guyonne Kalb, which made … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 5 Comments

Just a little tip

In tonight’s Economics for Government class, I mentioned Ian Ayres’ work on racial bias in taxi tipping. Here’s his Freakonomics blog post on the topic. So far as I’m aware, no-one has done anything on the economics of tipping in … Continue reading

Posted in Economics for Government Course | 5 Comments

Gans 2020

My coauthor Joshua Gans is a well-deserved invitee to the 2020 summit, and blogs on the ideas he’ll bring to the table. For Joshua, I think the tradeoff will be between contributing to every policy debate on offer; versus making a … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 1 Comment

Of Kids and Kings

My AFR oped today is on school funding. Perhaps because I’ve been reading too many speeches by Barack Obama, I set out four principles that I thought all sides in the education debate should be able to agree on. I’d … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 20 Comments

Happiness postponed

I had been planning to hold a conference on happiness at the ANU on 2 June, but have decided to cancel it. Something similar may go ahead in 2009. Apologies to anyone who had been eagerly awaiting it.

Posted in Coming Events | Comments Off on Happiness postponed

Cash 4 Class in Colombia

I’ve been arguing recently that one idea which should be randomly trialled in Indigenous communities in Australia is a cash payment for attending school. Blog reader Brendan Duong points out that I should get some succor from the success of a … Continue reading

Posted in Indigenous Policy, Trade & Development | Comments Off on Cash 4 Class in Colombia

Obama on Race

According to Intrade, the person most likely to be the next US President is Barack Obama (their current prices suggest Obama 44%, McCain 40%, Clinton 16%). He’s just given a speech on race in Philadelphia that Nicholas Kristof calls the … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

BB Bounce

Thanks to Peter Martin, some of my research on the Baby Bonus has resurfaced in the press over recent days. Joshua Gans has more.

Posted in Uncategorized | 29 Comments

DC current

My friend Michael Fullilove is spending the year in Washington DC, and has begun blogging on the Lowy Institute ‘Interpreter’ blog, handling topics from the vegemite of national values to whether the press should have reported the Spitzer affair. I’ve added … Continue reading

Posted in Blogging | Comments Off on DC current


I’ve just implemented a redesign of my ANU website, aimed at making my research papers, opeds and other writings a little more accessible to the world. If you have comments/suggestions, I’m keen to hear them. My HTML abilities are limited … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Should we subsidise stay-at-home spouses?

Misha Schubert has a piece in the Age today looking at the dependent spouse rebate, a payment akin to Family Tax Benefit Part B, but for people without children. I confess to not having given this particular tax rebate a … Continue reading

Posted in Tax | 33 Comments

Tuesday Talks

I’m giving two talks on Tuesday 18 March, both of which are open to the public. Media Slant (with Joshua Gans) 12.30-1.30pm Coombs Seminar Room A, ANU What do economists know about schools? 5.30pm for 6-7pm Canberra Club, West Row, … Continue reading

Posted in Coming Events | 3 Comments

Leadership by the Famous Paul 't Hart

My political science colleague Paul ‘t Hart is giving a talk on Wednesday (details here) on the topic ‘Leadership by the Famous: Celebrity as Political Capital’. Here’s the paper. For a more ascerbic perspective on the same topic, here’s Michael … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, US Politics | Comments Off on Leadership by the Famous Paul 't Hart

Out with the bath water

Joshua Gans blogs about precisely how we should abolish the baby bonus. I concur.

Posted in Health economics | 1 Comment

You can take the man out of the legal profession…

The federal government today opted not to make a specific recommendation to the Australian Fair Pay Commission as to the level of the minimum wage. To my mind, this is eminently sensible. I cannot think of another instance in which … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 3 Comments

Testing the Tanking Theory

Amidst all the media coverage of Tony Liberatore’s claims about Carlton ‘tanking’, it’s surprising that no-one in the media seems to have quoted from our own expert on this, Melbourne University Professor Jeff Borland. Here’s his summary, from a 2006 … Continue reading

Posted in Sport | 8 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

Is Obama Still for Merit Pay?

There’s a piece in the New Republic attempting to work out Obama’s views on education reform, and particularly whether he’s still for merit pay. It’s an important topic, but I find it a smidgin frustrating that the author spends so … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education, US Politics | 1 Comment

Some Negative Thoughts on Tax Reform

I gave a short talk today to a CEDA Tax Policy Directions Forum in Canberra. My title was “Yet Another Economist Advocating Negative Income Taxes”. My slides are here. (In discussion, I also mentioned that I couldn’t see any economic … Continue reading

Posted in Low Wage Work, Tax | 8 Comments

The Hamiltonian Solution

On the topic of payments to encourage Indigenous children to stay in school, I received a fascinating email from Chris Cullinan, which he’s kindly allowed me to reprint. Greetings Andrew, Saw an article in the Melbourne Age which highlighted your belief … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education, Indigenous Policy | Comments Off on The Hamiltonian Solution

Malaysian Election Roundup II

In a delightful coincidence, my father also appears on the opinion pages today, writing about the Malaysian election in the Age. The full text of his oped is over the fold.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Healthy and Wise

My AFR oped today argues that governments should make more information publicly available on how hospitals (and perhaps doctors) perform. Full text over the fold.

Posted in Health economics | 8 Comments

WP 2.3.3

I’ve now finished upgrading to the latest version of WordPress, an exercise that always seems to take longer than expected. If anything looks askew, please let me know. Hopefully the only thing you should notice is a new tool making … Continue reading

Posted in Blogging | 3 Comments

Getting better all the time?

In today’s SMH, senior education bureaucrat (and Sydney University adjunct professor) Paul Brock critiques my study with Chris Ryan. Here’s his oped, and here’s a news story reporting on it. There are a few errors (a. I’m described as the sole author … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education | 10 Comments

Malaysian Election Roundup

My father, Michael Leigh, is a political scientist who specialises in Malaysian politics. He’s there at present, and emails the following commentary (note to opinion editors: feel free to get in touch via me if you’re interested in an op-ed … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Cash or culture?

Farrah Tomazin has an interesting piece in today’s Age on strategies to improve the performance of Indigenous children in Victorian schools, identifying a divide between those who say ‘change the school culture’ and those who say ‘spend more money’.

Posted in Indigenous Policy | 8 Comments