Monthly Archives: June 2008

Bureaucracy Bound

Today, I’m an academic. Tomorrow, I become a public servant. After some generous arm-twisting from the brother of a famous econ-blogger (and no small amount of flexibility from my senior ANU colleagues), I’m taking a six-month secondment to the Australian … Continue reading

Posted in Blogging | 46 Comments

Experiments in the Classroom: Part III

The third classroom experiment returns to an exercise that I posted about on 6 March, at the start of semester. At the end of an introductory quiz, I asked the class: Looking around the classroom, what percentile of the relative … Continue reading

Posted in Economics for Government Course | 6 Comments

Experiments in the Classroom: Part II

As anyone who has wandered the corridors of an economics faculty knows, we are not a profession known for our sartorial splendour. Australia’s top-ranked economist (according to the RePEC database) is Adrian Pagan, who is rarely seen in anything but … Continue reading

Posted in Economics for Government Course | 3 Comments

The Economic Naturalist

For anyone teaching an introductory economics course, I can highly recommend complementing a standard textbook with a few exercises from Robert Frank’s The Economic Naturalist. Frank’s notion of economics is as a set of tools that helps us better understand … Continue reading

Posted in Economics for Government Course | Comments Off on The Economic Naturalist


Much of the latest issue of the Economic Journal is devoted to the contribution that economics can make to early assessments of the quality of wine, a field first popularised by Orley Ashenfelter. Here’s a summary.

Posted in Economics Generally, Food and Drink | 1 Comment

Experiments in the Classroom: Part I

Last semester, I decided to run a few experiments with the students in the introductory economics class I was teaching. The first had to do with the power of chocolate in improving test scores. This theory arose from my mother-in-law, … Continue reading

Posted in Economics for Government Course | 2 Comments


My regular co-author Joshua Gans has written a terrific book called Parentonomics: An Economist Dad’s Parenting Experiences. I read a draft earlier this year, and loved it. He is now putting the first copy on ebay, to raise money for … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of the Family | Comments Off on Parentonomics

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

Housing affordability workshop

For any Canberrans interested in the hot topic of housing prices, we’re running an event on Monday afternoon that may be of interest. Speakers are Brian Howe, Stephen King, and Rob Taunton. Details over the fold.

Posted in Coming Events | 3 Comments

The World's Social Laboratory?

My colleagues at ANU’s Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute are running a series of “Case Studies of Australian Social Policy” seminars. They have an impressive lineup, which I’ve reproduced over the fold.

Posted in Australian Politics, Economics Generally | Comments Off on The World's Social Laboratory?

Keeping you safe, one queue at a time

A paper in the latest issue of the Journal of Law and Economics demonstrates the welfare cost of more stringent security at US airports. The Impact of Post 9/11 Airport Security Measures on the Demand for Air Travel Garrick Blalock, … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally, Travel | 2 Comments

Sharing the Boom

With resource prices rising far faster than expected, my AFR op-ed today discusses the arguments for and against a windfall profits tax on mining companies. Full text over the fold.

Posted in Economics Generally | 24 Comments

Economists' emotions: empirical evidence

According to research by Joshua Gans, I am the happiest of the six Australian econ-bloggers in his survey. What can one do but smile?

Posted in Blogging, Economics Generally | 4 Comments

Development Conference Papers

For anyone who was unable to attend last week’s New Techniques in Development Economics Conference (supported by AusAID), some of the papers are available online. Full program over the fold. Those that are available are hyperlinked; others should show up with … Continue reading

Posted in Trade & Development | Comments Off on Development Conference Papers

Powerpoint bleg

I’m a big fan of the look of LaTeX Beamer presentations, but am reluctant to switch over from Powerpoint (partly because of inevitable switching costs, partly because I hear that Beamer isn’t particularly good at handling graphics). Does anyone know of … Continue reading

Posted in Web/Tech | 4 Comments

Don't worry about my driving, the car has airbags

My friend Macgregor Duncan draws my attention to a WaPo piece by Shankar Vedantamon how people undermine government intervention by changing their behaviour.

Posted in From the Frontiers | 6 Comments


My 16-month old son seems to drift off to sleep equally well regardless of what bedtime story I read to him. So I’ve switched from Winnie-the-Pooh to Les Murray. At risk of breaching copyright, here’s one of tonight’s poems, from … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 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 | Comments Off on Crime Conference

Are Dismal Scientists Happy?

Spurred by this paper (on how happy Brisbanians think Nobel economists are), Joshua Gans is running a survey on perceptions of the happiness of six Australian econ-bloggers. Go here to complete it. I think Gans should also compare his externally-rated measures with self-assessment. For … Continue reading

Posted in Blogging, Economics Generally | 4 Comments

New Techniques in Development Economics

I’m co-organising a conference today and tomorrow on “New Techniques in Development Economics” (program and location details here), including some of my favourite development economists from outside Australia (including but not limited to Chris Blattman, Leigh Linden, Seema Jayachandran, Dean Karlan, and … Continue reading

Posted in Randomisation, Trade & Development | Comments Off on New Techniques in Development Economics

I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out

Another of my favourite sports economics papers – which I didn’t have time to mention in this week’s AFR oped – is this one, on hockey violence. An ambitious economics student could easily replicate it for rugby league, I would’ve … Continue reading

Posted in Sport | 9 Comments

A Randomised Trial of the Job Network?

Don Arthur emails on a topic close to my heart, with a sensible and straightforward proposal that should be extremely appealing to a federal government that has announced its commitment to evidence-based policymaking. I’m a big fan of your op-eds … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Public policy by revolving restaurant

Peter Martin has a lovely column in today’s Canberra Times, using a metaphor that will appeal most to his local audience. Pointing out that the Telstra Tower was rendered unnecessary within a few years of its construction, he asks whether Labor’s … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Web/Tech | Comments Off on Public policy by revolving restaurant

Giving economics a sporting chance

My AFR oped today is on sports economics. Full text over the fold.

Posted in From the Frontiers, Sport | 1 Comment

Gutter politics

A post by Harry Clarke bemoans the fact that policies regulating alcohol often fail to apply simple benefit-cost analysis. This got me thinking about some of the other issues upon which I’d like to see a little more rigorous benefit-cost … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 6 Comments

Market Democrats

Craig Emerson gave a wide-ranging speech to the Sydney Institute on Thursday night, discussing early childhood intervention, trade liberalisation, and innovation. A little unusually for a Labor MP, the speech also contained a robust defence of Adam Smith.

Posted in Australian Politics | 4 Comments

An unexpected effect of expanding maternity leave

My talk last night to the Skeptics was on the economics of education. In it, I mentioned two unexpected drivers of the drop in teacher quality. As I argued in my latest AFR oped: It is rarely recognised, but Australia … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education | 4 Comments

Speaking Skeptically

As a teenager, I was a member of the Australian Skeptics. I always used to love reading their newsletters, replete with scientific take-downs of psychics and other charlatans (since 1980, they have offered a cash prize to anyone who proves they … Continue reading

Posted in Coming Events | 12 Comments

Does a Good Player Make a Good Coach?

According to a new paper by Amanda Goodall, Lawrence Kahn, and Andrew Oswald, the answer is yes. We measure the success of National Basketball Association (NBA) teams between 1996 and 2004, and then attempt to work back to the underlying causes. … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 3 Comments

Skills, Schools and Synapses

Team Heckman has a new paper out (NBER version here, free version here) on early childhood intervention. Much of the ground has been covered by previous Heckman papers, but one new aspect is a 5-point guide to designing what he thinks … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education, Economics of the Family | 1 Comment