Monthly Archives: May 2009

A Professor Like Me

A new study provides some useful analysis of the effects of academics’ gender on university outcomes. The authors cleverly take advantage of the fact that the US Air Force Academy randomly assigns students to sections, with little opportunity to switch. … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education, Randomisation | 4 Comments

Randomising in the UK

In 2003, the UK government started a major randomised evaluation of the Employment Retention and Advancement project (ERA), to test the effectiveness of interventions to improve job retention and advancement prospects for low wage workers (background here). Like the US … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized

Was someone short on fact-checkers?

I generally assume that everyone knows how to use Wikipedia, but it seems not. From today’s Age: Reports suggest that in the 19 American presidential elections between 1888 and 1960, the candidate with a height advantage won all but one. … Continue reading

Posted in Media | 4 Comments

The kind of conference you’d naturally select

My academic home is the Economics Program in the Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS). Located in a building named after HC Coombs (an economist turned social campaigner), RSSS is comprised of five programs – philosophy, history, political science, sociology, … Continue reading

Posted in Coming Events

ESOP’s fables

In the context of the feisty share ownership debate, I thought it might be worth posting two 2008 economics papers on the topic. My quick read of the evidence: employee ownership exposes workers to more risk (if the firm goes … Continue reading

Posted in Labour Economics | 3 Comments

Larger Than Life

In general, I have a healthy respect for the news media. But occasionally, things spin  out of control. Somehow, my finding (with Michael Kortt) that there is no wage penalty to being overweight in the Australian labour market got spun … Continue reading

Posted in Media | 1 Comment

Unemployment Betting

Yesterday, I wrote an oped in the AFR arguing that we should have prediction markets on unemployment. This morning comes a press release from Centrebet: Leading financial bookmaker Centrebet has today released the country’s first market on the next national … Continue reading

Posted in Prediction Markets | 1 Comment

Will the right be alright?

For politix junkies, I can highly recommend Andrew Norton’s two posts on whether the Posner thesis of conservatism’s collapse applies in Australia as it does in the US (shorter AN: no).

Posted in Australian Politics | 2 Comments

A Better Crystal Ball

My oped today is on prediction markets. You can’t put acknowledgements on opeds, but if you could, this one would have read “Thanks to Nicholas Gruen and Robin Hanson for valuable comments on an earlier draft.” Not sure what my … Continue reading

Posted in Health economics, Macroeconomics, Prediction Markets | 6 Comments

Tall Story

Michael Kortt and I have a new paper out, looking at the relationship between body size and wages. Here’s the abstract (click on the title for the full paper): Does Size Matter in Australia? Michael Kortt & Leigh We estimate … Continue reading

Posted in Labour Economics | 5 Comments

The Black-White Test Score Gap Downunder

(xposted @ Core) Discussing NT schools, the CIS’s Helen Hughes writes: This week all Australian children in school years 3, 5, 7 and 9 sat numeracy and literacy tests for the second time. The tests are to give Australians an … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

RBA Essay Competition 2009

Adrian Wong has asked me to remind students about the RBA Essay Competition, open to citizens and permanent residents of Australia who are currently enrolled in an undergraduate program at an accredited Australian university. This year’s topic should be a … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Marlboro Man or Winnie Blue?

The new political debate over tobacco taxes has got me wondering: are smokers more likely to vote for parties of the right (because they believe in individual liberty) or parties of the left (because they tend to be poorer than … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Let’s get fiscal

Three months ago, Christine Neill wrote on Core Economics: If you ask a reduced-form applied microeconomist like myself whether more government spending decreases unemployment, we have two initial instincts:(1) do some experimenting with an entire economy (perhaps not completely impossible, … Continue reading

Posted in Macroeconomics | 1 Comment

Tackling depression

If you’re looking for something to do in Canberra at lunchtime on Friday, I have the answer… From ‘Great Depression’ to ‘Global Financial Crisis’? Historical Reflections 1-2.30 pm, Friday 15 May 2009, Theatrette, Old Canberra House Recent downturns in the … Continue reading

Posted in Coming Events | 1 Comment

The cost of social capital

A new working paper on friendships and test scores suggests that they may be substitutes rather than complements. Do More Friends Mean Better Grades?: Student Popularity and Academic Achievement Kata Mihaly Peer interactions have been argued to play a major … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Schools That Transform

David Brooks reports on some surprisingly large impacts from a randomised trial of New York “Harlem Children’s Zone” schools. The effects are so big that I find it hard to imagine they’re readily replicable, but it’s tantalizing stuff. The fight … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education, Inequality | 9 Comments

Does a Good Player Make a Good Coach?

Some new evidence on teacher test scores, this time from Sweden. One Size Fits All? The Effects of Teacher Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Abilities on Student Achievement Erik Grönqvist & Jonas Vlachos Teachers are increasingly being drawn from the lower parts … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education | 7 Comments

They make good coffee-warmers

A neat new randomised trial from Colombia finds that a major computer distribution program had essentially zero impact on test scores. The Use and Misuse of Computers in Education: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Colombia Felipe Barrera-Osorio & Leigh … Continue reading

Posted in Development Economics | 3 Comments

An interesting few weeks

ABC Radio: “ANU Professor […] has urged the government to act decisively on West Papua” Murph: “How many bloody professors have they got at that place?” Tony: “I’ll tell you where we need a violent crackdown…” ~ “A Time for … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

In praise of renters

My opinion piece today is on the downsides of home ownership. Full text over the fold.

Posted in Labour Economics | 4 Comments

A statistical gripe

Statistics are great tools, so long as you don’t lie about them. I just came across a number that seems to have taken hold in international circles, which is the “Share of individuals that cast a ballot during an election, … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Elections | 2 Comments

Flu Betting

Intrade has opened several prediction market on Swine flu in the US. A chart of the current prices appears below (it was 35 at the time of posting, indicating that the market believes there is a 35% chance that more … Continue reading

Posted in Prediction Markets | 5 Comments

Not your typical economist

Bloomberg news has a profile of one of Chile’s finance minister, Andres Velasco. He was my microeconomics lecturer when he taught at Harvard in 2001. A unique guy. Thousands of government workers marched on downtown Santiago last November, burning an … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally