Monthly Archives: January 2010

Now there’s an idea people should copy

Most of the time, low-cost interventions have barely any impact. So it’s refreshing occasionally to read about small things that make big differences, particularly when the results come from a rigorous randomised trial. From the Dee-Jacob economics of education factory… … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education | Comments Off on Now there’s an idea people should copy

Value-Added NAPLANs?

On the eve of public reporting of NAPLAN tests throughout Australia, Ben Jensen (ex-OECD, now running the education program at the Grattan Institute) has a new report on the topic. His key argument is for value-added scores (which will be … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education | 1 Comment

Let It Rain

I have a new ANU working paper out, titled ‘Precipitation, Profits, and Pile-Ups’.* It arose from an ongoing debate with my wife. She loves it when it rains. I’m normally a bit grumpy about rain. So when she rejoiced about … Continue reading

Posted in Environmental Economics | 2 Comments


I’ve been pushing for several years for a simplified tax filing system, in which the ATO would send all Australians a pre-filled return, with the option of choosing to accept it with a simple phonecall (though if a person wanted … Continue reading

Posted in Tax | 2 Comments

A randomised experiment to test for gender discrimination

Alison Booth and I have a new paper out, in which we test for gender discrimination in hiring by randomly sending fake CVs to apply for jobs in female-dominated occupations (waitstaff, data-entry, customer service, and sales). These occupations are about … Continue reading

Posted in Labour Economics | 8 Comments

Welcome to Qantas – could you please step on the scale?

Today, an anonymous guest post (from someone with an ANU connection) ponders airline pricing. A recent article in the SMH reports that from February 1, Air France and KLM will begin charging obese passengers 75% of the cost of a … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 14 Comments

A Form Guide for Universities

In today’s Oz, Philip Clarke and Nicholas Graves write about the ‘academenomics’ of forms. A snippet: since the internet reduces the cost of collecting information to almost nothing, administrators often collect much more than they need, even if it imposes … Continue reading

Posted in Universities | 2 Comments

ANU Economics Jobs

The new ANU Research School of Economics is now recruiting. Here’s the formal spiel. Applications are invited for research intensive positions, from Lecturer to Professor. In an exciting new development, the Australian National University has announced the establishment of a … Continue reading

Posted in Jobs | Comments Off on ANU Economics Jobs

The Economics of Terrorism

My AFR op-ed today is on the economics of terrorism, discussing a new book by Eli Berman. He’s not the first empirical social scientist to tackle the topic (Robert Pape and Alan Krueger both have extensive treatments of the topic), … Continue reading

Posted in Trade & Development | 2 Comments

People should use as much math as me, and no more

New Yorker writer John Cassidy has posted on his website a 1996 interview with the late Paul Samuelson. My favourite snippet concerns the use of mathematics in economics. I asked Samuelson whether mathematics was now too important in economics. Rather … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | Comments Off on People should use as much math as me, and no more

Supply in Saigon, Heterogeneity in Hanoi, Demand in Danang

My colleagues Brian McCaig and Ha Nguyen are running ANU’s second “Vietnam Economics Workshop”. Their call for papers is over the fold.

Posted in Coming Events, Trade & Development | Comments Off on Supply in Saigon, Heterogeneity in Hanoi, Demand in Danang

How much can economics labs teach us?

As anyone who has read SuperFreakonomics would’ve seen, Steven Levitt (along with and John List) appears to be on a quest to reach into the chest of laboratory experiments and rip out its beating heart. Their latest two papers are … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | Comments Off on How much can economics labs teach us?

Look at the changes, not at the levels (Part II)

I have a new paper out that looks at the causal impact of caring for an elderly or disabled person. A pretty large literature has suggested that carers suffer large penalties in employment, wages and happiness. But the problem with … Continue reading

Posted in Econometrics, Labour Economics | 2 Comments

Do big uni classes hurt students?

I’ve written in the past about the close-to-zero impacts of class size on school students’ performance (at least once classes are below 30). But what about huge university classes? I stumbled today across a new UK study that finds effects, … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education, Universities | 4 Comments

Do school teachers send their children to government schools?

I’ve often wondered whether teachers more or less likely to send their children to private schools, and in surfing through back issues of the Australian Education Researcher, I found at least a partial answer. A 2008 paper by Helen Proctor, … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education | 5 Comments

Crafty Mothers

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Duke University is planning to publish the PhD thesis of S. Ann Dunham, the late mother of President Obama. Titled Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia, it is a study carried … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations, US Politics | Comments Off on Crafty Mothers

The most sobering sentence I’ve read this week

From the NYT: “We’ve got to figure out how to break the cycle of poverty, and the way we’re doing it now isn’t working,” said Hank M. Bounds, the Mississippi commissioner of higher education and, until recently, the state superintendent … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education, Economics of the Family, Inequality | 3 Comments

What Should we Teach Teachers?

A couple of new articles on teacher training: Charter school founders create a new ‘Teacher U’ The ongoing influence of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed in conventional university teacher education curricula A great piece from The Atlantic on Teach … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education | Comments Off on What Should we Teach Teachers?

Names on TT

Today Tonight did a 5-minute story last night on my name discrimination research (with Alison Booth and Elena Varganova). The video should be up on their website for the next day or so.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Why Smart Firms Should Experiment

My AFR op-ed today is on the use of experiments by businesses as a means of improving productivity. Full text over the fold. Joshua Gans and I have been contemplating running a conference on this topic in 2011, so if … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally, Randomisation | 4 Comments

Street Racing, circa 1994

Fifteen years ago, in an earlier incarnation (law student), I wrote a newspaper article and an academic journal article on illegal street racing. Last weekend, while going through old papers at my parents’ home, I came across the transcripts of … Continue reading

Posted in Law | Comments Off on Street Racing, circa 1994

Knowledge vs Power

From the introduction to Malcolm Gladwell’s splendid new book, What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures: The other trick to finding ideas is figuring out the difference between power and knowledge. Of all the people whom you’ll meet in this … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Knowledge vs Power