Author Archives: andrewleigh

The purpose of this blog

This blog contains an archive of my blog posts from 2004-2010, written while working as an academic economist at the Australian National University. They have been moved here because I wanted to use the URL as a political site … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The purpose of this blog

Turning Points

I’m fortunate to have been preselected as the ALP candidate for the federal seat of Fraser (AAP report here). I haven’t been discussing the preselection much on this blog, but it’s been the main thing occupying my attention over the … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 29 Comments

France Wins Clark Medal Again

Congratulations to Esther Duflo, French-born development economist extraordinaire and winner of this year’s John Bates Clark medal for the best US economist under 40. If you’ve never heard of Esther, check out her academic website or the Poverty Action Lab … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Of Becker and Mills, Picasso and Friedman

I was interviewed recently for the newsletter of the Economic Sociology Australia society.

Posted in Economics Generally | Comments Off on Of Becker and Mills, Picasso and Friedman

Did the Tampa Stop Beazley Becoming PM?

Writing on InsideStory, Peter Brent argues: But it is not clear that boat people really had much effect on the election result. When the Tampa arrived, the Howard government had already been steadily improving its opinion poll position from the … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 1 Comment

Slow degrees, school vs jail, and cash 4 class

Three new economics papers offer interesting findings on important facets of education policy. Increasing Time to Baccalaureate Degree in the United States by John Bound, Michael Lovenheim, Sarah Turner Time to completion of the baccalaureate degree has increased markedly in … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education | 3 Comments

Talking Sin

My Wryside Economics segment on ABC Radio National’s Life Matters program yesterday was on sin taxes. If you’re curious to catch up on it, you can listen to it here.

Posted in Health economics, Tax | Comments Off on Talking Sin

The Future Beaters

Inspired by the Netflix contest, Nicholas Gruen and Anthony Goldbloom have created Kaggle, a site where would-be predictors go head-to-head to build a model that best forecasts the future. You can read more about it at Club Troppo, and at … Continue reading

Posted in Prediction Markets | 1 Comment

Risky Business

On 22 April, I’m launching a project at the ANU Crawford School titled ‘New Social Policy Approaches for Sharing Risk’. More information here, including a flyer.

Posted in Coming Events | Comments Off on Risky Business

A tired old story

My op-ed today is on the economics of sleep. Full text over the fold.

Posted in Health economics, Labour Economics | 1 Comment

Everyone thinks they’re middle-class

Rob Bray points out to me some interesting data from 1999, in which Peter Saunders (SPRC, UNSW) asked respondents to place themselves in an income decile. Of course, 1/10th of the population falls in each decile, so if people are … Continue reading

Posted in Inequality | 5 Comments

Prediction markets, where art thou?

I’ve been writing for nearly a decade (much of it with Justin Wolfers) about the predictive power of election betting markets. So why is it that now I’m running for ALP preselection in Fraser, none of the election betting websites … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 6 Comments

Top Incomes in Australia, Updated

Some years ago, I published a paper with Tony Atkinson looking at trends in Australian top incomes since 1921. We’ve now updated the results to the 2007-08 tax year (the latest available from the ATO). Here’s the Excel spreadsheet. The … Continue reading

Posted in Inequality | Comments Off on Top Incomes in Australia, Updated

Social Mobility in China

Cathy Gong, Xin Meng and I have a new paper out, looking at intergenerational mobility in urban China. After making a bunch of adjustments to the data, we find a strikingly high intergenerational elasticity (implying a very low level of … Continue reading

Posted in Inequality | 1 Comment

Mexican antipoverty program might work in the US too

Don Arthur alerts me to a new report from MDRC (the organisation that administers many of the US randomised trials) on Opportunity NYC, a conditional cash transfer program in New York city that’s based loosely on the Mexican Progresa/Oportunidades program. … Continue reading

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

What’s the Evidence on Evidence Based Policy?

Last year, the Productivity Commission ran an event on the topic ‘Strengthening Evidence-based Policy in the Australian Federation’, of which I was one of the participants (my contribution was titled: ‘Evidence-based policy: summon the randomistas?’). The PC has now produced … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Economics Generally, Randomisation | 4 Comments


The Sunday Age has a selection of 15 tips to improve your life, including – bizarrely – advice from an economist (#13). What do these dismal scientists think they know about happiness?

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 1 Comment

Sin Tax Error?

My AFR op-ed today is on tobacco and alcohol taxes. Full text over the fold. Some references are hyperlinked, and there’s more detail at the end of the piece.

Posted in Tax | 2 Comments

The link between terrorism and trash collection

I wrote recently about the work that UCSD economist Eli Berman has been doing on the relationship between social service provision and terrorism. His team now has a new website for their research, which Eli tells me will be updated … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of National Security | 1 Comment

Worms, dials and buttons

In yet another insightful post, Scott Steel (aka Possum Comitatus) blogs on the different ‘worm technologies’ used to follow yesterday’s debate. Is anyone sitting on data that contains both a transcript and the worm level? I’d be curious to see … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | Comments Off on Worms, dials and buttons

Of stockmarkets and supermarket queues

My Wryside Economics segment today was on investing in the sharemarket. I discussed Burton Malkiel’s classic A Random Walk Down Wall Street, and the merits of index funds. If you’re not a regular ABC Radio National listener, you can find … Continue reading

Posted in Finance | Comments Off on Of stockmarkets and supermarket queues

Home Computers and Human Capital

Some Romanian evidence on the vexed question of how home computers impact children’s learning. Home Computer Use and the Development of Human Capital (gated stable link, ungated unstable link) Ofer Malamud and Cristian Pop-Eleches This paper uses a regression discontinuity … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education | Comments Off on Home Computers and Human Capital

Turning an eye to the CPI

Update: All ABS submission to the inquiry are now online. For my money, the most enlightening is point 3.2.2 of the Australian Treasury submission. ~~~~~~~~ The ABS are undertaking the first major review of the Consumer Price Index in 13 … Continue reading

Posted in Macroeconomics | Comments Off on Turning an eye to the CPI

Understanding Tax Evasion

As regular blog readers will know, I’m a big fan of randomisation. In the context of tax audits, this is particularly useful. Though politically controversial, random audit experiments like the US TCMP have taught us a lot about who underreports … Continue reading

Posted in Randomisation, Tax | 3 Comments

Does Mum’s Age Matter?

Xiaodong Gong and I have a paper in the latest issue of the Australian Economic Review. Abstract below. Does Maternal Age Affect Children’s Test Scores? Andrew Leigh and Xiaodong Gong We estimate the relationship between maternal age and child outcomes, … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Last Australian Shoe Manufacturers

I had a throwaway line in my op-ed this morning. What will a company tax rise do to prices? While the evidence is thin, theory suggests that companies will be most likely to put up prices on consumers when they … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Who ends up footing the company tax bill?

My AFR op-ed today is on the economic incidence of company taxes. The draft benefited from comments by Nicholas Gruen and an anonymous friend. Full text over the fold.

Posted in Tax | 5 Comments

A Capital Challenge

Watching the attempts of the red-shirts to change the Thai government by bringing Bangkok to a standstill, I was reminded of the observation that Alberto Alesina and Ed Glaeser make in their book Fighting Poverty. In countries where the largest … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Elections | 3 Comments

Leaders as Readers (sequel)

In a slight departure, my ABC Radio National Wryside Economics segment today had almost nothing to do with economics. Instead, I spent the time talking about the piece that Macgregor Duncan and I wrote on reading and political leadership. You … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Books | 1 Comment


Teach for Australia, a new program started this year, is now taking applications for its 2011 cohort. Closing date is 6 April 2010.

Posted in Jobs | 3 Comments