Category Archives: Economics Generally

Of Becker and Mills, Picasso and Friedman

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

Posted in Economics Generally

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

Gender and Competition

My AFR op-ed today is on gender and competition, writing up a series of recent research papers. It would’ve been too cumbersome to mention all the authors, but you’ll find the studies hyperlinked if you’d like to read the original … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 2 Comments

Life Matters, and so does suicide bombing

My Wryside economics segment on Life Matters this morning discussed Eli Berman’s work on the economics of terrorism. If you’d like to listen to it, you can find it here.

Posted in Economics Generally

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

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

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

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

Shutting gates after bolted horses

I know security measures are typically designed to catch the last terrorism attempt rather than the next one, but this is ridiculous: Transportation authorities began imposing tighter security measures at airports on Saturday and ordered new restrictions governing the activities … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally, Travel | 1 Comment

Economics and Sociology

I spoke yesterday in a plenary session at The Australian Sociological Association’s annual conference at ANU. The session was on ‘Economics and Sociology’, and I shared the stage with RSSS Director David Marsh and TASA President Michael Gilding (who I … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 5 Comments

Do Happy People Attend Happiness Conferences?

My happiness workshop yesterday certainly raised my life satisfaction – and hopefully that of the attendees as well. If you missed it, the papers of Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers are available on their websites. Paul Frijters’ paper should soon … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 2 Comments

The economics of diversity

Is there a more ecumenical Nobel than the economics prize? First, it goes to a psychologist – now to a political scientist. Shiller may be going to far to call this  “part of the merging of the social sciences”. But … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 1 Comment

Paul Frijters

QUT’s Professor Paul Frijters has received the 2009 Young Economist Award from the Economic Society of Australia. It’s a biennial award, with the first receipient (in 2007) being Joshua Gans. Paul’s award is richly deserved. He works on a vast … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 1 Comment

I’m not sure if he’s an economist, but he does play one on radio

My Wryside Economics talk this morning is on the economics of complexity, with possible references to taxation, mobile phone plans, and jam choice. It should be on at about 9.15am on ABC Radio National. Update: Audio here.

Posted in Coming Events, Economics Generally

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

Permissiveness as Fiscal Stimulus

Jeff Ely and Tyler Cowen think that a useful economic stimulus could be provided to the US economy by repealing prohibitions on trade with Cuba, immigration, drugs, prostitution, gambling and guns. Some of these look like no-brainers (eg. particularly trade … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally, Law | 1 Comment

Wolfers @ Brookings

My friend Justin Wolfers has been appointed a co-editor of the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity. This strikes me as a particularly good fit. Justin’s signature style is an applied economics paper that presents a pastiche of evidence – ranging across … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally

Stigler’s List and Social Capital

I just reviewed an edited collection on social capital for the Economic Record, and kicked off with what I think might be the standard economic response to most books of this type: George Stigler once observed that economists’ objections are … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally, Social Capital

An Evidence Hierarchy for Social Policymakers

The Economic Roundup, Treasury’s in-house journal, has just released its first issue for 2009. Evidence is a bit of a theme for the issue, and among the articles, I have one that discusses the idea of a medical-style ‘evidence hierarchy’ for social policymakers.* … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally, Randomisation | 14 Comments

Oenometrics

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hip to BE square

The Productivity Commission has just posted on its website the proceedings of a 2007 roundtable on behavioural economics. The most provocative piece is by QUT’s Paul Frijters (who mistakenly gets a UQ designation), discussing Eldar Shafir’s opening keynote. Frijters’ discussion (which … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 11 Comments

Belated Budget Broodings

Sitting on the other side of the world, I’ve felt rather removed from budget commentary, though I’ve found much to agree with in Nicholas Gruen’s called for harsher cuts in middle-class welfare (can we means-test the first homeowners’ grant too?), Andrew … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Economics Generally | 14 Comments

What's Middle Australia?

As we draw near to budget time, there has been plenty of talk about what “middle Australia” will get. But where exactly is the middle? To provide a more precise sense, I’ve tabulated the pre-tax annual income distributions for individuals … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Economics Generally | 29 Comments