Thursday, 14 August 2014

Interesting blog bits

  1. Timothy Taylor on Characteristics of U.S. Minimum Wage Workers
    Set aside for a few heartbeats the vexed question of just how a minimum wage would affect employment, and focus on a more basic set of facts: What are some characteristics of U.S. workers who receive the minimum wage? The statistics here are from a short March 2014 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers, 2013." Of course, the facts about who is receiving the minimum wage also reveal who will be most directly affected by any changes.
  2. Chris Dillow on Economists and the Public
    In a comment here, I propose the creation of a new job, or jobs - professors for the public understanding of economics, analogous to the professorships at Bristol and Oxford which do the same for science.
  3. Ben Jones asks Should Philosophers Avoid Politics?
    In a recent blog post and article, Bas van der Vossen makes a straightforward argument for why political philosophers should stay out of politics: (1) professionals have a prima facie moral duty to make a reasonable effort to avoid activities that predictably make them worse at their tasks (the principle of “responsible professionalism” or RP), (2) the task of political philosophers is to seek the truth about politics, (3) engaging in politics predictably makes us worse at seeking the truth about politics, and (4) therefore political philosophers have a prima facie moral duty to avoid engaging in politics.
  4. Kristian Niemietz argues that Brick shortages come and go. Planning restrictions are the real obstacle to house building
    An unexpected increase in construction (from an extremely low base) has left building materials, especially bricks, in short supply, leading to a sudden surge in prices. Anti-development activists are having a field day, because this turn of events has provided them with a convenient excuse to explain away the negative effects of their obstructionism. A shortage of bricks, not Nimbyism, is causing the housing crisis, or so we are told.
  5. Peter Klein on Making Money from Behavioral Social Science?
    Longtime readers of this blog expect skepticism about behavioral social science. One of my issues is the assumed, but unexplored, assumption that private actors and market institutions cannot deal with behavioral anomalies, and therefore government intervention is necessary to make people act “rationally.”
  6. Tim Worstall argues The NY Times Is Wrong; There Is No Case For High-Speed Rail
    I always find it slightly odd that left liberals are so in love with a 19th century technology such as the railroads. They’re most certainly not in favour of 19th century science nor moral attitudes so what is it about rail that so excites them? But other than that mystification they’ve missed a very important point. There simply is no case for high-speed rail in the US.
  7. Kaoru Hosono and Daisuke Miyakawa on Natural disasters, firm activity, and damage to banks
    Natural disasters affect firm activities both directly and indirectly. One prominent indirect effect is on firms’ transaction partners, in particular – their banks. This column shows how damage to banks affects firm activities, such as capital investment and exports, using as a natural experiment Japan’s 1995 Kobe earthquake. Bank damage has a significant and negative impact on both firm investment and on exports but this effect does not last very long.
  8. Joseph E. Aldy and Seamus J. Smyth on Heterogeneity in the value of life
    Increasing longevity yields large economic benefits. However, public policies do not take into account the heterogeneity in these benefits across the population. This column presents simulated experimental findings about the heterogeneity in the value of statistical life. There is heterogeneity over the life-cycle, as well as prominent ‘black-white’ and ‘female-male’ gaps in the value of life, driven by differences in the labour income across these groups. The findings suggest that one-size-fits-all policies would not correctly reflect the individual willingness to pay to reduce mortality risk.

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