Friday, April 17, 2015

MaCurdy on the minimum wage

Here in Berkeley, CA, there was a Fight for 15 march this past Wednesday, where the 15 is the minimum wage target of interest. Thomas MaCurdy recently wrote an op-ed summary of his hot-off-the-presses JPE paper (link to a helpful Marginal Revolution page) on the minimum wage.

MaCurdy takes at face value the New Minimum Wage literature of the 1990s that found tiny reductions or even increases in employment following minimum wage increases. Rather, his focus is on producers' price setting responses, and he shows that minimum wage increases are "at best a scattershot approach to raising the income of poor families" because minimum wages raise earnings of many workers in many families across the income spectrum, while they raise the prices of goods purchased more typically by low-income families.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Christie on entitlements

Yesterday, NJ governor Chris Christie delivered this speech on entitlement reform. If you ignore the partisan invectives at the beginning and the end, it's an absolutely remarkable read. This guy or his speechwriters really get it. His means-testing proposals are legitimate solutions, in stark contrast to the completely unrealistic budget plan presented by the GOP's Paul Ryan, which relies heavily on the falsehood of revenue-increasing tax cuts.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hoynes on EITC

Today at Berkeley, Hilary Hoynes spoke about the impacts of the Earned Income Tax Credit on female labor supply. She and a coauthor find increases in working of about 6 percentage points among single mothers after the EITC expansion of the early 1990s, compared to single women without kids. Moms with more kids and thus more tax credits also worked (even) more.

This is a bread-and-butter labor supply issue, great for applied teaching. To paraphrase her words, the substitution effect dominates, and moms who see higher after-tax wages because of the EITC substitute away from leisure and toward working even though their incomes also rose.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

PTSD as moral exile

David Brooks summarizes this view today. With self-reported exposure to combat near an all-time high among the current cohort of war veterans, understanding how PTSD works is vital. The shocking thing is that the WWII cohort reported similarly high rates of exposure, but it was only after Vietnam that medicine started taking a modern approach toward PTSD.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

In praise of immigrants and rails

In today's NY Times, an ode to a Galway great-grandfather, the transcontinental railroad, and Leland Stanford, Sr.  Capital infrastructure projects require workers, and it's hard not to notice the traffic congestion now in the Golden State.  Standard caveats apply; LAX and SFO also employ people.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Immigration and opinion

A fair amount of both has been circulating recently. Yesterday's Room-for-Debate centered on U.S. immigration, spurred by a rather snarky opinion piece in the Atlantic that helpfully cites several immigration economists on either side of the debate. Meanwhile, the AEI president opined about Europe's problems being primarily demographic, mirroring remarks recently made by Pope Francis.

Monday, January 5, 2015

ACA at Harvard

Newsflash: Not all Harvard faculty are economists. Neither are most Americans, so the flap over rising copayments triggered by Obamacare profiled in the Times today offers a look at concerns that may be felt broadly by the public. It's worth noting that Harvard faculty were never meant to be the main beneficiaries of the ACA!