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!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Football & war

Post-bellum attitudes toward football as training for warfare are profiled in the Times. The 1905 injury and fatality statistics are eye opening.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Rethinking Bi(g)o 101

Big lectures are the traditional format, but the NY Times profiles some new directions taken with intro courses. Science classes may be a convenient punching bag, but you'd imagine this applies across the spectrum.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Long-term trends in marriage and income

Andrew Cherlin argues marriage inequality and income inequality are related, in the NY Times earlier this month. He's written a cleverly titled book on the topic too.

Phrasing what we see as joint inequalities is accurate and certainly attention grabbing. But underneath could simply be a linear relationship between (expected) earnings and marriage, without a special story about how inequality per se or variance affects outcomes. Maybe Cherlin argues exactly that, and one could imagine how such an argument might proceed: if inequality reflects uncertainty and men or women are risk averse in their marriage choices, then more inequality could reduce marriage, even holding average earnings fixed.

Monday, December 15, 2014

CBO on uncertainty

Here's a nice overview of how CBO addresses uncertainty in its fiscal forecasts, from the director. One of the big challenges with the traditional "high, medium, and low" scenario ranges that appear in CBO and other forecasts is that implicit assumptions about the covariance structure of processes like mortality, fertility, and productivity are extreme and unrealistic.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Men Not At Work

The NYT reports on men who aren't working, and one angle they left out is what prospective wives or partners perceive about the gains to marriage. Much is written about the opportunity costs of working, namely the foregone disability benefits and child care, and the article notes how relatively few men who aren't employed have young kids. AEI scholars have claimed that men's retreat from marriage and fatherhood can explain more than a third of the decline in employment since 1979. An accounting exercise like that is helpful, but it raises the question of why choices have trended the way they have, and I suspect women's choices are important.