Thursday, February 14, 2013

Assault of thoughts - 2/14/2013

"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking" - JMK

- A new book is out from the Upjohn Institute Press that looks very interesting and that I'd like to get my hands on: "Occupational Labor Shortages : Concepts, Causes, Consequences, and Cures". Burt Barnow is a big name in labor market policy evaluation. He was at Hopkins and recently moved to the Urban Institute and GWU. I had the opportunity to work closely with him on the evaluation of the High Growth Job Training Initiative (he taught me regression discontinuity design, along with a lot of other things). This looks like it uses a lot of the material he had presented at the high skill immigration conference I invited to at Georgetown this past summer. Another co-author, John Trutko, is with Capital Research Corporation but he is a familiar face at the Urban Institute too. The third co-author must have met Burt at Hopkins (she has an MPP from there), but she's actually a PhD student in the policy department at American University. So it looks like a good set of authors on an interesting topic.

- Speaking of new books I want: Gavin Wright on the economics of the Civil Rights movement is, of course, self-recommending.

- A Keynesian worrying about supply (apropos of another discussion in an earlier post).

- Unemployment insurance benefit recipiency. The numbers are pre-recessionary, but they put some context to some outlandish claims about the impact of unemployment insurance (also in that earlier post). Since only about a quarter of the unemployed received it (again, pre-recession -maybe different now but its been on a downward trajectory), its impact on their behavior has to be that much bigger to have a net impact of -2.7% points of unemployment (Barro - truly nutty reasoning that didn't even persuade Arnold Kling), or -1% points (Mullins - more solid reasoning). Something like Rothstein's estimate of a -0.1% to -0.5% supply impact plus a 1.6 total multiplier (as the CBO suggests) seems more plausible. I did all the number crunching for the study linked above, but frustratingly that does not appear to be acknowledged.

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