Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Some links, and one question


- David Henderson's review of Mulligan is out. I saw a piece of this earlier. What's nice about Henderson is he takes a lot of care in clearly expressing some honest pluses and minuses. I like that style. I've only done one book review so far (forthcoming), and when a referee got back to me with comments on it one thing he said was "I don't know if the author likes the book or not". I had to strategize how to respond to that, but I ultimately said something like "It's a great book - I note that in the introduction and have strengthened that language. But ultimately there are parts of it that are strong and parts that are weak and they ought to both be highlighted". No book gets published if it doesn't have good parts. By the same token, no author is perfect. So this is the sort of review we ought to expect, right? On Mulligan himself, you all know that I buy the labor-supply effects of welfare programs but that I think Mulligan does a much weaker job criticizing the AD explanation. I have two comments to this effect in the link to David's post above.

- Excellent article by Catherine Rampell on the economics of stay-at-home dads (HT - Kate). This is of personal interest to me because I will be a 75% stay-at-home dad in the fall, and of professional interest to me insofar as it deals with gender economics and labor supply.

- Brad DeLong agrees with me that the University of Rochester has a big problem named Steve Landsburg. I am very glad Brad pulled out the quote where Landsburg just couldn't fathom the difference between getting violently assaulted and getting hit by photons. Thinking back to it is making me sick again, so I'll stop - but not before reminding people about the excellent gender studies program at Rochester and the good gender economics work they've done there this year.

- Evan shares a good article with me on what I would just call the political economy of liberal education. He also highlights this comment which is a good takedown of the skills shortage argument.

- Maria Enchautegui, of the Urban Institute, has a paper out on high skill immigration programs and their impact on the composition of immigrant flows. My report on high skilled immigration will be released two weeks from today - more on that later.


I got in a discussion recently on the impact of homeschooling. It seems like the empirical research on the question is uniformly of very low quality. However, the people interested in this that I was talking to are highly partisan about it and bristle at the idea that the benefits might not far exceed the benefits of public school, or that some kids may not benefit from homeschooling. Some of them bristled at the very idea that I would suggest the existing studies weren't very good. This piques my interest. It's probably a highly variable impact depending on a kid's circumstances and alternatives. The selection bias associated with homeschooling has got to be huge (it's exactly the failure to account for selection bias that plagues existing studies). Does anyone know of a good empirical study on the effect of homeschooling? Or good data?


  1. I don't know of any good studies or good data but I would probably personally worry about socialization. The little buggers need to learn how to interact with others their age, even if they are kind of awful at times :)

  2. Re: Education. Check out the Sudbury Valley School--completely voluntary, non-coercive education (with 40+ years of history). 80% go on to college.

    This video is a great intro:

    1. Sudbury isn't homeschooling, but its philosophy is highly influenced by the late homeschool advocate John Holt. As more homeschoolers move toward homeschool co-ops, I think this model will spread rapidly.

      "Legacy of Trust: Life After the Sudbury Valley School Experience

      Does a person’s attendance at Sudbury Valley have an adverse effect on the options available to that person? The data presented in the study leaves no doubt that the answer is ‘No’; former students enjoy the full range of life choices available to every other group of young people going out into the world. And they enjoy a childhood of freedom, respect, and trust.”


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