Friday, February 7, 2014

Some links

- Ryan Murphy has a new Cato publication calling for cutting restrictions on travel visas.

- Bryan Caplan has a new post up on scale economies in marriages. In the comments of the previous post he linked to I suggested an alternative approach that was more consistent with how economists that study household behavior model utility in the family. This one is a little better I think because it gets away from thinking in terms of utility functions and simply rehashes and explores the exercise that statisticians go through when they set poverty thresholds for different family sizes. (Recall the original post also set off a surprisingly contentious discussion about utility vs. preferences on Bob Murphy's blog - surprising in the sense that there should not have been as much disagreement with Bob and my positions on it as there was.)

- Don Boudreaux shares an interesting research effort by a doctoral student of his on the connection between minimum wages and crime here. I have some comments on how to approach such a study. One interesting thing that came up in the comments was a paper by Beauchamp and Chan (2013) on this subject using the NLSY97 (which I had suggested earlier). There is still a research angle for Don's student here, I think. Beauchamp and Chan seem to use the state-level fixed effects approach. We've talked a lot about the short-comings of that sort of analysis, and why Dube et al.'s contiguous county approach is stronger. Unless something has changed in the last couple years you have to access restricted NLSY97 data to get any geographic information on respondents below the level of Census region, so why stop at states if you've got that data?

- Robert Solow responds to Mankiw on inequality (and then Mankiw responds to him) here. Both make very good points, but I thought Solow's was excellent. I especially liked this: "It may be impractical to separate effort from happenstance numerically, but that is not reason to confound them, especially when you are thinking about taxation and redistribution"

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