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Maybe America is simply too big | Eli Dourado
The classic economics paper on optimal country size is by Alesina and Spolare (1997). They advance a number of theoretical claims in the paper, but in my view the most important ones are on the relationship between political and economic integration.

Suppose that the world is full of trade barriers. Tariffs are high, and maybe also it’s just plain expensive to get goods across the ocean, so there’s not a lot of international competition. In this situation, there is a huge advantage to political integration: it buys you economic integration.

In a world of trade barriers, a giant internal free trade area is one of the most valuable public goods that a government can provide. Because many industries feature economies of scale, it’s better to live in a big market. If the only way to get a big market is to live in a big country, then megastates have a huge advantage over microstates.

On the other hand, if economic integration prevails regardless of political integration—say, tariffs are low and shipping is cheap—then political integration doesn’t buy you much. Many of the other public goods that governments provide—law and order, social insurance, etc.—don’t really benefit from large populations beyond a certain point. If you scale from a million people to 100 million people, you aren’t really better off.

As a result, if economic integration prevails, the optimal country size is small, maybe even a city-state.
econotariat  wonkish  2016-election  trump  contrarianism  politics  polisci  usa  scale  measure  convexity-curvature  government  exit-voice  polis  social-choice  diversity  putnam-like  cohesion  trade  nationalism-globalism  economics  alesina  american-nations 
8 days ago by nhaliday
Reasoning From First Principles: The Dumbest Thing Smart People Do
Most middle-class Americans at least act as if:
- Exactly four years of higher education is precisely the right level of training for the overwhelming majority of good careers.
- You should spend most of your waking hours most days of the week for the previous twelve+ years preparing for those four years. In your free time, be sure to do the kinds of things guidance counselors think are impressive; we as a society know that these people are the best arbiters of arete.
- Forty hours per week is exactly how long it takes to be reasonably successful in most jobs.
- On the margin, the cost of paying for money management exceeds the cost of adverse selection from not paying for it.
- You will definitely learn important information about someone’s spousal qualifications in years two through five of dating them.
-Human beings need about 50% more square feet per capita than they did a generation or two ago, and you should probably buy rather than rent it.
- Books are very boring, but TV is interesting.

All of these sound kind of dumb when you write them out. Even if they’re arguably true, you’d expect a good argument. You can be a low-risk contrarian by just picking a handful of these, articulating an alternative — either a way to get 80% of the benefit at 20% of the cost, or a way to pay a higher cost to get massively more benefits — and then living it.[1]
techtariat  econotariat  unaffiliated  wonkish  org:med  thinking  skeleton  being-right  paying-rent  rationality  pareto  cost-benefit  arbitrage  spock  epistemic  contrarianism  finance  personal-finance  investing  stories  metameta  advice  metabuch  strategy  education  higher-ed  labor  sex  housing  tv  meta:reading  axioms  truth  worse-is-better/the-right-thing 
20 days ago by nhaliday
The returns to speaking a second language
Does speaking a foreign language have an impact on earnings? The authors use a variety of empirical strategies to address this issue for a representative sample of U.S. college graduates. OLS regressions with a complete set of controls to minimize concerns about omitted variable biases, propensity score methods, and panel data techniques all lead to similar conclusions. The hourly earnings of those who speak a foreign language are more than 2 percent higher than the earnings of those who do not. The authors obtain higher and more imprecise point estimates using state high school graduation and college entry and graduation requirements as instrumental variables.

...

We find that college graduates who speak a second language earn, on average, wages that are 2 percent higher than those who don’t. We include a complete set of controls for general ability using information on grades and college admission tests and reduce the concern that selection drives the results controlling for the academic major chosen by the student. We obtain similar results with simple regression methods if we use nonparametric methods based on the propensity score and if we exploit the temporal variation in the knowledge of a second language. The estimates, thus, are not driven by observable differences in the composition of the pools of bilinguals and monolinguals, by the linear functional form that we impose in OLS regressions, or by constant unobserved heterogeneity. To reduce the concern that omitted variables bias our estimates, we make use of several instrumental variables (IVs). Using high school and college graduation requirements as instruments, we estimate more substantial returns to learning a second language, on the order of 14 to 30 percent. These results have high standard errors, but they suggest that OLS estimates may actually be biased downward.

...

In separate (unreported) regressions, we explore the labor market returns to speaking specific languages. We estimate OLS regressions following the previous specifications but allow the coefficient to vary by language spoken. In our sample, German is the language that obtains the highest rewards in the labor market. The returns to speaking German are 3.8 percent, while they are 2.3 for speaking French and 1.5 for speaking Spanish. In fact, only the returns to speaking German remain statistically significant in this regression. The results indicate that those who speak languages known by a smaller number of people obtain higher rewards in the labor market.14

The Relative Importance of the European Languages: https://ideas.repec.org/p/kud/kuiedp/0623.html
study  economics  labor  cost-benefit  hmm  language  foreign-lang  usa  empirical  evidence-based  education  human-capital  compensation  correlation  endogenous-exogenous  natural-experiment  policy  wonkish  🎩  french  germanic  latin-america  multi  spanish  china  asia  japan 
july 2019 by nhaliday
Foreign-Born Teaching Assistants and the Academic Performance of Undergraduates
The data suggest that foreign-born Teaching Assistants have an adverse impact on the class performance of undergraduate students.
study  economics  education  higher-ed  borjas  migration  labor  cost-benefit  tradeoffs  branches  language  foreign-lang  grad-school  teaching  attaq  wonkish  lol 
july 2019 by nhaliday
The Scholar's Stage: Book Notes—Strategy: A History
https://twitter.com/Scholars_Stage/status/1151681120787816448
https://archive.is/Bp5eu
Freedman's book is something of a shadow history of Western intellectual thought between 1850 and 2010. Marx, Tolstoy, Foucault, game theorists, economists, business law--it is all in there.

Thus the thoughts prompted by this book have surprisingly little to do with war.
Instead I am left with questions about the long-term trajectory of Western thought. Specifically:

*Has America really dominated Western intellectual life in the post 45 world as much as English speakers seem to think it has?
*Has the professionalization/credential-iization of Western intellectual life helped or harmed our ability to understand society?
*Will we ever recover from the 1960s?
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july 2019 by nhaliday
Randomizing Religion: The Impact of Protestant Evangelism on Economic Outcomes
To test the causal impact of religiosity, we conducted a randomized evaluation of an evangelical Protestant Christian values and theology education program that consisted of 15 weekly half-hour sessions. We analyze outcomes for 6,276 ultra-poor Filipino households six months after the program ended. We find _significant increases in religiosity and income_, no significant changes in total labor supply, assets, consumption, food security, or _life satisfaction, and a significant decrease in perceived relative economic status_. Exploratory analysis suggests the program may have improved hygienic practices and increased household discord, and that _the income treatment effect may operate through increasing grit_.

https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/02/randomizing-religion-impact-protestant-evangelism-economic-outcomes.html

Social Cohesion, Religious Beliefs, and the Effect of Protestantism on Suicide: https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/REST_a_00708
In an economic theory of suicide, we model social cohesion of the religious community and religious beliefs about afterlife as two mechanisms by which Protestantism increases suicide propensity. We build a unique micro-regional dataset of 452 Prussian counties in 1816-21 and 1869-71, when religiousness was still pervasive. Exploiting the concentric dispersion of Protestantism around Wittenberg, our instrumental-variable model finds that Protestantism had a substantial positive effect on suicide. Results are corroborated in first-difference models. Tests relating to the two mechanisms based on historical church-attendance data and modern suicide data suggest that the sociological channel plays the more important role.

this is also mentioned in the survey of reformation effects (under "dark" effects)
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february 2018 by nhaliday

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