nhaliday + counterfactual   55

The Effect of High-Tech Clusters on the Productivity of Top Inventors
I use longitudinal data on top inventors based on the universe of US patents 1971 - 2007 to quantify the productivity advantages of Silicon-Valley style clusters and their implications for the overall production of patents in the US. I relate the number of patents produced by an inventor in a year to the size of the local cluster, defined as a city × research field × year. I first study the experience of Rochester NY, whose high-tech cluster declined due to the demise of its main employer, Kodak. Due to the growth of digital photography, Kodak employment collapsed after 1996, resulting in a 49.2% decline in the size of the Rochester high-tech cluster. I test whether the change in cluster size affected the productivity of inventors outside Kodak and the photography sector. I find that between 1996 and 2007 the productivity of non-Kodak inventors in Rochester declined by 20.6% relative to inventors in other cities, conditional on inventor fixed effects. In the second part of the paper, I turn to estimates based on all the data in the sample. I find that when an inventor moves to a larger cluster she experiences significant increases in the number of patents produced and the number of citations received.


In a counterfactual scenario where the quality of U.S. inventors is held constant but their geographical location is changed so that all cities have the same number of inventors in each field, inventor productivity would increase in small clusters and decline in large clusters. On net, the overall number of patents produced in the US in a year would be 11.07% smaller.

[ed.: I wonder whether the benefits of less concentration (eg, lower cost of living propping up demographics) are actually smaller than the downsides overall.]
study  economics  growth-econ  innovation  roots  branches  sv  tech  econ-productivity  density  urban-rural  winner-take-all  polarization  top-n  pro-rata  distribution  usa  longitudinal  intellectual-property  northeast  natural-experiment  population  endogenous-exogenous  intervention  counterfactual  cost-benefit 
11 weeks ago by nhaliday
King Kong and Cold Fusion: Counterfactual analysis and the History of Technology
How “contingent” is technological history? Relying on models from evolutionary epistemology, I argue for an analogy with Darwinian Biology and thus a much greater degree of contingency than is normally supposed. There are three levels of contingency in technological development. The crucial driving force behind technology is what I call S-knowledge, that is, an understanding of the exploitable regularities of nature (which includes “science” as a subset). The development of techniques depend on the existence of epistemic bases in S. The “inevitability” of technology thus depends crucially on whether we condition it on the existence of the appropriate S-knowledge. Secondly, even if this knowledge emerges, there is nothing automatic about it being transformed into a technique that is, a set of instructions that transforms knowledge into production. Third, even if the techniques are proposed, there is selection which reflects the preferences and biases of an economy and injects another level of indeterminacy and contingency into the technological history of nations.

Moslem conquest of Europe, or a Mongol conquest, or a post-1492 epidemic, or a victory of the counter-reformation would have prevented the Industrial Revolution (Joel Mokyr)
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november 2017 by nhaliday
Can Europe Run Greece? Lessons from U.S. Fiscal Receiverships in Latin America, 1904-31 by Noel Maurer, Leticia Arroyo Abad :: SSRN
In 2012 and again in 2015, the German government proposed sending German administrators to manage Greece’s tax and privatization authorities. The idea was that shared governance would reduce corruption and root out inefficient practices. (In 2017 the Boston Globe proposed a similar arrangement for Haiti.) We test a version of shared governance using eight U.S. interventions between 1904 and 1931, under which American officials took over management of Latin American fiscal institutions. We develop a stylized model in which better monitoring by incorruptible managers does not lead to higher government revenues. Using a new panel of data on fiscal revenues and the volume and terms of trade, we find that revenue fell under receiverships. Our results hold under instrumental variables estimation and with counterfactual specifications using synthetic controls.
study  economics  broad-econ  political-econ  growth-econ  polisci  government  monetary-fiscal  money  europe  the-great-west-whale  germanic  mediterranean  usa  latin-america  conquest-empire  corruption  integrity  n-factor  management  history  mostly-modern  pre-ww2  models  analogy  track-record  endo-exo  counterfactual  cliometrics  micro  endogenous-exogenous 
september 2017 by nhaliday
Social Animal House: The Economic and Academic Consequences of Fraternity Membership by Jack Mara, Lewis Davis, Stephen Schmidt :: SSRN
We exploit changes in the residential and social environment on campus to identify the economic and academic consequences of fraternity membership at a small Northeastern college. Our estimates suggest that these consequences are large, with fraternity membership lowering student GPA by approximately 0.25 points on the traditional four-point scale, but raising future income by approximately 36%, for those students whose decision about membership is affected by changes in the environment. These results suggest that fraternity membership causally produces large gains in social capital, which more than outweigh its negative effects on human capital for potential members. Alcohol-related behavior does not explain much of the effects of fraternity membership on either the human capital or social capital effects. These findings suggest that college administrators face significant trade-offs when crafting policies related to Greek life on campus.

- III. Methodology has details
- it's an instrumental variable method paper

Table 5: Fraternity Membership and Grades

Do High School Sports Build or Reveal Character?: http://ftp.iza.org/dp11110.pdf
We examine the extent to which participation in high school athletics has beneficial effects on future education, labor market, and health outcomes. Due to the absence of plausible instruments in observational data, we use recently developed methods that relate selection on observables with selection on unobservables to estimate bounds on the causal effect of athletics participation. We analyze these effects in the US separately for men and women using three different nationally representative longitudinal data sets that each link high school athletics participation with later-life outcomes. We do not find consistent evidence of individual benefits reported in many previous studies – once we have accounted for selection, high school athletes are no more likely to attend college, earn higher wages, or participate in the labor force. However, we do find that men (but not women) who participated in high school athletics are more likely to exercise regularly as adults. Nevertheless, athletes are no less likely to be obese.

Online Social Network Effects in Labor Markets: Evidence From Facebook's Entry into College Campuses: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3381938
My estimates imply that access to Facebook for 4 years of college causes a 2.7 percentile increase in a cohort's average earnings, relative to the earnings of other individuals born in the same year.

What Clockwork_Prior said. I was a college freshman when facebook first made its appearance and so I know that facebook's entry/exit cannot be treated as a quasi-random with respect to earnings. Facebook began at harvard, then expanded to other ivy league schools + places like stanford/MIT/CMU, before expanding into a larger set of universities.

Presuming the author is using a differences-in-differences research design, the estimates would be biased as they would essentially be calculating averaging earnings difference between Elite schools and non elite schools. If the sample is just restricted to the period where schools were simply elite, the problem still exist because facebook originated at Harvard and this becomes a comparison of Harvard earnings v.s. other schools.
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september 2017 by nhaliday
Free to Leave? A Welfare Analysis of Divorce Regimes - American Economic Association
Calibrating the model to match key moments for the 1940 cohort and conditioning solely on gender, our ex ante welfare analysis finds that women fare better under mutual consent whereas men prefer a unilateral system. Conditioning as well on initial productivity (expected income), we find that the top three quintiles of men and the top two quintiles of women prefer unilateral divorce.

The impact of divorce laws on the equilibrium in the marriage market: http://www.anamreynoso.com/assets/AR_JMP_latest.pdf
Adoption of no-fault divorce -> more assortative mating + more permanent singlehood, especially among educated women

Losers and Winners: The Financial Consequences of Separation and Divorce for Men: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2657417
Contrary to conventional thinking, the majority of partnered men in the United States lose economic status when their unions dissolve. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, this analysis shows that for most men the primary source of economic decline after union dissolution is their inability to fully compensate for the loss of their partner's income. A secondary source of economic decline is an increase in compulsory and voluntary support payments. Welfare state tax and transfer mechanisms have a much smaller overall impact on changes in men's living standards following separation. Although most men experience a decline in living standards following union dissolution, men's outcomes are heterogeneous, and the minority of men who relied on their partners for less than one-fifth of pre-dissolution income typically gain from separation and divorce. The data show a clear trend toward greater economic interdependence in American partnerships, and this trend appears to increase the proportion of men who suffer a reduced standard of living following separation.
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Double world GDP | Open Borders: The Case
Economics and Emigration: Trillion-Dollar Bills on the Sidewalk?: https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jep.25.3.83
The Openness-Equality Trade-Off in Global Redistribution: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2509305
Immigration, Justice, and Prosperity: http://quillette.com/2017/07/29/immigration-justice-prosperity/

Some Countries Are Much Richer Than Others. Is That Unjust?: http://quillette.com/2017/07/23/countries-much-richer-others-unjust/
But we shouldn’t automatically assume that wealth disparities across the world are unjust and that the developed world owes aid as a matter of justice. This is because the best way to make sense of the Great Divergence is that certain economic and political institutions, namely those that facilitated economic growth, arose in some countries and not others. Thus perhaps the benevolent among us should also try to encourage – by example rather than force – the development of such institutions in places where they do not exist.

An Argument Against Open Borders and Liberal Hubris: http://quillette.com/2017/08/27/argument-open-borders-liberal-hubris/
We do not have open borders but we are experiencing unprecedented demographic change. What progressives should remember is that civilisation is not a science laboratory. The consequences of failed experiments endure. That is the main virtue of gradual change; we can test new waters and not leap into their depths.

A Radical Solution to Global Income Inequality: Make the U.S. More Like Qatar: https://newrepublic.com/article/120179/how-reduce-global-income-inequality-open-immigration-policies

Why nation-states are good: https://aeon.co/essays/capitalists-need-the-nation-state-more-than-it-needs-them
The nation-state remains the best foundation for capitalism, and hyper-globalisation risks destroying it
- Dani Rodrik
Given the non-uniqueness of practices and institutions enabling capitalism, it’s not surprising that nation-states also resolve key social trade-offs differently. The world does not agree on how to balance equality against opportunity, economic security against innovation, health and environmental risks against technological innovation, stability against dynamism, economic outcomes against social and cultural values, and many other consequences of institutional choice. Developing nations have different institutional requirements than rich nations. There are, in short, strong arguments against global institutional harmonisation.
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june 2017 by nhaliday
How important was colonial trade for the rise of Europe? | Economic Growth in History
The latter view became the orthodoxy among economists and economic historians after Patrick O’Brien’s 1982 paper, which in one of many of Patrick’s celebrated phrases, claims that “”the periphery vs peripheral” for Europe. He concludes the paper by writing:

“[G]rowth, stagnation, and decay everywhere in Western Europe can be explained mainly by reference to endogenous forces. … for the economic growth of the core, the periphery was peripheral.”

This is the view that remarkable scholars such as N. Crafts, Deirdre McCloskey, or Joel Mokyr repeat today (though Crafts would argue cotton imports would have mattered in a late stage, and my reading of Mokyr is that he has softened his earlier view from the 1980s a little, specifically in the book The Enlightened Economy.) Even recently, Brad deLong has classifyied O’Brien’s 1982 position as “air tight”.

Among economists and economic historians more on the economics side, I would say that O’Brien’s paper was only one of two strong hits against the “Worlds-System” and related schools of thoughts of the 1970s, the other hit being Solow’s earlier conclusion that TFP growth (usually interpreted as technology, though there’s more to it than that) has accounted for economic growth a great deal more than capital accumulation, which is what Hobsbawm and Wallerstein, in their neo-Marxist framework, emphasize.

A friend tonight, on the third world and the first world, and our relationships to the past: "They don't forget, and we don't remember."
imo the European Intifada is being fueled by anti-Europeanism & widely taught ideas like this one discussed - Europe stole its riches

The British Empire was cruel, rapacious and racist. But contrary to what Shashi Tharoor writes in An Era Of Darkness, the fault for India’s miseries lies upon itself.

Indeed, the anti-Tharoor argument is arguably closer to the truth, because the British tended to use the landlord system in places where landlords were already in place, and at times when the British were relatively weak and couldn’t afford to upset tradition. Only after they became confident in their power did the British start to bypass the landlord class and tax the cultivators directly. King’s College London historian Jon Wilson (2016) writes in India Conquered, “Wherever it was implemented, raiyatwar began as a form of military rule.” Thus the system that Tharoor implicitly promotes, and which is associated with higher agricultural productivity today, arose from the very same colonialism that he blames for so many of India’s current woes. History does not always tell the parables that we wish to hear.


India’s share of the world economy was large in the eighteenth century for one simple reason: when the entire world was poor, India had a large share of the world’s population. India’s share fell because with the coming of the Industrial Revolution, Europe and North America saw increases of income per capita to levels never before seen in all of human history. This unprecedented growth cannot be explained by Britain’s depredations against India. Britain was not importing steam engines from India.

The big story of the Great Divergence is not that India got poorer, but that other countries got much richer. Even at the peak of Mughal wealth in 1600, the best estimates of economic historians suggest that GDP per capita was 61% higher in Great Britain. By 1750–before the battle of Plassey and the British takeover–GDP per capita in Great Britain was more than twice what it was in India (Broadberry, Custodis, and Gupta 2015). The Great Divergence has long roots.

Tharoor seems blinded by the glittering jewels of the Maharajas and the Mughals. He writes with evident satisfaction that when in 1615 the first British ambassador presented himself to the court of Emperor Jehangir in Agra, “the Englishman was a supplicant at the feet of the world’s mightiest and most opulent monarch.” True; but the Emperor’s opulence was produced on the backs of millions of poor subjects. Writing at the same time and place, the Dutch merchant Francisco Pelsaert (1626) contrasted the “great superfluity and absolute power” of the rich with “the utter subjection and poverty of the common people–poverty so great and miserable that the life of the people can be depicted…only as the home of stark want and the dwelling-place of bitter woe.” Indian rulers were rich because the empire was large and inequality was extreme.

In pre-colonial India the rulers, both Mughal and Maratha, extracted _anywhere from one-third to one half of all gross agricultural output_ and most of what was extracted was spent on opulence and the armed forces, not on improving agricultural productivity (Raychaudhuri 1982).


The British were awful rulers but the history of India is a long story of awful rulers (just as it is for most countries). Indeed, by Maddison’s (2007) calculations _the British extracted less from the Indian economy than did the Mughal Dynasty_. The Mughals built their palaces in India while the British built most of their palaces in Britain, but that was little comfort to the Indian peasant who paid for both. The Kohinoor diamond that graces the cover of Inglorious Empire is a telling symbol. Yes, it was stolen by the British (who stole it from the Sikhs who stole it from the Afghanis who stole it from the Mughals who stole it from one of the kings of South India). But how many Indians would have been better off if this bauble had stayed in India? Perhaps one reason why more Indians didn’t take up arms against the British was that for most of them, British rule was a case of meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

more for effect on colonies: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:4b0128372fe9

INDIA AND THE GREAT DIVERGENCE: AN ANGLO-INDIAN COMPARISON OF GDP PER CAPITA, 1600-1871: http://eh.net/eha/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Guptaetal.pdf
This paper provides estimates of Indian GDP constructed from the output side for the pre-1871 period, and combines them with population estimates to track changes in living standards. Indian per capita GDP declined steadily during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries before stabilising during the nineteenth century. As British living standards increased from the mid-seventeenth century, India fell increasingly behind. Whereas in 1600, Indian per capita GDP was over 60 per cent of the British level, by 1871 it had fallen to less than 15 per cent. As well as placing the origins of the Great Divergence firmly in the early modern period, the estimates suggest a relatively prosperous India at the height of the Mughal Empire, with living standards well above bare bones subsistence.

but some of the Asian wage data (especialy India) have laughably small samples (see Broadberry & Gupta)

How profitable was colonialism for various European powers?: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/p1q1q/how_profitable_was_colonialism_for_various/

How did Britain benefit from colonising India? What did colonial powers gain except for a sense of power?: https://www.quora.com/How-did-Britain-benefit-from-colonising-India-What-did-colonial-powers-gain-except-for-a-sense-of-power
The EIC period was mostly profitable, though it had recurring problems with its finances. The initial voyages from Surat in 1600s were hugely successful and brought profits as high as 200%. However, the competition from the Dutch East India Company started to drive down prices, at least for spices. Investing in EIC wasn’t always a sure shot way to gains - British investors who contributed to the second East India joint stock of 1.6 million pounds between 1617 and 1632 ended up losing money.


An alternate view is that the revenues of EIC were very small compared to the GDP of Britain, and hardly made an impact to the overall economy. For instance, the EIC Revenue in 1800 was 7.8m pounds while the British GDP in the same period was 343m pounds, and hence EIC revenue was only 2% of the overall GDP. (I got these figures from an individual blog and haven’t verified them).


The British Crown period - The territory of British India Provinces had expanded greatly and therefore the tax revenues had grown in proportion. The efficient taxation system paid its own administrative expenses as well as the cost of the large British Indian Army. British salaries were lucrative - the Viceroy received £25,000 a year, and Governors £10,000 for instance besides the lavish amenities in the form of subsidized housing, utilities, rest houses, etc.


Indian eminent intellectual, Dadabhai Naoroji wrote how the British systematically ensured the draining of Indian economy of its wealth and his theory is famously known as ‘Drain of Wealth’ theory. In his book 'Poverty' he estimated a 200–300 million pounds loss of revenue to Britain that is not returned.

At the same time, a fair bit of money did go back into India itself to support further colonial infrastructure. Note the explosion of infrastructure (Railway lines, 100+ Cantonment towns, 60+ Hill stations, Courthouses, Universities, Colleges, Irrigation Canals, Imperial capital of New Delhi) from 1857 onward till 1930s. Of course, these infrastructure projects were not due to any altruistic motive of the British. They were intended to make their India empire more secure, comfortable, efficient, and to display their grandeur. Huge sums of money were spent in the 3 Delhi Durbars conducted in this period.

So how profitable was the British Crown period? Probably not much. Instead bureaucracy, prestige, grandeur, comfort reigned supreme for the 70,000 odd British people in India.


There was a realization in Britain that colonies were not particularly economically beneficial to the home economy. … [more]
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Rheumatoid Arthritis | West Hunter
It causes characteristic changes in the bones.  Key point:  it is vanishingly rare in Old World skeletons before the 17th century.  Those changes, however, been seen in some pre-Columbian Amerindian skeletons [work by Bruce Rothschild].

The obvious explanation is that RA is caused by some pathogen that originated in the Americas and later spread to the rest of the world.  Like the French disease.

Everybody knows that the Amerindians were devastated by new infectious diseases after Columbus discovered America and made it stick. Smallpox, falciparum malaria, yellow fever, bubonic plague, cholera, measles, whooping cough, etc : by some estimates, the Amerindian population dropped by about 90%, worse than the Black Plague, which only killed off half of Europe. Naturally, you wonder what ailments the Americas exported to the rest of the world.

We know of two for sure. First, syphilis: the first known epidemic was in 1495, in Naples, during a French invasion. By 1520 it had reached Africa and China.

From the timing of the first epidemic, and the apparent newness of the disease, many have suspected that it was an import from the New World. Some, like Bartolome de las Casas, had direct knowledge: Las Casas was in Seville in 1493, his father and uncle sailed with Columbus on the second voyage, and he himself traveled to the New World in 1502, where he spent most of the rest of his life working with the Amerindians. Ruiz Diaz de Isla, a Spanish physician, reported treating some of Columbus’s crew for syphilis, and that he had observed its rapid spread in Barcelona.

I have seen someone object to this scenario, on the grounds that the two years after Columbus’s return surely couldn’t have been long enough to generate a major outbreak. I think maybe that guy doesn’t get out much. It has always looked plausible, considering paleopathological evidence (bone changes) and the timing of the first epidemic. Recent analysis shows that some American strains of pinta (a treponemal skin disease) are genetically closest to the venereal strains. I’d say the Colombian theory is pretty well established, at this point.

Interestingly, before the genetic evidence, this was one of the longest-running disputes among historians. As far as I can tell, part of the problem was (and is) that many in the social sciences routinely apply Ockham’s razor in reverse. Simple explanations are bad, even when they fit all the facts. You see this in medicine, too.


There are two other diseases that are suspected of originating in the Americas. The first is typhus, gaol fever, caused by a Rickettsial organism and usually spread by lice. Sometimes it recurs after many years, in a mild form called Brill’s disease, rather like chickenpox and shingles. This means that typhus is always waiting in the wings: if the world gets sufficiently messed up, it will reappear.

Typhus shows up most often in war, usually in cool countries. There is a claim that there was a clear epidemic in Granada in 1489, which would definitely predate Columbus, but descriptions of disease symptoms by premodern physicians are amazingly unreliable. The first really reliable description seems to have been by Fracastoro, in 1546 (according to Hans Zinsser in Rats, Lice, and History). The key hint is the existence of a very closely related organism in American flying squirrels.

Thinking about it, I have the impression that the legions of the Roman Republic didn’t have high casualties due to infectious disease, while that was the dominant cause of death in more recent European armies, up until the 20tth century. If smallpox, measles, syphilis, bubonic plague, perhaps typhus, simply hadn’t arrived yet, this makes sense. Falciparum malaria wasn’t much of a factor in northern Italy until Imperial times…

The second possibly American disease is rheumatoid arthritis. We don’t even know that it has an infectious cause – but we do know that it causes characteristic skeletal changes, and that no clear-cut pre-Columbian rheumatoid skeletons are known from the Old World, while a number have been found in the lower South. To me, this makes some infectious cause seem likely: it would very much be worth following this up with the latest molecular genetic methods.

American crops like maize and potatoes more than canceled the demographic impact of syphilis and typhus. But although the Old World produced more dangerous pathogens than the Americas, due to size, longer time depth of agriculture, and more domesticated animals, luck played a role, too. Something as virulent as smallpox or falciparum malaria could have existed in the Americas, and if it had, Europe would have been devastated.

Malaria came from Africa, probably. There are old primate versions. Smallpox, dunno: I have heard people suggest viral infections of cows and monkeys as ancestral. Measles is derived from rinderpest, probably less than two thousand years ago.

Falciparum malaria has been around for a while, but wasn’t found near Rome during the Republic. It seems to have gradually moved north in Italy during classical times, maybe because the range of the key mosquito species was increasing. By early medieval times it was a big problem around Rome.

Smallpox probably did not exist in classical Greece: there is no clear description in the literature of the time. It may have arrived in the Greco-Roman world in 165 AD, as the Antonine plague.

The Pathogenesis of Rheumatoid Arthritis: http://sci-hub.tw/http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1004965

In the Age of Discovery, Europeans were playing with fire. Every voyage of exploration risked bring back some new plague. From the New World, syphilis, probably typhus and rheumatoid arthritis. From India, cholera. HIV, recently, from Africa. Comparably important new pests attacking important crops and domesticated animals also arrived, such as grape phylloxera (which wiped out most of the vineyards of Europe) and potato blight ( an oomycete or ‘water mold’, from central Mexico).

If one of those plagues had been as potent as smallpox or falciparum malaria, you probably wouldn’t be reading this.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
The Hand that Rocks the Cradle | Rachel Lu | First Things
Factoring out the differentials in fertility, the sociologists estimated that without them, the American public would be more pro-choice by about 5 percent. That doesn’t fully account for the actual shift in attitudes. But it does suggest that fertility differentials have a real impact on public opinion.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
The Future of the Global Muslim Population | Pew Research Center

Europe’s Growing Muslim Population: http://www.pewforum.org/2017/11/29/europes-growing-muslim-population/

Pew has a nice new report up, Europe’s Growing Muslim Population. Though it is important to read the whole thing, including the methods.

I laugh when people take projections of the year 2100 seriously. That’s because we don’t have a good sense of what might occur over 70+ years (read social and demographic projections from the 1940s and you’ll understand what I mean). Thirty years though is different. In the year 2050 children born today, such as my youngest son, will be entering the peak of their powers.

[cf.: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2012/12/population-projects-50-years-into-the-future-fantasy/]


The problem with this is that there is a wide range of religious commitment and identification across Europe’s Muslim communities. On the whole, they are more religiously observant than non-Muslims in their nations of residence, but, for example, British Muslims are consistently more religious than French Muslims on surveys (or express views constant with greater religious conservatism).

People in Western countries are violent (yes) 29 52 34
lmao that's just ridiculous from the UK

In short, read the poll closely, this isn’t an black & white community. It seems clear that some people simultaneously support Western society on principle while leaning toward separatism, while a subset, perhaps as large as 10%, are violently and radically hostile to the surrounding society.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Educational Romanticism & Economic Development | pseudoerasmus


Did Nations that Boosted Education Grow Faster?: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2012/10/did_nations_tha.html
On average, no relationship. The trendline points down slightly, but for the time being let's just call it a draw. It's a well-known fact that countries that started the 1960's with high education levels grew faster (example), but this graph is about something different. This graph shows that countries that increased their education levels did not grow faster.

Where has all the education gone?: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=




The Case Against Education: What's Taking So Long, Bryan Caplan: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2015/03/the_case_agains_9.html

The World Might Be Better Off Without College for Everyone: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/01/whats-college-good-for/546590/
Students don't seem to be getting much out of higher education.
- Bryan Caplan

College: Capital or Signal?: http://www.economicmanblog.com/2017/02/25/college-capital-or-signal/
After his review of the literature, Caplan concludes that roughly 80% of the earnings effect from college comes from signalling, with only 20% the result of skill building. Put this together with his earlier observations about the private returns to college education, along with its exploding cost, and Caplan thinks that the social returns are negative. The policy implications of this will come as very bitter medicine for friends of Bernie Sanders.

Doubting the Null Hypothesis: http://www.arnoldkling.com/blog/doubting-the-null-hypothesis/

Is higher education/college in the US more about skill-building or about signaling?: https://www.quora.com/Is-higher-education-college-in-the-US-more-about-skill-building-or-about-signaling
ballpark: 50% signaling, 30% selection, 20% addition to human capital
more signaling in art history, more human capital in engineering, more selection in philosophy

Econ Duel! Is Education Signaling or Skill Building?: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2016/03/econ-duel-is-education-signaling-or-skill-building.html
Marginal Revolution University has a brand new feature, Econ Duel! Our first Econ Duel features Tyler and me debating the question, Is education more about signaling or skill building?

Against Tulip Subsidies: https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/06/06/against-tulip-subsidies/




Most American public school kids are low-income; about half are non-white; most are fairly low skilled academically. For most American kids, the majority of the waking hours they spend not engaged with electronic media are at school; the majority of their in-person relationships are at school; the most important relationships they have with an adult who is not their parent is with their teacher. For their parents, the most important in-person source of community is also their kids’ school. Young people need adult mirrors, models, mentors, and in an earlier era these might have been provided by extended families, but in our own era this all falls upon schools.

Caplan gestures towards work and earlier labor force participation as alternatives to school for many if not all kids. And I empathize: the years that I would point to as making me who I am were ones where I was working, not studying. But they were years spent working in schools, as a teacher or assistant. If schools did not exist, is there an alternative that we genuinely believe would arise to draw young people into the life of their community?


It is not an accident that the state that spends the least on education is Utah, where the LDS church can take up some of the slack for schools, while next door Wyoming spends almost the most of any state at $16,000 per student. Education is now the one surviving binding principle of the society as a whole, the one black box everyone will agree to, and so while you can press for less subsidization of education by government, and for privatization of costs, as Caplan does, there’s really nothing people can substitute for it. This is partially about signaling, sure, but it’s also because outside of schools and a few religious enclaves our society is but a darkling plain beset by winds.

This doesn’t mean that we should leave Caplan’s critique on the shelf. Much of education is focused on an insane, zero-sum race for finite rewards. Much of schooling does push kids, parents, schools, and school systems towards a solution ad absurdum, where anything less than 100 percent of kids headed to a doctorate and the big coding job in the sky is a sign of failure of everyone concerned.

But let’s approach this with an eye towards the limits of the possible and the reality of diminishing returns.

The real reason the left would support Moander: the usual reason. because he’s an enemy.

I have a problem in thinking about education, since my preferences and personal educational experience are atypical, so I can’t just gut it out. On the other hand, knowing that puts me ahead of a lot of people that seem convinced that all real people, including all Arab cabdrivers, think and feel just as they do.

One important fact, relevant to this review. I don’t like Caplan. I think he doesn’t understand – can’t understand – human nature, and although that sometimes confers a different and interesting perspective, it’s not a royal road to truth. Nor would I want to share a foxhole with him: I don’t trust him. So if I say that I agree with some parts of this book, you should believe me.


Caplan doesn’t talk about possible ways of improving knowledge acquisition and retention. Maybe he thinks that’s impossible, and he may be right, at least within a conventional universe of possibilities. That’s a bit outside of his thesis, anyhow. Me it interests.

He dismisses objections from educational psychologists who claim that studying a subject improves you in subtle ways even after you forget all of it. I too find that hard to believe. On the other hand, it looks to me as if poorly-digested fragments of information picked up in college have some effect on public policy later in life: it is no coincidence that most prominent people in public life (at a given moment) share a lot of the same ideas. People are vaguely remembering the same crap from the same sources, or related sources. It’s correlated crap, which has a much stronger effect than random crap.

These widespread new ideas are usually wrong. They come from somewhere – in part, from higher education. Along this line, Caplan thinks that college has only a weak ideological effect on students. I don’t believe he is correct. In part, this is because most people use a shifting standard: what’s liberal or conservative gets redefined over time. At any given time a population is roughly half left and half right – but the content of those labels changes a lot. There’s a shift.

I put it this way, a while ago: “When you think about it, falsehoods, stupid crap, make the best group identifiers, because anyone might agree with you when you’re obviously right. Signing up to clear nonsense is a better test of group loyalty. A true friend is with you when you’re wrong. Ideally, not just wrong, but barking mad, rolling around in your own vomit wrong.”
You just explained the Credo quia absurdum doctrine. I always wondered if it was nonsense. It is not.
Someone on twitter caught it first – got all the way to “sliding down the razor blade of life”. Which I explained is now called “transitioning”

What Catholics believe: https://theweek.com/articles/781925/what-catholics-believe
We believe all of these things, fantastical as they may sound, and we believe them for what we consider good reasons, well attested by history, consistent with the most exacting standards of logic. We will profess them in this place of wrath and tears until the extraordinary event referenced above, for which men and women have hoped and prayed for nearly 2,000 years, comes to pass.

According to Caplan, employers are looking for conformity, conscientiousness, and intelligence. They use completion of high school, or completion of college as a sign of conformity and conscientiousness. College certainly looks as if it’s mostly signaling, and it’s hugely expensive signaling, in terms of college costs and foregone earnings.

But inserting conformity into the merit function is tricky: things become important signals… because they’re important signals. Otherwise useful actions are contraindicated because they’re “not done”. For example, test scores convey useful information. They could help show that an applicant is smart even though he attended a mediocre school – the same role they play in college admissions. But employers seldom request test scores, and although applicants may provide them, few do. Caplan says ” The word on the street… [more]
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Although marriage is associated with a plethora of adult outcomes, its causal status remains controversial in the absence of experimental evidence. We address this problem by introducing a counterfactual lifecourse approach that applies inverse probability of treatment weighting (IPTW) to yearly longitudinal data on marriage, crime, and shared covariates in a sample of 500 high-risk boys followed prospectively from adolescence to age 32. The data consist of criminal histories and death records for all 500 men plus personal interviews, using a lifehistory calendar, with a stratified subsample of 52 men followed to age 70. These data are linked to an extensive battery of individual and family background measures gathered from childhood to age 17—before entry into marriage. Applying IPTW to multiple specifications that also incorporate extensive time-varying covariates in adulthood, being married is associated with an average reduction of approximately 35 percent in the odds of crime compared to nonmarried states for the same man. These results are robust, supporting the inference that states of marriage causally inhibit crime over the life course.

Does marriage inhibit antisocial behavior?: An examination of selection vs causation via a longitudinal twin design: https://sci-hub.tw/10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.159
Mean differences in antisocial behavior across marital status at age 29 years were present even at 17 and 20 years of age, suggesting a selection process. However, the within-pair effect of marriage was significant for MZ twins, such that the married twin engaged in less antisocial behavior following marriage than his unmarried co-twin. Results were equivalent to those in dizygotic twins and persisted when controlling for prior antisocial behavior.

Our findings are generally consistent with prior literature. Previous studies1-4 within the field of criminology have pointed to a causal effect of marriage on desistence from AAB. Perhaps the strongest such study found that the average reduction in crime with entry into marriage was approximately 35%.2 Our own results were very consistent with these findings. At 29 years of age, the Cohen’s d effect size for differences in AAB by marital status was 0.48, which corresponds to slightly more than a 30% reduction in AAB with marriage.

Figure 2. Adult antisocial behavior (AAB) by marital status at 29 years of age.

looks like roughly half the effect is causal
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april 2017 by nhaliday
The End of the Past | Notes On Liberty
The phenomenon coined by Fernand Braudel, the “Betrayal of the Bourgeois,” was particularly powerful in ancient Rome. Great merchants flourished, but “in order to be truly valued, they eventually had to become rentiers, as Cicero affirmed without hesitation: ‘Nay, it even seems to deserve the highest respect, if those who are engaged in it [trade], satiated, or rather , I should say, satisfied with the fortunes they have made, make their way from port to a country estate, as they have often made it from the sea into port. But of all the occupations by which gain is secured, none is better than agriculture, none more delightful, none more becoming to a freeman’” (Schiavone, 2000, 103).

Such a cultural argument fits perfectly with Deirdre McCloskey’s claim in her recent trilogy that it was the adoption of bourgeois cultural norms and specifically bourgeois rhetoric that distinguished and caused the rise of north-western Europe after 1650 (here, here, and here).

Could Rome Have Had an Industrial Revolution?: https://medium.com/@MarkKoyama/could-rome-have-had-an-industrial-revolution-4126717370a2
This question is prompted by Kingdom of the Wicked, a new book by Helen Dale. Dale forces us to consider Jesus as a religious extremist in a Roman world not unlike our own. The novel throws new light on our own attitudes to terrorism, globalization, torture, and the clash of cultures. It is highly recommended.
Indirectly, however, Dale also addresses the possibility of sustained economic growth in the ancient world. The novel is set in a 1st century Roman empire during the governorship of Pontus Pilate and the reign of Tiberius. But in this alternative history, the Mediterranean world has experienced a series of technical innovations following the survival of Archimedes at the siege of Syracuse, which have led to rapid economic growth. As Dale explains in the book’s excellent afterword (published separately here), if Rome had experienced an industrial revolution, it would likely have differed from the actual one; and she briefly plots a path to Roman industrialization. All of this is highly stimulating and has prompted me to speculate further about whether Rome could have experienced modern economic growth and if Dale’s proposed path towards a Roman Industrial Revolution is plausible.


This assessment is bold but consistent with the recent findings of archaeologists who continue to uncover evidence of dense trading networks and widespread ownership of industrially produced consumption goods across the empire.


From this wealth of evidence, we know that the classical world experienced what Jack Goldstone has called a “growth efflorescence”.
But at even the Roman empire at its peak in the reign of Marcus Aurelius does not appear to have been on the verge of modern economic growth. Rome lacked some of the crucial characteristics of Britain on the eve of the Industrial Revolution. There was no culture of invention and discovery, no large population of skilled tinkerers or machine builders, and no evidence of labor scarcity that might have driven the invention of labor-saving inventions.

Could the Ancients Have Had an Industrial Revolution?: http://adlows.com/2017/11/12/ancient-industrial-revolution/
I would suggest that what specifically was missing in the case of Rome was a ratchet. By that, I mean some way to lock in the gains of new inventions. Where both the Dutch and British had many social and commercial mechanisms to spread knowledge of new innovations, Roman technology stayed in use only so long as the state continued to fund it. There was no widely-diffused base of knowledge that was constantly passed on and modified, resilient enough to survive political upheavals.

To put this in perspective, consider how stunningly little of Rome’s engineering knowledge endured the collapse of the empire. Imperial authorities erected aqueducts and amphitheaters, and laced the land with a complex network of roads and bridges. Yet none of these feats of engineering ratcheted; all such knowledge was lost with the fall of Rome.


So for all the astonishing engineering feats of the Romans, they were unlikely to incubate an industrial revolution. Is there anyone in antiquity who could have? Perhaps: those notoriously metaphysical Greeks.


Classical antiquity was a low point of human intelligence: https://evoandproud.blogspot.com/2019/08/classical-antiquity-was-low-point-of.html
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Development and Religious Polarization
Jewish emancipation in nineteenth century Europe produced drastically different responses.  In Germany, a liberal variant known as Reform developed, while ultra-Orthodox Judaism emerged in eastern Europe.  We develop a model of religious organization which explains this polarization.  In developed regions, religious authorities embrace the prospect of cultural integration by relaxing probhibitions and benefitting from greater financial contributions.  In poorer regions, religious authorities adopt a strategy of cultural resistance, enforcing prohibitions to elicit greater contributions of effort.  In regions of intermediate development, religious schisms and cycles occur.  This analytic narrative sheds light on how economic development can lead to cultural change.

Jewish Persecutions and Weather Shocks: 1100-1800: http://www.noeldjohnson.net/noeldjohnson.net/Home_files/EJ%20Version.pdf
hmm: https://twitter.com/GarettJones/status/890653484051120128
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march 2017 by nhaliday
No easy answers: why left-wing economics is not the answer to right-wing populism - Vox
hence why Cato loves mass migration
jfc, by the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORWM0ukT-Xw
"If we broke up the big banks tomorrow would that end racism? Would that end sexism? Would that end discrimination against the LGBT community? Would that make people feel more welcoming to immigrants overnight?"

The End of Liberalism - Samuel Bowles: https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2017/06/19/the-end-liberalism/GLVtC7fExhFPwhOx31fXrN/story.html
The progressive's immigration dilemma: https://www.adamsmith.org/blog/international/the-progressives-immigration-dilemma
Poor people's lives are made enormously better off by moving from poor countries to rich countries. Thanks to remittances, migrants also may have a significant positive impact on their home countries. For any progressive who wants to improve human welfare, facilitating more immigration from poor to rich countries should be an overriding priority.

Not only does a big welfare state reduce the number of immigrants that are politically accepted, a heavily regulated labour market seems to be associated with immigrants having a worse impact on natives. Even policies that seem like they would be good for Britons might still do much more harm than good if they make Britons less willing to accept higher levels of immigration.

This is a serious dilemma for any progressive who wants all humans to live good lives, not just ones of the same race or nationality. It means that these political concerns alone may demand a low regulation, low redistribution state.

fucking traitors

Essential liberal values:
You: My countrymen get to speak, think, commerce, associate freely.
Vox: Here are some new countrymen. Enjoy!
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march 2017 by nhaliday
So you’re thinking of being a traitor | West Hunter
I was just reading something by Freeman Dyson, a review of a biography of Bruno Pontecorvo. He explains that technical spies, like Pontecorvo or Klaus Fuchs or Ted Hall, are unimportant because the Soviet Union had plenty of first-rate scientists already, people like Yuri Khariton and Zeldovich and Sakharov, and would have eventually gotten to the same place anyhow. He thinks that people like Hall only accelerated the Soviet bomb program by two or three years. But tactical spies, people like Aldrich Ames or Kim Philby , who burned fellow agents and got them killed – they’re quite naughty.

So I guess being a atomic spy in the service of the Soviet Union was almost a peccadillo. Right-thinking people certainly want to think that, since so many of them were sympathetic to Uncle Joe (‘ he rolls the executions on his tongue like berries’ ) and his antics. Of course, right-thinking people are always wrong.

Gee, what happened in those two or three years? Anything bad? Anything that wouldn’t have happened if Stalin was Bombless? The Korean War, certainly. Heard of it? Moreover, those technical spies saved the Soviets money as well as time – we explored all the possible approaches to manufacturing fissionables in the Manhattan Project, most of which were expensive failures, but the Soviets didn’t have to. Their resources were limited: this helped. Their first bomb was made from Los Alamos engineering blueprints (thanks, Ted Hall !)

Usually, you have to be careful not to be too hard on public intellectuals, since they’re not very smart and don’t know jack about anything. You really can’t expect anything from them. Dyson, however, is smart – very smart – actually knows some things, and has accomplished a lot. But he’s still utterly full of shit, when it comes to making excuses for ‘his kind of people’.

Let me make a few suggestions for the next crop of foolish scientists considering aiding the next noxious ism. I think there’s a ‘due diligence’ principle – maybe, just maybe, before changing sides, you really need to check if the guys you’re aiding are tyrants and mass murderers, And if they are, that’s a bad thing, not a proof of how serious they are. Check before you defect. Pontecorvo didn’t check: I think he was a a damn fool, worse than stupid. He came to agree: “The simple explanation is this: I was a cretin,’ he said. ‘The fact that I could be so stupid, and many people close to me should have been quite so stupid . . .’ The sentence was left unfinished. Communism, he went on, was ‘like a religion, a revealed religion . . . with myths or rites to explain it. It was the absolute absence of logic.’ ”

I know that means reading something other than Nature or Phys Rev. It might even mean listening to the Lithuanians in the neighborhood bar as they complain about their cousins being shot – but I don’t think that’s asking too much. Parenthetically, why is it that intellectuals feel attracted to monsters like Stalin or Lenin, but hardly ever become agents/disciples of Switzerland or Canada or Uruguay? Nice countries finish last?

Perhaps nothing can really be done: it may be that a high fraction of the psychological types that produce scientific advances are just silly people, without a bit of common sense. Born that way. Maybe we could work hard at making executions more certain, frequent and terrifying: in a better world, Ted Hall would have shit in his pants at the mere thought of committing treason.
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february 2017 by nhaliday
Information Processing: Brexit in the Multiverse: Dominic Cummings on the Vote Leave campaign
some other stuff from same post:
Generally the better educated are more prone to irrational political opinions and political hysteria than the worse educated far from power. Why? In the field of political opinion they are more driven by fashion, a gang mentality, and the desire to pose about moral and political questions all of which exacerbate cognitive biases, encourage groupthink, and reduce accuracy. Those on average incomes are less likely to express political views to send signals; political views are much less important for signalling to one’s immediate in-group when you are on 20k a year. The former tend to see such questions in more general and abstract terms, and are more insulated from immediate worries about money. The latter tend to see such questions in more concrete and specific terms and ask ‘how does this affect me?’. The former live amid the emotional waves that ripple around powerful and tightly linked self-reinforcing networks. These waves rarely permeate the barrier around insiders and touch others.
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january 2017 by nhaliday
Early, Late or Never? When Does Parental Education Impact Child Outcomes? - Dickson - 2016 - The Economic Journal - Wiley Online Library
We estimate the causal effect of parents' education on their children's education and examine the timing of the impact. We identify the causal effect by exploiting the exogenous shift in (parents’) education levels induced by the 1972 minimum school leaving age reform in England. Increasing parental education has a positive causal effect on children's outcomes that is evident in preschool assessments at age 4 and continues to be visible up to and including high-stakes examinations taken at age 16. Children of parents affected by the reform attain results around 0.1 standard deviations higher than those whose parents were not impacted.
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january 2017 by nhaliday
How Would a Billion Immigrants Change the American Polity? | Open Borders: The Case
In short, I think the most wild-eyed predictions of the open borders optimists will come true, and to spare, but I think a lot of the forebodings of the grimmest open border pessimists will also prove more than justified.

All these forecasts are so tentative that I’m embarrassed to write them down at all, but they are necessary to help readers to understand what I mean when I doubt that the American polity can endure and flourish under open borders. It’s not that I’d expect a complete civilizational collapse, or a revolution. On the contrary, I’d expect superficial continuity. But an open-borders America of a billion people would, in substance, be as different a polity from the polity that the United States of America is today, as the Roman Empire of the 2nd century AD was from the Roman Republic of the 3rd century BC. At the end of this post, I’ll write a bit about whether the end of the American polity as we know it should be regretted or welcomed. But first, would billions really migrate under open borders?

- praetorian guard, latifundia
- non-democratic institutions
- total freedom of association, gated communities
- anti-egalitarian

- some history of Britain and US
- interesting, vituperative take on constitutional law:
I’m not so fond of democracy that my loyalty to a regime would depend very greatly on its democratic character, but I am very, very fond of telling the truth, and I can have no respect for, and no loyalty to, judges who, in decreeing gay marriage, pretend that they’re interpreting the Constitution. Modern constitutional law is a lot like the Catholic Church’s theology of indulgences in the 15th and early 16th centuries. It makes very little sense, and every critical thinker more or less feels that it’s a disgraceful travesty, but people are afraid to challenge it as aggressively as reason demands, because it underpins the order of society. Reams and libraries are dedicated to rationalizing it, precisely because it’s rationally indefensible, yet is a crucial currency of power. And yes, I’d like to see modern constitutional law immolated in a kind of Lutheran Reformation, and would gladly pay a high price in chaos to see the dragon slain. Thanks to my low opinion of the US constitutional regime as it currently exists is one reason, I can contemplate with very little distress the immigration of a billion or so people from all over the world, unschooled in the peculiar mythology of early 21st-century American democracy and its ever-more-irrational cult of equality.

cf: http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2009/02/gentle-introduction-to-unqualified.html

the things he doesn't take into account:
- social cohesion/trust, especially for war
- crime/invasion (sort of)
- American South-style stagnation of tech and productivity improvements in face of cheap labor

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december 2016 by nhaliday
Dominican Republic fact of the day - Marginal REVOLUTION
I find that a free trade zone in a province delays the age of first marriage by 1.6 years. Moreover, the probability of early marriage is reduced by 30 percentage points. The results are primarily driven by women that were in school at the time of the opening. The free trade zones increase women’s years of education, especially during secondary school.
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november 2016 by nhaliday
Why Information Grows – Paul Romer
thinking like a physicist:

The key element in thinking like a physicist is being willing to push simultaneously to extreme levels of abstraction and specificity. This sounds paradoxical until you see it in action. Then it seems obvious. Abstraction means that you strip away inessential detail. Specificity means that you take very seriously the things that remain.

Abstraction vs. Radical Specificity: https://paulromer.net/abstraction-vs-radical-specificity/
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september 2016 by nhaliday
Democracy does not cause growth | Brookings Institution
64-page paper
Democracy & Growth: http://www.nber.org/papers/w4909
The favorable effects on growth include maintenance of the rule of law, free markets, small government consumption, and high human capital. Once these kinds of variables and the initial level of real per-capita GDP are held constant, the overall effect of democracy on growth is weakly negative. There is a suggestion of a nonlinear relationship in which democracy enhances growth at low levels of political freedom but depresses growth when a moderate level of freedom has already been attained.

The growth effect of democracy: Is it heterogenous and how can it be estimated∗: http://perseus.iies.su.se/~tpers/papers/cifar_paper_may16_07.pdf
In particular, we find an average negative effect on growth of leaving democracy on the order of −2 percentage points implying effects on income per capita as large as 45 percent over the 1960-2000 panel. Heterogenous characteristics of reforming and non-reforming countries appear to play an important role in driving these results.

Does democracy cause innovation? An empirical test of the popper hypothesis: http://www.sciencedirect.com.sci-hub.cc/science/article/pii/S0048733317300975
The results from the difference-in-differences method show that democracy itself has no direct positive effect on innovation measured with patent counts, patent citations and patent originality.

Benevolent Autocrats: https://williameasterly.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/benevolent-autocrats-easterly-draft.pdf
A large literature attributes this to the higher variance of growth rates under autocracy than under democracy. The literature offers alternative explanations for this stylized fact: (1) leaders don’t matter under democracy, but good and bad leaders under autocracy cause high and low growth, (2) leaders don’t matter under autocracy either, but good and bad autocratic systems cause greater extremes of high and low growth, or (3) democracy does better than autocracy at reducing variance from shocks from outside the political system. This paper details further the stylized facts to test these distinctions. Inconsistent with (1), the variance of growth within the terms of leaders swamps the variance across leaders, and more so under autocracy than under democracy. Country effects under autocracy are also overwhelmed by within-country variance, inconsistent with (2). Explanation (3) fits the stylized facts the best of the three alternatives.

Political Institutions, Size of Government and Redistribution: An empirical investigation: http://www.lse.ac.uk/internationalDevelopment/pdf/WP/WP89.pdf
Results show that the stronger democratic institutions are, the lower is government size and the higher the redistributional capacity of the state. Political competition exercises the strongest and most robust effect on the two variables.

Fits the high-variance theory of autocracies:
More miracles, more disasters. And there's a lot of demand for miracles.

Measuring the ups and downs of governance: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2017/09/22/measuring-the-ups-and-downs-of-governance/
Figure 2: Voice and Accountability and Government Effectiveness, 2016
Georgia, Japan, Rwanda, and Serbia ↑ Gov Effectiveness; Indonesia, Tunisia, Liberia, Serbia, and Nigeria ↑ Voice and Accountability.

The logic of hereditary rule: theory and evidence: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/69615/
Hereditary leadership has been an important feature of the political landscape throughout history. This paper argues that hereditary leadership is like a relational contract which improves policy incentives. We assemble a unique dataset on leaders between 1874 and 2004 in which we classify them as hereditary leaders based on their family history. The core empirical finding is that economic growth is higher in polities with hereditary leaders but only if executive constraints are weak. Moreover, this holds across of a range of specifications. The finding is also mirrored in policy outcomes which affect growth. In addition, we find that hereditary leadership is more likely to come to an end when the growth performance under the incumbent leader is poor.

I noted this when the paper was a working paper, but non-hereditary polities with strong contraints have higher growth rates.
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september 2016 by nhaliday
Achilles and the Tortoise Talk About Floss – spottedtoad
Exactly- people already want their teeth to be clean. People already can afford floss if they want to get it. People already have been told their whole life, more-or-less, that they should floss. To a large degree, if they’re the kind of person who can follow through with flossing, they’re already doing it. So if you go and put up signs around your medical school telling people they can get paid for a study of flossing if they don’t already floss and then you randomly assign them to be told to floss or not, you’re not testing the effect of flossing, you’re testing the effect of being told one more time to floss if you’ve already proved that you don’t like to do it. Maybe it’s not even that good for you personally, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good for most people who are already flossing.
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august 2016 by nhaliday
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Ending Poverty - The Atlantic
The case for colonialism: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01436597.2017.1369037

The Case for Contrarianism: http://quillette.com/2017/10/10/the-case-for-contrarianism/
Another semester, another academic publishing scandal, complete with calls for penitence and punishment. This time the catalyst is “The Case for Colonialism,” a “Viewpoint” editorial in Third World Quarterly. In this essay, Bruce Gilley argued that “it is high time to question [the anti-colonial] orthodoxy. Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found, using realistic measures of those concepts.” Gilley’s article has since been withdrawn due to “serious and credible threats of personal violence” made against the journal’s editor. This obviously troubling development should make us wonder: just what evil would this article have brought about if not withdrawn? The Streisand effect is in full display here. The article – detailed, abstruse, and not always beautifully written – has no doubt been far more widely read than it would have been without the controversy.


What’s worth emulating about a prediction market is that it turns the expression of unpopular beliefs into a low-risk, high-reward enterprise. In the real, social world, it is often very costly to dissent from a dominant view: friendships can be lost and careers ruined. But it is not costly at all to assent to a dominant view; on the contrary, conforming in this way is helpful and often necessary both socially and professionally.

Now, consider the situation of someone who believes, for instance, that the dominant view is just as likely to be false as it is true. Normal incentives push such a person to go along with the dominant view, and they may feel perfectly comfortable about it. But the incentives of a prediction market would push a person in the opposite manner. They would push a person, who believes the dominant view is actually a 50/50 proposition, to invest in the belief which has a higher reward – that is, the less popular viewpoint. The distribution of this market ends up more rational over time simply because the dominant view is not artificially inflated by people playing it safe.

Author of article on “the case for colonialism” withdraws it after death threats and social-media mobbing; academics are mostly silent: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2017/10/12/author-of-article-on-the-case-for-colonialism-withdraws-it-after-death-threats-and-social-media-mobbing-colleagues-are-mostly-silent/
“Credible threats of personal violence” against editor prompt withdrawal of colonialism paper: http://retractionwatch.com/2017/10/09/credible-threats-personal-violence-editor-prompt-withdrawal-colonialism-paper/
How the hate mob tried to silence me: http://standpointmag.co.uk/node/7027/full
- Bruce Gilley

This is where the "Case for Colonialism" paper goes wrong. Western states today couldn't recolonize an anthill. It's Singapore's job
I wouldn't put today's Western states in charge of anything important
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july 2016 by nhaliday
3 reasons the American Revolution was a mistake - Vox
Slavery would've been abolished earlier, American Indians would've faced rampant persecution but not the outright ethnic cleansing Andrew Jackson and other American leaders perpetrated, and America would have a parliamentary system of government that makes policymaking easier and lessens the risk of democratic collapse.

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july 2016 by nhaliday
Compound Interest Is The Least Powerful Force In The Universe | Slate Star Codex
some summary of Gregory Clark's arguments

SLAVERY AND THE INTERGENERATIONAL TRANSMISSION OF HUMAN CAPITAL: http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/refs/Mozilla_Scrapbook/w9227.pdf
Using a variety of different comparisons, (e.g. within versus across regions) I find that it took roughly two generations for the descendants of slaves to "catch up" to the descendants of free black men and women.

The lasting effect of intergenerational wealth transfers: Human capital, family formation, and wealth: http://sci-hub.tw/http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0049089X17302788
Jargon aside, their results show that bequests tend not to benefit people much unless they have high human capital

The Intergenerational Effects of a Large Wealth Shock: White Southerners After the Civil War: https://www.nber.org/papers/w25700
The nullification of slave-based wealth after the US Civil War (1861-65) was one of the largest episodes of wealth compression in history. We document that white southern households with more slave assets lost substantially more wealth by 1870 relative to households with otherwise similar pre-War wealth levels. Yet, the sons of these slaveholders recovered in income and wealth proxies by 1880, in part by shifting into white collar positions and marrying into higher status families. Their pattern of recovery is most consistent with the importance of social networks in facilitating employment opportunities and access to credit.

Shocking Behavior : Random Wealth in Antebellum Georgia and Human Capital Across Generations: https://www.nber.org/papers/w19348
We track descendants of those eligible to win in Georgia's Cherokee Land Lottery of 1832, which had nearly universal participation among adult white males. Winners received close to the median level of wealth - a large financial windfall orthogonal to parents' underlying characteristics that might have also affected their children's human capital. Although winners had slightly more children than non-winners, they did not send them to school more. Sons of winners have no better adult outcomes (wealth, income, literacy) than the sons of non-winners, and winners' grandchildren do not have higher literacy or school attendance than non-winners' grandchildren. This suggests only a limited role for family financial resources in the transmission of human capital across generations and a potentially more important role for other factors that persist through family lines.

Lottery Winners Don't Get Healthier: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2016/06/politically-incorrect-paper-of-the-day-3.html
N.B. the result is not that most lottery winners go bankrupt or that winning money doesn’t help people–the result, as Robin Hanson might say, is that bankruptcy isn’t about money.

Low leverage of wealth on your children’s traits is something that exists in a particular society, with a particular kind of technology. Back in medieval times, a windfall could have kept your kids alive in a famine, and that certainly had a long-term positive effect on their cognitive skills. Dead men take no tests. The most effective medical interventions today are cheap – everyone in Sweden and the US already has them – but there are places where those interventions are not universally available. Some families in Mozambique can afford artemisin, some can’t – this must make a difference.


It is not just wealth that has a small effect on your kid’s potential: playing Mozart doesn’t help either. Other than locking away the ball-peen hammers, it’s hard to think of any known approach that does have much effect – although we don’t know everything, and maybe there are undiscovered effective approaches (other than genetic engineering). For example, iodine supplements have a good effect in areas that are iodine-deficient. We now know (since 2014) that bromine is an essential trace element – maybe people in some parts of the world would benefit from bromine supplementation.

What about the social interventions that people are advocating, like Pre-K ? Since shared family effects (family environment surely matters more than some external social program) are small by adulthood, I think they’re unlikely to have any lasting effect. We might also note that the track record isn’t exactly encouraging. If there was a known and feasible way of boosting academic performance, you’d think that those teachers in Atlanta would have tried it. Sure beats prison.

Maybe there’s an effective approach using fmri and biofeedback – wouldn’t hurt to take a look. But even if it did work, it might simply boost everyone equally, and obviously nobody gives a shit about that.

They can read simple things. Useful things. If you want to talk about higher levels of literacy, or the lack thereof (functional illiteracy), you need to define your terms. And you should act fast, before I define functional illiteracy – which would include anyone who wasn’t reading Anna Karenina in middle school.
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june 2016 by nhaliday
52 Concepts You Missed in School for your Cognitive Toolkit | Peter McIntyres
idk about the actual quality of these but the idea of cataloguing useful mental models/biases is nice

his description of Aumann's agreement theorem seems to be incorrect/miss the point
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january 2016 by nhaliday

bundles : abstractpredictionscithinking

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