by Tyler Cowen
on August 11, 2010 at 11:41 am
1. Blog by my colleague Philip Auerswald.
2. Bring back architectural stationery!
3. List of animals named after celebrities.
4. State policy debates in California.
5. Updated statement by Reinhart and Rogoff.
6. What is a useful screening test?
7. Is the world becoming more addictive?
8. Homicide fact of the day.
8. I’m not sure this conclusion is correct. My alternative would be that substance abuse and violence are common to certain groups. In other words, I’m not sure if substance abuse is a causation or a correlation of homicide. Being high probably makes it easier to commit the act of murder, but I question if reducing drug and alcohol use would lower the murder rate that much.
Reinhart and Rogoff figure 4 illustrates a principle that I recently deduced: conservatives believe conservative fiscal policy for public and private is “you can never have too much debt.” Or back up Cheney’s claim “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.”
8. The policy suggestion does not follow from the research. To conclude that “One of the major societal benefits that can be derived from active attempts to reduce alcohol and other drug use are reductions in homicide rates” researchers should have studied “attempts to reduce alcohol and other drug use” in the “all other things being equal” settings.
Tyler, after reading your link # 4, I must say that finally you have made the Journolist. Congratulations! Welcome to the “Besa Culos” Club, holding company of Journolist.
By the way, 90%+ of animals named after celebrities are bugs.
8. Homicide rates started falling in 1992, but hard drug and alcohol use (at least among young people, who are in their prime killing years) only fell during the mid-late ’90s and after.
So drug use doesn’t cause crime. There’s some more basic disposition to behave wildly and dangerously, causing both criminal behavior and drug use. When this disposition falls in the population, the more dangerous behaviors are more responsive and fall earlier than the not quite as dangerous ones. That’s why violence and promiscuity fall before drug and alcohol use.
On homicide and drugs (8):
It’s true that correlation does not imply causation, but too many people take this assertion too far. I’ll agree that the study does not prove that more drug-use leads to more homicides, but nevertheless I think it’s still pretty likely to be true.
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