Data Source

The activities of victims at the time of attack in the Florida cases were distributed as follows: 17.4 percent were related to trying to capture/pick up/exhibit the animal; 16.7 percent involved swimming; 9.9 percent involved fishing; 9.5 percent related to retrieving golf balls; and 5.3 percent involved wading/walking in water.

Here is more information.  Staying away from alligators — and golf — would seem to eliminate most but not all of these attacks.

The combination of mass joblessness, wage cuts, and higher taxes means disposable household incomes have fallen even further. To make up the difference, Greeks have been eating into their savings. In 2006-2009, the personal savings rate averaged about 6 per cent. In 2015, the rate was -6 per cent.

The total amount of dis-saving since mid-2011 implies Greek households have eaten into €19bn worth of savings even as their living standards have cratered. For comparison, the financial accounts published by the Bank of Greece indicate €36bn in household bank deposits and cash, including deposits in non-Greek banks and foreign currency, disappeared over the same period…

Greek households have cut their investment spending even further, from about a fifth of disposable income in 2007 to just 2 per cent in 2015.

…Greece’s capital stock has been shrinking by about 6 to 7 per cent of output since 2012…

In other words, the collapse of Greece is worse than we had thought.  That is from Matthew C. Klein.

The answer seems to be twenty, seventeen for personal finance.  Here is a full report on that topic (pdf).  Most of those states are in the South, plus CA, NY, IN, and MI.  Virginia is often considered the national leader with regard to actual substance and quality.

Here is my previous post on economics education in high school.

The pointer is from Carrie Sheffield, founder of the web site Bold.

Here is from MIT Technology Review, surveying research on chess blunders and cognition by Ashton Anderson at Microsoft Research in New York City, Jon Kleinberg of Cornell, and Sendhil Mullainathan:

…Anderson and co have found evidence of an entirely counterintuitive phenomenon in which skill levels play the opposite role, so that skillful players are more likely to make an error than their lower-ranked counterparts. The team call these “skill anomalous positions.”

That’s an extraordinary discovery which will need some teasing apart in future work. “The existence of skill-anomalous positions is surprising, since there is a no a priori reason to believe that chess as a domain should contain common situations in which stronger players make more errors than weaker players,” say Anderson and co. Just why this happens isn’t clear.

I don’t, by the way, find the concept of skill anomalous positions to be so surprising.  Better chess players have more “chunking” and more intuitions.  Usually that knowledge adds value, but in a variety of counterintuitive positions it can lead players down the wrong paths.  For instance a beginner probably does not know that on average a Queen and Knight working together are more effective than a Queen and Bishop, yet this is not always true and the less tutored intuition will sometimes prove correct.  Similarly, the better player may think that an endgame of Bishops of opposite color is more likely to be drawn, and often that is true.  Yet in other situations those ill-matched Bishops can yield an attacking advantage to the player with the better command of space, and so on.

I believe there are analogous concepts for economics and also philosophy, probably for other disciplines too.  For instance in economics I wonder if a person with less knowledge of open economy macroeconomics might sometimes end up making better forecasts.  Many anti-elitist theories of politics imply these phenomena can be true in a broad range of situations, Brexit for instance according to some.

After education and occupation, the share of people not holding a passport was the next most strongly correlated characteristic with the Leave vote.

Here is more from John Burn-Murdoch at FT blogs, via Tim Harford.

Whose inflation?

by on June 24, 2016 at 12:21 am in Data Source, Economics | Permalink

There is a new and very important paper on this topic by Greg Kaplan and Sam Schulhofer-Wohl (pdf), emanating from the Minneapolis Fed:

We use scanner data to estimate inflation rates at the household level. Households’ inflation rates are remarkably heterogeneous, with an interquartile range between 6.2 to 9.0 percentage points on an annual basis. Most of the heterogeneity comes not from variation in broadly defined consumption bundles but from variation in prices paid for the same types of goods — a source of variation that previous research has not measured. The entire distribution of household inflation rates shifts in parallel with aggregate inflation. Deviations from aggregate inflation exhibit only slightly negative serial correlation within each household over time, implying that the difference between a household’s price level and the aggregate price level is persistent. Together, the large cross-sectional dispersion and low serial correlation of household-level inflation rates mean that almost all of the variability in a household’s inflation rate over time comes from variability in household-level prices relative to average prices for the same goods, not from variability in the aggregate inflation rate. We provide a characterization of the stochastic process for household inflation that can be used to calibrate models of household decisions.

For the pointer I thank David Levey.  One wonders of course what this means for various propositions in macroeconomics, such as the Fisher effect, or the use of monetary stimulus to alter the meaning of a given nominal reservation wage.  This is also of note: “…observable household characteristics have little power overall to predict household inflation rates.”  By the way, note that the data measure recorded prices, and not prices plus search costs, so the bargain hunters are paying higher net prices than these results would indicate, thus narrowing the differences in inflation rates across persons.

Rates of marijuana use among Colorado’s teenagers are essentially unchanged in the years since the state’s voters legalized marijuana in 2012, new survey data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows.

In 2015, 21 percent of Colorado youths had used marijuana in the past 30 days. That rate is slightly lower than the national average and down slightly from the 25 percent who used marijuana in 2009, before legalization. The survey was based on a random sample of 17,000 middle and high school students in Colorado.

That is from Christopher Ingraham at Wonkblog.  Those are surveys, yes, but even the continuing feeling that one needs to lie and say no should count for something.

From a new Economic Journal article by Kim Oosterlinck:

During World War II, artworks significantly outperformed all alternative investments in Occupied France. With the surge in demand for portable and easy-to-hide (discreet) assets such as artworks and collectible stamps, prices boomed. This suggests that discreet assets may be viewed as crypto-currencies, demand for which varies depending on the environment and the need to hide value. Regarding art market valuation, this paper argues that while some economic actors derive significant utility from conspicuous consumption, others value the discretion offered by artworks. Motives for purchasing art may thus vary over time.

The pointer is from Kevin Lewis.  And via Samir Varma, here is a new piece on how the returns to fine art have been overestimated.

Newspaper headlines trumpeted that the middle class is shrinking but to a large extent that is because people are moving into the upper middle class not because they are getting poorer. By one measure, the middle class has shrunk from 38% of the US population in 1980 to 32% today but at the same time the upper middle class has grown from 12% to 30% of the population today.

Josh Zumbrun at the WSJ has an excellent piece on new research from the (liberal-leaning) Urban Institute and elsewhere:

upper middle

There is no standard definition of the upper middle class. Many researchers have defined the group as households or families with incomes in the top 20%, excluding the top 1% or 2%. Mr. Rose, by contrast, uses a more dynamic method similar to how researchers calculate the poverty rate, which allows for growth or shrinkage over time, and adjusts for family size.

Using Census Bureau data available through 2014, he defines the upper middle class as any household earning $100,000 to $350,000 for a family of three: at least double the U.S. median household income and about five times the poverty level. At the same time, they are quite distinct from the richest households. Instead of inheritors of dynastic wealth or the chief executives of large companies, they are likely middle-managers or professionals in business, law or medicine with bachelors and especially advanced degrees.

Smaller households can earn somewhat less to be classified as upper middle-class; larger households need to earn somewhat more.

Mr. Rose adjusts these thresholds for inflation back to 1979 and finds the population earning this much money has never been so large. One could quibble with his exact thresholds or with the adjustment that he uses for inflation. But using different measures of inflation, or using higher income thresholds for the upper-middle class, produces the same result: substantial growth among this group since the 1970s.

William W. Olney has a newly published paper on that topic, and it seems it helps a good deal:

This article investigates whether the global spread of the English language provides an inherent advantage to native English speakers. This question is studied within the context of the economics profession, where the impact of being a native English speaker on future publishing success is examined. English speakers may have an advantage because they are writing in their native language, the quality of writing is a crucial determinant of publishing success, and all the top economics journals are published in English. Using a ranking of the world’s top 2.5% of economists, this article confirms that native English speakers are ranked 100 spots higher (better) than similar non-native English speakers. A variety of extensions examine and dispel many other potential explanations.

“Similar” is a tricky word!  How similar can a Frenchman be?  I am not sure, but it does seem that growing up in the Anglo-American world may — language aside — be more conducive to patterns of thought which predict success in…the Anglo-American world.  Nonetheless this is an interesting investigation, even if I am not entirely convinced.  Note also that economics blogging is predominantly an Anglo-American enterprise, but I view that too as more about “mentality” than language per se.

For the pointer I thank the excellent Kevin Lewis.

Very often they are passed down father to son.  Here is a recent paper by Avdeenko and Siedler:

This study analyzes the importance of parental socialization on the development of children’s far right-wing preferences and attitudes towards immigration. Using longitudinal data from Germany, our intergenerational estimates suggest that the strongest and most important predictor for young people’s right-wing extremism are parents’ right-wing extremist attitudes. While intergenerational associations in attitudes towards immigration are equally high for sons and daughters, we find a positive intergenerational transmission of right-wing extremist party affinity for sons, but not for daughters. Compared to the intergenerational correlation of other party affinities, the high association between fathers’ and sons’ right-wing extremist attitudes is particularly striking.

Here is a sentence from the paper:

Young adults whose parents were very concerned about immigration to German during their childhood years have a 27 percentage point (60 percent) higher likelihood of also expressing strong concerns about immigration as young adults.

This of course should make you less confident of your anti-immigrant views, if indeed you hold them.  Similarly, the intergenerational transmission of particular religious beliefs is also a strong reason not to be very confident in them.  If you get your religious beliefs from your parents and other relatives, through whatever mechanism, rather than from God, well…why are your parents a more reliable source of knowledge about this question than anyone else’s parents?

The Dutch are still consuming about 5 per cent less, on average, than they were almost a decade ago.

Furthermore:

Yet the employment rate for Dutch 25-54-year-olds, a reasonable measure of the economy’s underlying vigour, is still about 5 percentage points below the pre-crisis peak.

Here is a possible surprise in this context:

It has the biggest current account surplus, as a share of output, in the entire euro area, making Germany look almost Anglo-Saxon by comparison.

Much of the remainder of the Matthew C. Klein Alphaville post builds an interesting comparison between the Netherlands and Belgium, recommended.  Part of the problem may be the Dutch housing market and tough bankruptcy law.

…the market cap of four of the largest coal companies was more than $35 billion in 2011. After a flurry of regulation, it’s now a smudge on the graph below, a decline of 99 percent.

That is from Sam Batkins, via Rick Newman and Joanna Bryson 2.

A Washington Post review of federal campus safety data for more than 2,200 colleges that offer bachelor’s or advanced degrees found that more than 1,300 of the schools had no reports of rape on campus in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available.

Here is more from Nick Anderson.

Homicide Data by Weapon

by on June 16, 2016 at 12:06 pm in Data Source, Economics, Law | Permalink

Here is FBI homicide data by weapon for 2014:

HomicidebyWeapon2014

In 2014, 248 people were killed by rifles. Rifles would include “assault weapons”. Thus, more people are killed by knives than by assault weapons. Indeed, more than twice as many people are killed by “hands, fists, feet, etc.” than by assault weapons. (Some of these numbers could change slightly with “Firearms, type not stated” although most of these are probably handguns).

The data may be uncomfortable to both left and the right. The left because banning “rifles” would obviously not save many lives even if one assumed no substitution effect towards other weapons and banning “assault weapons”, however defined, would do even less. The right because handguns are by far the primary weapon used to kill.