Data Source

New data, released by the Centers for Disease Control, show that America’s love for fast food is surprisingly income blind. Well-off kids, poor kids, and all those in between tend to get about the same percentage of their calories from fast food, according to a survey of more than 5,000 people. More precisely, though, it’s the poorest kids that tend to get the smallest share of their daily energy intake from Big Macs, Whoppers, Chicken McNuggets, and french fries.

That is from Robert Ferdman.  By the way:

More than a third of all children and adolescents living in the country still eat some form of fast food on any given day, a number which hasn’t budged in decades, according to the CDC.

And many children are getting alarmingly high proportions of their diet from chicken nuggets and french fries. About a quarter of all kids in the United States get 25 percent of their calories from fast food. And 12 percent of kids get more than 40 percent of their calories from fast food.

Busan — the second largest city in South Korea — would also be the second largest city in Western Europe.

That is from the new and interesting paper by Glaeser, Ponzetto, and Zou (pdf), on mega-cities vs. networks.  By the way, I consider Busan to be a lovely and underrated city, think of it as the Vancouver of Korea, and on a clear day you can look across the water and see Japan.

Update: See the comments for some challenges to the #2 claim.

Yes, the set up is important, but let’s cut to the chase:

The experimental behaviors of these three subject classes—once again, making real allocations with real money—revealed stark differences between attitudes toward economic justice among ordinary Americans and among the elite. To begin with, the Berkeley and Yale subjects were twice as likely to be selfish as their compatriots in general. In this respect, intermediate and extreme elites stand together with each other, and stand apart from the rest of the country.

What’s more, elite Americans show a far greater commitment to efficiency over equality than ordinary Americans. And this time, the bias toward efficiency increases with each increment of eliteness. The ALP subjects split roughly evenly between focusing on efficiency and focusing on equality; the Berkeley students favored efficiency over equality by a factor of roughly 3-to-2; and the Yale Law students favored efficiency by a factor of 4-to-1.

Yale Law students’ overwhelming, indeed almost eccentric, commitment to efficiency over equality is all the more astonishing given that the students self-identified as Democrats rather than Republicans—and thus sided with the party that claims to represent economic equality in partisan politics—by a factor of more than 10-to-1. An elite constituted by highly partisan Democrats thus showed an immensely greater commitment to efficiency over equality than the bipartisan population at large.

That is from Ray Fisman and Daniel Markowits, do read the whole thing.  I say that is mostly good news, and I disagree with the claim of the authors that a new class war is on its way.

You can read it here (pdf), via Tom Orlik, here is the excerpt which most strongly confirms my prior point of view:

The Caixin services PMI is barely in expansionary territory. A new index of restaurant revenue from Union-Pay Advisors contracted 7.9 percent year on year in August – a drop that reflects more than belt tightening by bureaucrats.

I should note that the overall stance of the piece is more nuanced than that single excerpt would indicate.

Jeremy Corbyn on Twitter

by on September 16, 2015 at 12:55 am in Data Source, Political Science, Religion | Permalink

Thanks Hugo Chavez for showing that the poor matter and wealth can be shared. He made massive contributions to Venezuela & a very wide world

link here, from 2013, and

I believe that homeo-meds works for some ppl and that it compliments ‘convential’ meds. they both come from organic matter…

link here, from 2010.  The spelling and grammar could be improved, too.

The pointers are from Marc Andreessen.

Ten years after enrollment

by on September 14, 2015 at 1:20 am in Data Source, Economics, Education | Permalink

At Bennington College in Vermont, over 48 percent of former students were earning less than $25,000 per year. A quarter were earning less than $10,600 per year. At Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, the median annual earnings were only $35,700. Results at the University of New Mexico were almost exactly the same.

There is more here from Kevin Carey.  There is the well-known debate between human capital and signaling theories, but sometimes education is neither…


James Mackintosh has more to say.

The average scientist is not statistically more likely than a member of the general public to have an artistic or crafty hobby. But members of the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society — elite societies of scientists, membership in which is based on professional accomplishments and discoveries — are 1.7 and 1.9 times more likely to have an artistic or crafty hobby than the average scientist is. And Nobel prize winning scientists are 2.85 times more likely than the average scientist to have an artistic or crafty hobby.

There is more here, by Rosie Cima.  The original research is here, by Root-Bernstein, Allen, and Beach.

For pointers I thank Samir Varma and Robert Wiblin.

I reproduce this verbatim from Angus:

Cool study forthcoming in AEJ Applied about how legal immigration status reduced recidivism of foreign prisoners in the EU. Here’s a link to an un-gated version of the paper.

Here’s the abstract:

We exploit exogenous variation in legal status following the January 2007 European Union enlargement to estimate its effect on immigrant crime. We difference out unobserved time-varying factors by i) comparing recidivism rates of immigrants from the “new” and “candidate” member countries; and ii) using arrest data on foreign detainees released upon a mass clemency that occurred in Italy in August 2006. The timing of the two events allows us to setup a difference-in-differences strategy. Legal status leads to a 50 percent reduction in recidivism, and explains one-half to two-thirds of the observed differences in crime rates between legal and illegal immigrants.

So the good news is that the identification scheme here is pretty darn good. The bad news is that to achieve this strong identification, the paper ends up studying a fairly small sample of foreign criminals:

We are left with 725 and 1,622 individuals in the treated and control groups, respectively.

Model this

by on September 9, 2015 at 9:48 pm in Current Affairs, Data Source, Economics | Permalink

China’s August CPI up 2% on-year, PPI down 5.9%

Where in that market do you want to be? Who is there?  For how long will things stay like this?

I thank Christopher Balding for a related pointer.

Nationals of Burma, Bhutan, and Iraq accounted for more than 70 percent of refugee arrivals to the United States in 2012.

In recent years, Burmese have made up the largest share of refugees resettled in the United States.

The link is here, in 2012 more than 87,000 people were granted asylum status in the United States, here is further data on the process and who exactly is let in.

And we cannot manage 20,000 plus Syrians today?  I do not see that we are having major problems from those earlier arrivals and of course many of them, including some of the Burmese, are Muslims.

The 13.8% decline in imports was significantly worse than consensus expectations for an 8.2% decline, and will only add to concerns over declining Chinese demand.

Under what required assumptions would this translate into a growth rate of say four percent?  Backward-looking?  Forward-looking?  Or is this just a slow structural shift as the Chinese economy gradually moves into services?  Inquiring minds wish to know.

The full report is here.

I learned a good deal reading Ramon H. Myers’s essay “The World Depression and the Chinese Economy 1930-6” in Ian Brown’s The Economies of Africa and Asia in the Inter-war Depression.  Here are a few of his points:

1. In the 1920s, per capita growth in China was probably around 0.33 percent a year, one percent a year in absolute terms.  I would add the notion that the country already was on an explosive growth path does not seem borne out by these estimates.

2. The Chinese financial system at the time was quite free-wheeling and money flowed into China to facilitate the country’s 1915-1930 growth.

3. By the late 1920s, China’s exports were only about 2 to 3 percent of gdp.

4. The Japanese seized Manchuria 1931-32, and the region had been accounting for a significant portion of China’s industrial growth.

5. The loss of Manchuria excepted, Chinese internal growth rose about 11.6 percent a year across 1930-36.  It seems the country just wasn’t hit that hard by the global Great Depression.

6. There was sustained deflation during 1931-1935; some of this ties in to complex developments in the silver market, as China was on a silver standard.  Yet economic activity still expanded.  Silver flowed out of the country, but there was a big boost in credit and “inside money.”

7. As an aside, had I mentioned that the Nanjing government only firmly controlled two provinces of the country as of 1935, with “minimal control” in eight others?

8. Shanghai grew throughout most of the 1930s, with exceptions for the Japanese attack and the Yangtse flood of 1931.

Myers’s conclusion that the Great Depression did not hit China so hard has been challenged (pdf), but so far his account is the most convincing I have found.  China during the Great Depression remains an understudied topic.

In Mississippi, 7.3% of all workers in the state are manufacturing workers who make less than $15 an hour. Losing many of these jobs would have a serious negative impact on the state.

Because of its sample size, the CPS is of more limited use for small geographies. However, there is a relatively large number of observations for Los Angeles County, CA. Almost 400,000 manufacturing workers live in the county, and 55% of them make less than $15 an hour. Many of these workers will be affected by $15 minimum wages that have been approved for the City of Los Angeles and the unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County.

This data suggest that if the minimum wage was increased to $15 an hour across the U.S., it would impact a significant number of manufacturing workers, with some states being hit harder than others. This reflects the fact that lifting the minimum wage to $15 an hour would not just be quantitatively larger than previous U.S. experience, but qualitatively different in that it would affect a different set of workers and industries. Leisure/hospitality and retail make up 54% of the workers who make less than $8 an hour, but only 34% of those making less than $15 an hour. As the minimum wage rises it affects other sectors. For manufacturing, at least, the effect is likely to be greater.

That is from Adam Ozimek, more at the link.

How left-leaning are lawyers?

by on August 28, 2015 at 10:07 am in Data Source, Education, Law | Permalink

Adam Bonica, Adam S. Chilton, and Maya Sen have an extensive new paper (pdf) on this subject:

American lawyers lean to the left of the ideological spectrum. To help place this in context, the mean DIME score among the attorney population is -0.31 compared to -0.05 for the entire population of donors. Moreover, some 62% of the sample of attorneys are positioned to the left of the midpoint between the party means for members of Congress. Morover, the modal CFscore is in the center-left. This places the average American lawyer’s ideology close to the ideology of Bill Clinton. To be more precise, the modal CFscore for American lawyers is -0.52 and Bill Clinton’s CFscore is -0.68. This confirms prior scholarship and journalism that has argued that the legal profession is liberal on balance. To our knowledge, however, this figure represents the most comprehensive picture of the ideology of American lawyers ever assembled.

There is however a (quite slight) bimodal nature to the distribution and a cluster of right-leaning attorneys has views similar to those of Mitt Romney.  Not so many lawyers are true extremists, at least not in this data set.  Figure 2 on p.19 will not reproduce for me but it is an excellent picture of the data, including comparisons with other professions.

We learn also that female attorneys are considerably more liberal than male attorneys, but the number of years of work predicts a conservative pull.  Being a law firm partner also predicts views which are more conservative than average.  If you consider “Big Law” attorneys, while they are overall to the Left, they are more conservative on average than the cities they live in, such as NYC or Los Angeles.  Lawyers in Washington, D.C. are especially left-leaning.

The top fourteen law schools all have distributions which lean to the Left (pp.28-29), and UC Berkeley has the most left-leaning alumni.  The five law schools, of the fifty surveyed, with right-leaning alumni are University of Oklahoma, Texas A&M University, University of Georgia, Louisiana State University, and Brigham Young University.  Pages 38-40 of the paper rank different major law firms by how left- or right-leaning their employees are.

Oil and gas, M&A, and energy lawyers are relatively conservative, see p.45.  Entertainment lawyers are relatively left-leaning, same for civil rights and personal injury lawyers.  Don’t even ask about law professors.  Public defenders are far more left-leaning than prosecutors, though prosecutors are still more left-leaning than lawyers as a whole.

This paper is interesting throughout.