Law

Here is one bit:

Do they take a data-driven approach to parenting, I wonder? Fryer confesses to owning a Dropbox folder called “the science of kids”, with data to cite in arguments over sleep training. They also plotted their daughter’s weight on a spreadsheet for a couple of weeks. “But then it was too tiring. There’s nothing like your own child to make you want to throw data out of the window,” he jokes.

He admits he has slowed down from his most workaholic phase but I suspect we’re talking fine margins.

Interesting throughout, I fear it is gated for you, very sad do subscribe.  I link to it anyway as a show of expressive support for both Fryer and the FT and also John McDermott.

A decade after their military service, white veterans of the draft were earning about 15 percent less than their peers who didn’t serve, according to studies from MIT economist Josh Angrist.

Now, new research suggests that the draft did more than dim the prospects of that earlier generation: The children of men with unlucky draft numbers are also worse off today. They earn less and are less likely to have jobs, according to a draft of a report from Sarena F. Goodman, an economist with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and Adam Isen, an economist at the Treasury Department. (A copy was released by the Fed in December, but research does not reflect the opinions of the government.)

The researchers have not nailed down how, exactly, any of this is happening, nor why the disadvantage appears to be over twice as potent for sons than for daughters. But the work is valuable for showing how the circumstances of one’s parents can have lasting repercussions. This is one way that inequality persists through the generations.

That is from Jeff Guo at Wonkblog.

A new study, forthcoming in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, suggests that conservative and libertarian professors are more productive than are their colleagues. James Cleith Phillips, a Ph.D. student at the law school at the University of California at Berkeley, compared the publication and citation records of faculty members at the 16 highest-rated law schools in the country. He found that conservative and libertarian professors at the law schools were more productive than their peers. The paper says this finding is consistent with (but does not demonstrate) the thesis that conservative and libertarian applicants face some discrimination in the hiring process.

That is from Inside Higher Ed, via Anecdotal.

Economists on FDA Reciprocity

by on January 14, 2016 at 7:05 am in Economics, Law, Medicine | Permalink

Daniel Klein & William Davis surveyed economists about whether it would be an improvement to reform the FDA so that “as soon as a new drug is approved by any one of five [FDA approved international] agencies, that drug automatically gains approval in the United States.” They report:

Of the 467 economists who answered the question and did not mark “Have no opinion,” 53 percent agreed that the reform would be an improvement, while 29 percent disagreed. (The remainder said they were “neutral.”) Moreover, those favoring the reform were more likely to say they held their belief “strongly.” Hence, the balance of economist judgment certainly leaned in favor of the liberalization.

Economists are not the only ones in favor of reciprocity. Others are also coming around, at least partially. In Generic Drug Regulation and Pharmaceutical Price-Jacking I argued in response to the massive increases in the price of Daraprim (generic name Pyrimethamine) that we ought to allow importation:

Pyrimethamine is also widely available in Europe. I’ve long argued for reciprocity, if a drug is approved in Europe it ought to be approved here. In this case, the logic is absurdly strong. The drug is already approved here! All that we would be doing is allowing import of any generic approved as such in Europe to be sold in the United States.

In a paper in JAMA discussing the same case, Drs Jeremy Greene, Gerard Anderson, and Joshua M. Sharfstein agree, writing:

A second option is to temporarily permit the importation of drug products reviewed by competent regulatory authorities and approved for sale outside the United States. For example, Glaxo, the original manufacturer of pyrimethamine, sells a version of the drug approved for use in the United Kingdom at less than $1 per tablet.

Dr Sharfstein by the way was Principal Deputy Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration from March 2009 to January 2011.

Addendum: I will be discussing/debating pharmaceutical policy with Dr. Sharfstein at on event sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC the morning of Monday January 25. Invitation only but email me if you want an invite.

New York City’s top traffic agent is a relentless, ruthless street-sweeper who slings summonses at a rate of one every 9 minutes, 45 seconds.

South Brooklyn’s orange tsunami, Arnous Morin, 53, wrote nearly 19,000 parking tickets in fiscal year 2015, an average of 76 per day he worked, city rec­ords analyzed by The Post and AAA Northeast show.

The one-man ticket blitz dished out 4,000 more summonses than the city’s No. 2 traffic cop.

And Morin’s base pay of $36,000 was eclipsed 33 times over by the amount of fines he generated for city coffers — $1.2 million.

Morin, who was a Catholic-school principal in his native Haiti, is unapologetic about his lack of mercy for motorists.

“Never, never. It’s never OK to break the law,” he told The Post at his Canarsie home. “The law is hard, but it’s the law. You can’t break the law for any reason.”

He is in fact paid about 63k a year with overtime.  And he has been ticketed three times himself, though I believe not by himself.  He claims to hold a knowledge of the entirety of South Brooklyn in his head.

Morin

The story is here, with other interesting points, via Jordan Schneider.

Joel S. Wit, who has negotiated with North Koreans for over twenty years, has a very interesting NYT piece on that topic, here is one excerpt:

The North Koreans may know a lot about the outside world, but they don’t know everything, even about the United States, their main adversary. In one meeting, an official asked, “Why do the president and secretary of state keep saying that the United States will not allow North Korea to have nuclear weapons when in fact you are not doing much to stop us?” He deduced that there must be a hidden agenda. “It’s because you want us to have nuclear weapons as an excuse to tighten your grip on South Korea and Japan, your two allies.” We responded that there was no hidden agenda and that the United States really did not want the North to have those weapons. I’m not sure we convinced him.

The piece is interesting throughout, most of all Wit stresses their realism and sophistication as negotiators, and urges us not to think of them as lunatics.

2016 Law and Literature reading list

by on January 10, 2016 at 12:47 am in Books, Film, Law, Philosophy | Permalink

The New English Bible, Oxford Study Edition

Guantanamo Diary, by Mohamedou Ould Slahi

Albert Camus, The Stranger

Kamel Daoud, The Meursault Investigation

Janet Malcolm, The Crime of Sheila McGough

Njal’s Saga (on-line version is fine)

Glaspell’s Trifles, available on-line

Year’s Best SF 9, edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, used or Kindle edition is recommended

The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, and Other Stories, by Franz Kafka, edited and translated by Joachim Neugroschel

In the Belly of the Beast, by Jack Henry Abbott

Sherlock Holmes, The Complete Novels and Stories, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, volume 1, also on-line

I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov

Moby Dick, by Hermann Melville, excerpts, chapters 89 and 90, available on-line

Death and the Maiden, Ariel Dorfman

The Pledge, Friedrich Durrenmatt

Ian McEwan, The Children Act

We also will see some films and cover some very short on-line readings, as I will distribute at the appropriate times; your papers may draw on these as well.

At the end of the day, the great benefit of field experiments to economics and political scientists is that it’s forced some of the best social scientists to try to get complicated things done in unfamiliar places, and deal with all the constraints, bureaucrats, logistics, and impediments to reform you can imagine.

Arguably, the tacit knowledge these academics have developed about development and reform will be more influential to their long run work and world view than the experiments themselves.

That is from Chris Blattman.  He concludes:

We are all Albert Hirschman now.

From Nick Robinson at Harvard Law:

Abstract:
While the ubiquity of lawyers in U.S. electoral politics has frequently been noted, there has been almost no research on how their prevalence has changed over time, why these changes might have occurred, or the consequences of any such shift. This working paper helps fill this gap by using a unique data set that extends over two hundred years to chart the occupational background of members of the U.S. Congress. It finds that lawyers’ dominance in Congress is in slow, but steady, retreat. In the mid-19th century almost 80% of members of Congress were lawyers. By the 1960s this had dropped to a bit under 60%, and by 2015 it was slightly under 40%. The working paper also details variation of the prevalence of lawyers in Congress on the basis of geographic region, gender, race, and political party. It puts forward a set of arguments about why lawyers have traditionally had such success in U.S. federal electoral politics, including the politicization of the US justice system and the comparative advantage lawyers have over other occupations in terms of access to resources and career flexibility. It then claims that lawyers’ electoral decline may be the result of changes within the legal profession, as well as the emergence of a competing full-time professionalized political class, comprised of political aides and members of civil society, who have made politics a career. It ends by briefly exploring some of the potential ramifications of this decline on the legal profession.

File under…”division of labor is limited by the extent of the market.”

Hat tip goes to www.bookforum.com.

Obamacare in 2016

by on January 6, 2016 at 2:25 am in Current Affairs, Economics, Law, Medicine | Permalink

During the election season Democrats can’t admit Obamacare is broken and Republicans can’t admit it won’t be repealed.

An excellent post from Robert Laszewski, read the whole thing.

There is a new and very important regulatory database now published and on-line:

RegData: A numerical database on industry-specific regulations for all United States industries and federal regulations, 1997–2012

Omar Al-Ubaydli and Patrick A. McLaughlin

Abstract

We introduce RegData, formerly known as the Industry-specific Regulatory Constraint Database. RegData annually quantifies federal regulations by industry and regulatory agency for all federal regulations from 1997–2012. The quantification of regulations at the industry level for all industries is without precedent. RegData measures regulation for industries at the two, three, and four-digit levels of the North American Industry Classification System. We created this database using text analysis to count binding constraints in the wording of regulations, as codified in the Code of Federal Regulations, and to measure the applicability of regulatory text to different industries. We validate our measures of regulation by examining known episodes of regulatory growth and deregulation, as well as by comparing our measures to an existing, cross-sectional measure of regulation. Researchers can use this database to study the determinants of industry regulations and to study regulations’ effects on a massive array of dependent variables, both across industries and time.

Here is the published piece.  Here is a working paper version.  Here is the database itself.  Here is background and an explanation of different versions of the data base.

If so, a sad day, here is the scoop:

Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone is facing the biggest test of its two-decade existence after Sweden  re-imposed controls on visitors crossing from Denmark across what had been one of most open borders in the world.

Hours after the measures came into effect, Denmark announced it would slap new controls on its own border with Germany, while Berlin warned that the 26-nation zone of passport-free travel was now “in danger”.

Six Schengen countries – Austria, Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark and non-EU member Norway – have now reintroduced border checks as Europe struggles to cope with an unprecedented influx of refugees and migrants from conflict zones including Syria and Afghanistan.

Here is the story, via Meg Greene.

I believe Card and Krueger will and should win Nobel Prizes, but their work is also not the last word on the minimum wage, especially during weak labor markets.  Here is the most recent study, by Jeffrey Clemens:

I analyze recent federal minimum wage increases using the Current Population Survey. The relevant minimum wage increases were differentially binding across states, generating natural comparison groups. I first estimate a standard difference-in-differences model on samples restricted to relatively low-skilled individuals, as described by their ages and education levels. I also employ a triple-difference framework that utilizes continuous variation in the minimum wage’s bite across skill groups. In both frameworks, estimates are robust to adopting a range of alternative strategies, including matching on the size of states’ housing declines, to account for variation in the Great Recession’s severity across states. My baseline estimate is that this period’s full set of minimum wage increases reduced employment among individuals ages 16 to 30 with less than a high school education by 5.6 percentage points. This estimate accounts for 43 percent of the sustained, 13 percentage point decline in this skill group’s employment rate and a 0.49 percentage point decline in employment across the full population ages 16 to 64.

Do any of you see an ungated version?  In any case I hope this receives the media attention it deserves.  Will it?

Stephen Smith, a well-known urban blogger, writes in the comments to Interfluidity:

Finally, I think you’re not giving us enough credit for thinking through the political challenges to urban land use deregulation. I’m well aware of the entrenched interests opposing it, and the most promising solution I’ve seen is to shift the level of governance upwards. Washington and Oregon have much stronger state-level planning laws than California, and permit about twice as much housing as a result, with much lower urban housing prices. Ontario also has strong provincial planning, and Toronto has a torrential housing stock growth rate and very low housing prices compared to similar US cities. And in Japan, the central government has a huge hand in land use regulation and localities are relatively powerless, and Japan is literally the market urbanist promised land, which a mind-blowing housing stock growth rate in Tokyo, to the point where their private railroads are profitable and one is able to undertake an incredible capital expansion project, practically without subsidies.

The pointer is from Reihan.  And here is a story from my own northern Virginia: “The century-old congregation decided to sell its building, parking lot and grounds to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, which will tear down the stone structure and replace it with 173 affordable apartments.”  Bravo.

For best non-fiction book of the year, a late entry swoops in to take first place!  That’s right, I am going to select The Conflict Shoreline: Colonization as Climate Change in the Negev Desert, by Eyal Weizman and Fazal Sheikh.

This is an unusual book.  It is only 85 pp. of text and about half of it is aerial photos and maps.  It covers the history of the Negev desert, the Bedouin, Israeli policy toward the Bedouin, ecology, seed botany, and the roles of water policy and climate change, all in remarkably interesting and information-rich fashion, with a dose of Braudel and also Sebald in terms of method.

For one thing, it caused me to rethink what books as a whole should be.  This is one cool book.

To make it stranger yet, this book is Weizman’s response to Sheikh’s The Erasure Trilogy, which is structured as a tour of the ruins of the 1948 conflict.  That book is I believe from a Palestinian point of view, and described as a “visual poem.”  I just ordered it; note that Sheikh is the photographer for The Conflict Shoreline and thus listed as a co-author.

Some will read The Conflict Shoreline as “anti-Israeli” in parts, but that is not the main point of the book or my endorsement of it.  The book however does point out that Israeli policies toward the Bedouin often were prompted by a desire to remove large numbers of them from their previous Negev land and move them into the West Bank and Egypt.  I had not known “The village of al-‘Araqib has been destroyed and rebuilt more than 70 times in the ongoing “Battle over the Negev””.  The book ends with a two-page evidentiary aerial photo of that village, taken during 1945; other photos of it date as far back as 1918.  This is all part of Weizman’s project of “reverse surveillance.”

It is a hard book to summarize, in part because it is so visual and so integrative, but here is one excerpt:

The Negev Desert is the largest and busiest training area for the Israeli Air Force and has one of the most cluttered airspaces in the world.  The airspace is partitioned into a complex stratigraphy of layers, airboxes, and corridors dedicated to different military platforms: from bomber jets through helicopters to drones.  This complex volume is an integral part of the architecture of the Negev.

And then it will move to a discussion of seed technology, or how Bedouin economic strategies have changed over the course of the twentieth century, and how these various topics fit together.  Think of it also as a contribution to location theory and economic geography, but adding vertical space, manipulated topography, rainfall, and temperature to the relevant dimensions of the problem.

Too bad it costs $40.00.  Recommended, nonetheless.  Here is one review, here is another, the latter having especially good photos of the book’s photos.

Here is a good interview with Weizman, who among other things outlines his concept of Forensic Architecture.

Here is my earlier post on the best non-fiction books of 2015.  And here is an earlier post the best books under one hundred pages.

Weizmanbook