…One of their most striking findings is that societies characterized by greater economic freedom and greater wealth do indeed exhibit greater tolerance toward gay people, a tendency suggesting that gay rights, including gay marriage, will spread globally as national economies liberalize and develop.
Some metrics of economic freedom count more than others:
This greater tolerance is strongly associated only with certain features of what has often been defined as economic freedom. For example, a smaller government, measured as a share of gross domestic product, is often included in so-called economic freedom indexes as an objective measure of freedom. But the data show that smaller government has a slight negative correlation with tolerance of gay people by heterosexuals. One implication is that many conservatives may be overly preoccupied with the size of government as a measure of how free societies actually are.
On the other hand, the data shows that when a society has impressive scores on property rights security and low inflation — two other components of economic freedom indexes — these characteristics are strongly and positively correlated with tolerance of gays. It’s possible that low inflation, and the behavior of a central bank, are stand-ins for the general trustworthiness of a nation’s government and broader institutions, and such trustworthiness helps foster tolerance.
The results for race are not nearly as strong, namely both freedom and prosperity are less clearly associated with higher levels of racial tolerance, although the correlation is still a positive one.
And there is this:
We are often told that education is an important remedy, yet it does not register as a meaningful factor in the cross-country data in this paper. Higher levels of education simply have not correlated significantly with higher levels of tolerance across countries.
A reluctance to pay taxes was much criticised by Greece’s creditors as one reason why the country needed a big international bailout. Now many Greeks are again avoiding the taxman as they bet the radical left Syriza party will quickly loosen fiscal policy if it comes to power in Sunday’s general election.
A finance ministry official confirmed on Friday that state revenues had collapsed this month. “It’s normal for the tax take to decline during an election campaign but this time it’s more noticeable,” the official said, avoiding any specific figures on the projected shortfall.
However, two private sector economists forecast the shortfall could exceed €1.5bn, or more than 40 per cent of projected revenues for January.
File under “In case you had not been paying attention…” And here is Antonio Fatás with a Grexit scenario. That is still not what most people expect, however.
…in the days since the more secure movable median barrier was installed, the average speed of drivers on the approach from the north has jumped even though the speed limit was lowered from 55 to 45 miles per hour.
“We’re really seeing unreasonable speeds on the bridge, much faster than before,” said Priya David Clemens, a representative for the Golden Gate Bridge District. For whatever reason, including the possibility that drivers feel safer knowing a car won’t come barreling at them from the opposite direction, “we’ve noticed speeds going up,” Clemens said. “That’s why we asked the CHP to help us.”
Very sadly Ernie Banks — the baseball player for you foreigners out there — has passed away.
Oddly, I have taken to quoting him lately. If you are going out to eat with a small group, I recommend two stops. No, don’t eat any more food than usual, but distribute your meal across two restaurants. Have a few appetizers in one, and then leave and move on to another. (This is easiest to do in Eden Center, with its wide selection of small-dish Vietnamese eateries, but other methods will work.) Of course you must sequence your meals properly, the Greek eggplant must become before the Sichuan noodles, not vice versa.
This approach will improve the conversation at your table, if only by breaking up the original seating plan. It also makes you more aware and more appreciative of what you are eating.
Here is some media coverage of a recent Facebook study of its economic impact in terms of revenue and jobs. Facebook claims it added $227 billion to the global economy, but they approached the question the wrong way.
The correct method is to treat jobs as a cost of Facebook, not a benefit, admittedly that is not how politics works nor is it how corporate PR works. We should measure the benefits directly by consumer time use studies, much as Austan Goolsbee and Peter J. Klenow did in their paper on the internet (pdf).
My question today is this: what is the most accurate one line back-of-the-envelope estimate you can come up with for the gross benefits of Facebook, not bothering to subtract for the costs of running the site? Here is one (hypothetical and illustrative) example, for America only:
100 million regular users, one hour a day, time valued at $10 an hour, and multiply for $365 billion a year.
You will notice this method implicitly captures the value and disvalue of the ads on Facebook. The better and more useful the ads are, the more time people will spend on the site.
I don’t devote time to Facebook (I can thank MR for that), so surely you can do better than I in building a plausible one-line estimate. Please leave your answer in the comments.
Jinfeng Luo and Yi Wen from the St. Louis Fed have a new working paper (pdf), “Institutions Do Not Rule: Reassessing the Driving Forces of Economic Development”:
We use cross-country data and instrumental variables widely used in the literature to show that (i) institutions (such as property rights and the rule of law) do not explain industrialization and (ii) agrarian countries and industrial countries have entirely different determinants for income levels.
In particular, geography, rather than institutions, explains the income differences among agrarian countries, while institutions appear to matter only for income variations in industrial economies. Moreover, we find it is the stage of economic development (or the absence/presence of industrialization) that explains a country’s quality of institutions rather than vice versa.
The finding that institutions do not explain industrialization but are instead explained by industrialization lends support to the well-received view among prominent economic historians — that institutional changes in 17th and 18th century England did not cause the Industrial Revolution.
I am reminded of a puzzle which I think was first posed by Jeff Sachs. Go back to 1960 and choose any measure of institutional quality you want. Then see how well it predicts cross-national growth since then. And that is doing the exercise knowing how the answer comes out!
As part of a publicity stunt, author James Patterson is giving away 1,000 self-destructing digital advance copies of his latest novel, Private Vegas. If you score one, you have 24 hours to finish the entire book before the text vanishes forever. And if that’s just not risky enough, Patterson is selling a real self-destructing copy (for a whopping $294,038) that includes a dedicated bomb squad, among other creature comforts. There are likely much better ways to spend six digits in record time, but it’ll probably be the most exciting reading experience you ever have — no matter how good the story might be.
There is more here, via Kurt Busboom. Much better than my advice, it would seem.
Most of the decline in participation occurred among teenagers and young adults. The finding that these effects tend to be larger in more prosperous families points strongly away from much of a role for rising influence of benefit programs, because these programs, especially food stamps, are only available to families with incomes well below the median.
So what is going on here? Could it be “culture”? Hall cites, suggestively, time use surveys showing that sleep and personal consumption of video are up strongly.
We propose a theory of the origins of India’s caste system by explicitly recognizing the productivity of women in complementing their husbands’ occupation-specific skill. The theory explains the core features of the caste system: its hereditary and hierarchical nature, and its insistence on endogamy (marriage only within castes). Endogamy is embraced by a group to minimize an externality that arises when group members marry outsiders. We demonstrate why the caste system embodies gender asymmetries in punishments for violations of endogamy and tolerates hypergamy (marrying up) more than hypogamy (marrying down). Our model also speaks to other aspects of caste, such as commensality restrictions and arranged/child marriages. We suggest that India’s caste system is so unique because the Brahmins sought to preserve and orally transmit the Hindu scriptures for over a millennium with no script. We show that economic considerations were of utmost importance in the emergence of the caste system.
There are ungated versions of the paper here. Here are earlier MR posts on the Indian caste system. I think I am not enough of a rational choice theorist to believe in any explanation of this sort, still it is sometimes better to try and fail than never to try at all…
Fighters for one of the factions battling for control of Libya seized the Benghazi branch of the country’s central bank on Thursday, threatening to set off an armed scramble for the bank’s vast stores of money and gold, and cripple one of the last functioning institutions in the country.
The central bank is the repository for Libya’s oil revenue and holds nearly $100 billion in foreign currency reserves. It is the great prize at the center of the armed struggles that have raged here since the overthrow of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011.
Sir, Whether the European Central Bank chooses to embark on a programme of sovereign QE (or quantitative easing, as it used to be known) is of little day-to-day interest to most citizens of the EU. Whether the compilers of dictionaries accept that QE is now a word in its own right — as opposed to an abbreviation — is of far more relevance to us scrabble players. Using a Q without needing a free U it would rapidly be up there with Qi (the Chinese word for life force) as one of the most useful words in the lexicon.
Surbiton, Surrey, UK
I would think that for the foreseeable future QE would be ruled an abbreviation, not a word, although enough years of macroeconomic misery eventually could flip this the other way.