Month: July 2017
In countries with a tradition of plough use, women are less likely to participate in the labor market, own firms, and participate in national politics.
…societies that historically used the plough are characterized by higher parental authority granted to the father, by inheritance rules that favor male heirs, and by less freedom for women to move outside the house. She also finds that, in these societies, women are more likely to wear a veil in public and polygamy is less accepted or illegal.
Past societal norms, too, are related to domestic violence today: women in societies formerly characterized by bride-price have a lower probability and lower intensity of violence today.
That is from a new NBER working paper by Paola Giuliano. Among other things, this means that how you treat people today really matters for the longer run.
1. City dwellers are clueless about the suburbs (NYT). But they are happy if their kids can continue to slack off.
3. The elderly have higher income than we thought: “…the discrepancy is mainly attributable to underreporting of retirement income from defined benefit pensions and retirement account withdrawals.”
When I was in India, I visited the High Court of Bombay. It’s surprisingly easy to get in. Wandering around the halls and offices, upstairs and downstairs, I was surprised to see stacks and stacks of papers piled up against walls all bound with….red tape.
In an excellent piece in the WSJ, Niharika Mandhana and Vibhuti Agarwal, describe a similar court in Allahabad.
Tattered stacks of case paper were piled on racks, tables, chairs and the floor. Towers of folders spilled into corridors where passersby toppled smaller stacks. Files from 2015 mixed with ones from 2016 and 2017, creating a nightmare for officers struggling to locate hundreds of them every day.
On a stuffy third floor, Amit Kumar Yadav, age 35, squeezed sideways through dust-laden stacks, then pulled himself up on his toes and vaulted over the paperwork that carpeted the floor.
After an eight-hour hunt, he was still missing 17 of 65 files for the next day’s hearings. Those cases won’t be heard.
In my review of the Marathi movie Court, I said
Court not only shows the mundane production of injustice it structures itself around that theme. Scenes drift on for longer than expected. The movie builds tension like a conversation with uncomfortable pauses. The audience begins to fidget and think “when will this be over.” That’s intentional. In a two-hour movie Tamhane makes you feel a little like what the people in Indian court must feel, trapped.
That’s not a great advertisement for a movie but you watch Court not for the watching but for the experience of having watched. Even now the tension and the feel of the movie are with me and add color to observations like this:
Waiting anxiously in the back of a nearby courtroom, Mohammad Aqeel Hasan, a 27-year-old farmer, has lost count of the number of court trips he has made from his village. He said he was sure it was fewer than his father had made in the 1983 lawsuit against their neighbor. Each side claims ownership of land between their properties.
His father had won a swift victory in a lower court, but the decision was overturned on appeal. His father’s appeal of that decision has been pending since 1986. A few years ago, when his father could no longer travel, Mr. Hasan took over.
“At this rate, the case will go on for hundred years,” Mr. Hasan said. Court appearances require a 10-hour journey by train from his village.
Mr. Hasan’s case came and went in a heartbeat. The other side’s lawyer had sent an illness slip, forcing a delay.
“Not well again?” the judge said, and he moved the hearing to another month.
Mr. Hasan was crestfallen. “Coming to court is not easy,” he said, heading to the railway station for his trip home.
See also my piece, A Twisted Tale of Rent Control in the Maximum City.
That is the new, magisterial, and comprehensive history by Douglas A. Irwin, just arrived in my hands and due out November 27. It is likely the best history of trade policy to be written, 821 pp., the questions it covers include:
How did Jefferson’s trade embargo in 1808 affect the economy? Did high tariffs promote America’s industrialization in the nineteenth century? Did the Hawley-Smoot tariff of 1930 exacerbate or ameliorate the Great Depression? Were liberal trade policies after World War II responsible for the economic prosperity experienced in the postwar period? Did trade with China in the early 2000s destroy jobs in manufacturing?
Most of all, this book focuses on the determinants of US trade policy. I am just starting to make my way through it, highly recommended, readable too, and of course all of these issues matter more than you thought they were going to. You can pre-order here.
In the United States, Medicare starts at age 65. So to the extent health care improves health outcomes, we should see a noticeable uptick in results as people reach 65, at least relative to the trajectory of aging they otherwise would experience. Of course many other national health care systems treat 64 and 65-year olds as the same, so we can compare the American case to those alternatives. That would give us a better sense of the relative performance of single-payer coverage, no?
Has such a study been done, and if so what did it yield?
The Economist reports on the work of three GMUers, Robert Warren Anderson, Noel Johnson, and Mark Koyama, all leaders of the next generation of GMU economists and up-and-coming stars:
A new study* by Robert Warren Anderson, Noel Johnson and Mark Koyama suggests that, historically, economic shocks were more strongly associated with outbreaks of violence directed against Jews than scholars had previously thought. The authors collected data for 1,366 anti-Semitic events involving forced emigration or murderous pogroms in 936 European cities between 1100 and 1800. This was then compared with historical temperature data from a variety of sources, including tree rings, Arctic ice cores and contemporary descriptions of the weather.
Cold spells hit medieval agriculture hard: a one-degree Celsius fall in temperatures reduced the growing season by up to four weeks. Lower yields caused widespread economic pain: up to 57% of people relied on farming for work in medieval England, for instance. The authors find that a fall in average temperatures of only a third of a degree increased the probability of a pogrom or expulsion by 50% over the next five years. They argue that violence against Jews was not simply caused by religiously-motivated anti-Semitism: “The Jews were convenient scapegoats for social and economic ills.”
The authors find that economic shocks had greater effects where soils were less suited to farming or where governments were weaker, and so less able to stop violence.
Here is a link to the published paper.
3. “Her look is clear: Stamps Man is their most unexpected commission ever.” The article is safe for work, but it is about a prurient topic.
5. Full speech of V. Orbán. More ethno-nationalism in that part of the world isn’t exactly good news.
Partner Choice, Investment in Children, and the Marital College Premium, by Pierre-André Chiappori, Bernard Salanié and Yoram Weiss
We construct a model of household decision-making in which agents consume a private and a public good, interpreted as children’s welfare. Children’s utility depends on their human capital, which depends on the time their parents spend with them and on the parents’ human capital. We first show that as returns to human capital increase, couples at the top of the income distribution should spend more time with their children. This in turn should reinforce assortative matching, in a sense that we precisely define. We then embed the model into a transferable utility matching framework with random preferences, a la Choo and Siow (2006), which we estimate using US marriage data for individuals born between 1943 and 1972. We find that the preference for partners of the same education has significantly increased for white individuals, particularly for the highly educated. We find no evidence of such an increase for black individuals. Moreover, in line with theoretical predictions, we find that the “marital college-plus premium” has increased for women but not for men.
Here are ungated versions.
Is this convenience, or a new front in the signaling and counter-signaling wars?:
On the surface, it could be your typical trailer park, with its boring rows of modular mobile homes squeezed onto tiny plots of land.
But Montauk Shores features something other trailer parks don’t: million-dollar views — and billionaire residents.
Owning a trailer at the park has become the ultimate status symbol for the tony Long Island town’s summering rich and famous, many of whom use their relatively modest mobile digs as a second pad to escape with the family or even as a glorified changing room after a long day of romping in Montauk’s waves.
There’s also the indescribable cachet that comes with shabby chic.
“All you own is the box of air above the land,” noted a former Montauk Shores trailer owner. “Whoever buys here is essentially buying a 24-foot-wide-by-50-foot-long box of air.”
But for some deep-pocketed denizens, that’s all they want. So many wealthy people have infiltrated the trailer park that it now has its own “Billionaires’ Corner,’’ a local Realtor told The Post.
Here is the full story, with photos and details.
The latest instance of the musical death and resurrection show is none other than Ronnie James Dio, who died in 2010. Thanks to a hologram (actually a high-tech version of an old parlor trick), the former Black Sabbath frontman will start touring Europe the November 30th before hitting the States next spring. “His” set will change nightly, according to Rolling Stone, and audio recordings were pulled from his entire career. “He” will play each night with a backing band and some dates will have singers Tim “Ripper” Owens (Judas Priest) and Oni Logan (Racer X) on stage as well.
Shashi Tharoor, former Under-Secretary-General at the United Nations, bestselling author, Indian politician and current member of the Indian parliament has written a powerful brief against the British in An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India (also published as Inglorious Empire). It’s an enjoyable read but some of the economic history is wrong and a number of the social arguments implausible.
I offer no defense of the British empire which was cruel, rapacious and racist but I do correct the record in my long-form review at the Indian journal Pragati.
Here is one bit:
Hindu and Muslim divisions run deeper than the ink marks of colonial census takers. Emperor Aurangzeb killed his brother Dara Shikoh for apostasy in 1659 and the echoes of that fratricide travel down the centuries to Partition. Aurangzeb’s tax on non-Muslims, the jizya tax, abolished in the 16th century by his great-grandfather, the third Mughal emperor Akbar, but re-imposed a hundred years later is another sign of deteriorating interreligious relations. Even some events outside of India, such as the rise of the Wahhabi branch of Sunni Islam in the 19th century, were clearly more important for Hindu-Muslim relations than were the census takers (Allen 2005, Dalrymple 2008). The rise of Wahhabism and the decline of Sufism were bound to upset Hindu-Muslim relations no matter what the British did.
Read the whole thing.
Even if the traveller hasn’t pre-selected her seat before the flight, the airline claims it will “ensure only a window or aisle seat is assigned at check-in” to its female passengers.
Here is the full piece, via the excellent Samir Varma.
No, it’s not Michael Oakeshott:
At the London Review Bookshop, John Clegg reports a fondness for philosophers. “Our most-stolen authors, in order, are Baudrillard, Freud, Nietzsche, Graham Greene, Lacan, Camus, and whoever puts together the Wisden Almanack. The appetite for Greene (which seems to have died down a little now) was particularly surprising, but I suppose they identify with Pinkie,” said Clegg.
“We caught a gent last Christmas with £400-worth of stolen books in his trousers and elsewhere. We grabbed all of the bags back, but he returned about half an hour later to reclaim a half-bottle of whisky and his dream journal, which had been at the bottom of one of the bags of stolen books. As we showed him the door he told us: ‘I hope you’ll consider this in the Žižekian spirit, as a radical reappropriation of knowledge.’”
Daunt says that the kleptomaniacal customers in Waterstones have always had a penchant for Kierkegaard, à la Renton in Irvine Welsh’s novel Trainspotting. “You slightly wonder when it’s always books by the likes of Sartre and Kierkegaard – there must be an awful lot of people working their minds out so much that they don’t have any money,” says Daunt. “Whenever I’d go past Kierkegaard I’d make sure they and Wittgenstein were all there, but often the odd one or two would be gone and it always made me smile.”
Here is the full story.
Cellophane gets an entire chapter in Hisano’s book. As she explains in the paper, cellophane packaging let food vendors manipulate the appearance of foods by controlling the amount of moisture and oxygen that touched a product, thus preventing discoloration. “Cellophane played a big part in how the color of food started to be controlled and standardized,” she says.
…Cellophane, the world’s first transparent packaging film, was invented in 1908 by the Swiss engineer Jacques Brandenberger. He dubbed it “cellophane” as a combination of the words “cellulose” (of which it was made) and “diaphane” (an archaic form of the word “diaphanous,” which is a fancy word for “transparent”). He assigned his patents to La Cellophane Societe Anonyme, a French company formed for the sole purpose of marketing the invention. In 1923, the company licensed to DuPont the exclusive rights to make and sell cellophane in the United States.
…Initial versions of cellophane were waterproof, but not moisture-proof. So, while it was effective for wrapping products like candy and cigarettes, it wasn’t effective for packaging fresh food. In 1927, DuPont developed moisture-proof cellophane, food manufacturers started using it to package items like cakes and cheeses, and cellophane sales tripled between 1928 and 1930.
Here is the full story, interesting throughout, via the estimable Chug.