Month: April 2019
New research shows that the fear of smart phones and social media was built on a castle made of sand. Turns out almost all of previous research never bothered to validate their assessments of smart phone use – and that appears to have been a HUGE mistake.
1. The case for Mayor Pete: “Buttigieg doesn’t even seem to speak the language of progressivism.”
That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, noting that lately Mexico has been demanding an apology from Spain for colonialism. Here is one bit:
Some features of good apologies are sincerity, overall compatibility with what the apologizer now stands for in other contexts, and a broad social willingness to accept that something indeed has been settled for the better.
OK, so how about Spain and Mexico? I am skeptical of this proposed apology, partly because it seems like a political maneuver by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to garner political support and distract from his likely failure to successfully reform Mexico’s economy. The current Spanish government also is not a close descendant of the conquistadors, as it is a full-blown democracy and the conquest was almost 500 years ago. One can acknowledge the massive injustices of the history without thinking that current Spanish citizens necessarily should feel so guilty. And (until recently) Spain-Mexico relations have not been problematic, so it is not clear exactly what problem this apology is supposed to solve.
The current demand for an apology is a distraction from the enduring injustice of Mexico’s segregation. If Spaniards found their own reasons for wishing to apologize, that would be a good result. But on this demand, they are correct to give it a pass.
I also consider the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Rwanda.
More workers ought to be in larger firms, as those firms are afraid to hire more, knowing that bids up wages for everyone. Therefore (ceteris paribus) the large firms in the economy ought to be larger.
Raising the legal minimum wage also reallocates workers into larger firms, and again makes them larger.
Tough stuff if you worry a lot about both monopoly and monopsony at the same time — choose your poison!
I have adapted those points from a recent paper by David Berger, Kyle Herkenhoff, and Simon Mongey, “Labor Market Power.” On the empirics, they conclude: “Our theory implies that this declining labor market concentration increase labor’s share of income by 2.89 percentage points between 1976 and 2014, suggesting that labor market concentration is not the reason for a declining labor share.” So the paper makes no one happy (good!): monopsony is significant, but has been declining in import.
Students who happen to be assigned classes in one of four required subjects during the semester when they’re supposed to pick a major are twice as likely to major in the assigned subject, according to a new working paper from Pope, and Richard Patterson and Aaron Feudo of the U.S. Military Academy.
This held true regardless of how well a student did or how much they liked the course, according to the economists’ analysis of U.S. Military Academy class data from 2001 to 2015. Their database included grades, class times and students’ opinions of the course. It allowed them to control for factors such as students’ hometowns and racial backgrounds.
“Small and seemingly unimportant things can really have a large impact on people’s life decisions,” Pope said. Often students cite a specific class or teacher as justification for this life-altering choice.
In a related paper, the economists, along with Carnegie Mellon’s Kareem Haggag, showed students are about 10 percent less likely to major in a subject if they took a class at 7:30 a.m. Likewise, as students grow more fatigued during the day they grow about 10 percent less likely to major in the subject covered by each successive class…
Given how easily a first choice of major can be swayed by accidents of timing and environment, it’s perhaps not surprising that 37 percent of students eventually switch, according to a new paper from University of Memphis economists Carmen Astorne-Figari and Jamin D. Speer that will be published in the journal Economics of Education Review…
Students with lower GPAs are more likely to leave their major. But so are women of all ability levels. In contrast, men are more likely to drop out instead of sticking around and trying a different subject, according to a study published last year by Astorne-Figari and Speer.
Both men and women are most likely to abandon majors in the sciences. In addition, education and philosophy appear in the top five majors men leave most frequently, while women are more likely to leave computer science…
Students tend to switch to less competitive majors.
On net, business, social sciences and economics tend to gain the most students from major switching, while biology, computer science and medicine (medical and health services) tend to lose the most.