Category: Data Source

USA facts of the day

A survey of almost 200 police departments indicated that retirements were up 45 percent and resignations rose by 18 percent in the year from April 2020 to April 2021 when compared with the previous 12 months, according to the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington policy institute.

New York City saw 2,600 officers retire in 2020 compared with 1,509 the year before. Resignations in Seattle increased to 123 from 34 and retirements to 96 from 43. Minneapolis, which had 912 uniformed officers in May 2019, is now down to 699. At the same time, many cities are contending with a rise in shootings and homicides.

Asheville was among the hardest hit proportionally, losing upward of 80 officers, more than one third of its 238-strong force.

Here is more from Neil MacFarquhar at the NYT.

Racial segregation is increasing in many parts of America

Some of the nation’s largest metropolitan regions have become increasingly segregated in the last 30 years, underscoring racial inequalities that have led to poorer life outcomes in Black and brown neighborhoods, according to a study released Monday by the University of California Berkeley’s Othering & Belonging Institute.

The study found that 81% of regions with more than 200,000 residents were more segregated in 2019 than they were in 1990, despite fair housing laws and policies created to promote integration.

Some of the most segregated areas included Chicago, Milwaukee and Detroit in the Midwest and New York, northern New Jersey and Philadelphia in the mid-Atlantic.

Conversely, large metropolitan regions that saw the biggest decrease in segregation included Savannah, Georgia, San Antonio and Miami.

Here is the full story, exactly as I argued in my earlier book The Complacent Class.  Via Ilya Novak.  And from the study, don’t forget this:

Southern states have lower overall levels of segregation, and the Mountain West and Plains states have the least


The looks gap in earnings

…the magnitude of the earnings disparities along the perceived attractiveness continuum, net of controls, rivals and/or exceeds in magnitude the black-white race gap and, among African-Americans, the black-white race gap and the gender gap in earnings.

Here is the full paper.  Here is an earlier MR post on lookism, and here.  Two points are worth making here:

1. It is often the educated (and often left-wing) coastal elite that commits the most lookism and also enforces it through internal norms of dress, thinness, etc..  Yet they are so desperate to believe they are better people than competing white interest groups (amazing how unself-aware they are about how obvious this is) that they just don’t want to bring looksism to your attention.  Upon presentation, this will receive the “yes, that’s bad too” treatment, and then it won’t be talked about any more.  Looksism will continue unabated, and indeed it may intensify as some other isms decline.

2. It is worth keeping this information in mind when trying to hire people or find untapped sources of talent.

Via the handsome Kevin Lewis.

The best mask-wearing study so far?

Mask-wearing has been a controversial measure to control the COVID-19 pandemic. While masks are known to substantially reduce disease transmission in healthcare settings (Howard et al 2021), studies in community settings report inconsistent results (Brainard et al 2020). Investigating the inconsistency within epidemiological studies, we find that a commonly used proxy, government mask mandates, does not correlate with large increases in mask-wearing in our window of analysis. We thus analyse the effect of mask-wearing on transmission instead, drawing on several datasets covering 92 regions on 6 continents, including the largest survey of individual-level wearing behaviour (n=20 million) (Kreuter et al 2020). Using a hierarchical Bayesian model, we estimate the effect of both mask-wearing and mask-mandates on transmission by linking wearing levels (or mandates) to reported cases in each region, adjusting for mobility and non-pharmaceutical interventions. We assess the robustness of our results in 123 experiments across 22 sensitivity analyses. Across these analyses, we find that an entire population wearing masks in public leads to a median reduction in the reproduction number R of 25.8%, with 95% of the medians between 22.2% and 30.9%. In our window of analysis, the median reduction in $R$ associated with the wearing level observed in each region was 20.4% [2.0%, 23.3%]. We do not find evidence that mandating mask-wearing reduces transmission. Our results suggest that mask-wearing is strongly affected by factors other than mandates. We establish the effectiveness of mass mask-wearing, and highlight that wearing data, not mandate data, are necessary to infer this effect.

That is a new paper by Gavin Leech,, recommended.  And here is the tweet storm version of the paper.

Workers aren’t coming back

Data released by the Labor Department this morning show that last month, 61.6 percent of the working-age population were active in the labor force, either working in jobs or looking for them. That is essentially unchanged from the summer of 2020.

The second most significant statistic is that wages are soaring. In May, average wages grew at a 6.1 percent annual rate. In April, they grew at an 8.7 percent annual rate.

Combined, these two statistics tell much of the story of the economy this spring: Employers are boosting wage offers in order to attract and retain workers, who are increasingly difficult to attract and retain. This is a situation you’d expect with employers’ demand for workers growing much faster than workers are returning to the labor market. Labor demand is booming, and labor supply is not keeping up.

Here is more from Michael Strain.

Whose big business? (Europe fact of the day)

In 2000 nearly a third of the combined value of the world’s 1,000 biggest listed firms was in Europe, and a quarter of their profits. In just 20 years those figures have fallen by almost half. Europe is a place for companies such as Amazon and TikTok to find customers, not a base for local firms to conquer the world…

Of the world’s 142 listed firms worth over $100bn, 43 were set up from scratch in the past half-century, 27 in America and ten in China. Only one was in Europe: sap, a German software group founded in 1972. Half of Europe’s richest ten billionaires inherited fortunes spawned long ago; in America nine of the top ten are wealthy solely because of companies they founded.

Here is more from The Economist.  This is all the more reason for the United States to boost allowed emigration from the European Union.  It is also an object lesson in which are the true barriers to trade, often including language, culture, and national borders, even in the presence of (nearly) free trade.

Is the second-cheapest wine a rip-off?

The standard economic analysis of product-line pricing by Mussa and Rosen (1978) implies that higher-quality varieties command higher absolute mark-ups. It is widely claimed that this property does not apply to wine lists. Restaurateurs are believed to overprice the second-cheapest wine to exploit naïve diners embarrassed to choose the cheapest option. This paper investigates which view is correct. We find that the mark-up on the second cheapest wine is significantly below that on the four next more expensive wines. It is an urban myth that the second-cheapest wine is an especially bad buy. Percentage mark-ups are highest on mid-range wines. This is consistent with the profit-maximising pricing of a vertically differentiated product line with no behavioral elements, although other factors may contribute to the price pattern.

That is from a new paper by David de Meza and Vikram Pathania, via The Browser (which is worth paying for).

Population predicts regulation — but why?

We found that across states, a doubling of population size is associated with a 22 to 33 percent increase in regulation.

The relationship between regulation and population is surprisingly robust- it also holds for Australian states and Canadian provinces, and based on the limited data we have seems to hold across countries too (for instance, the “free market” United States has 10 times as many regulations as Canada- just as it has 10 times the population).

What is less clear is why this relationship is so strong. Mulligan and Shleifer attribute it to a fixed cost of regulating; larger polities can spread this cost over more people, making the average cost of regulating cheaper, so they do it more. We note two other explanations: larger polities might have more externalities worth regulating, or if regulation produces concentrated benefits and dispersed costs, a larger population could make it harder for those harmed by regulation to organize collectively to oppose it.

That blog post is based on work from James Bailey, James Broughel and Patrick McLaughlin, the latter two my Mercatus colleagues, written by James Bailey.

The relationship between religious, civil, and economic freedoms

From Christos Makridis:

This paper studies the relationship between religious liberty and economic freedom. First, three new facts emerge: (a) religious liberty has increased since 1960, but has slipped substantially over the past decade; (b) the countries that experienced the largest declines in religious liberty tend to have greater economic freedom, especially property rights; (c) changes in religious liberty are associated with changes in the allocation of time to religious activities. Second, using a combination of vector autoregressions and dynamic panel methods, improvements in religious liberty tend to precede economic freedom. Finally, increases in religious liberty have a wide array of spillovers that are important determinants of economic freedom and explain the direction of causality. Countries cannot have long-run economic prosperity and freedom without actively allowing for and promoting religious liberty.

Via the excellent Kevin Lewis.

Born to be Managers?

The paper’s subtitle is “Genetic Links between Risk-Taking and the Likelihood of Holding Managerial Positions.”  It is hard for me to verify or assess this kind of result, but I pass it along for its interest:

Do genes determine who will become managers? Using the UK Biobank data, we study the phenotypic and genetic correlations between the likelihood of holding managerial positions and physical, cognitive, and mental health traits (n = 297,591). Among all traits we examine, general risk tolerance and risky behaviors (e.g., automobile speeding and the number of sexual partners) have the strongest phenotypic and genetic correlations with holding managerial positions. For example, the genetic correlation between automobile speeding and being managers is 0.39 (P = 3.94E-16). Additionally, the genetic correlations between risk-taking traits and being managers are stronger for females. Genome-wide association study (GWAS) shows holding managerial positions is associated with rs7035099 (ZNF618, 9q32), which has been linked to risk tolerance and adventurousness. Overall, our results suggest individuals with risk-taking-related genes are more likely to become managers. To the best of our knowledge, this paper is the first GWAS of the genetic effects on leadership.

That is from a new paper by Jinjie Lin and Bingxin Zhao.  Via a loyal MR reader.

From the Department of Underappreciated Facts

Career earnings growth in the U.S. more than doubled between 1960 and 2017, and the age of peak earnings increased from the late 30s to the mid-50s. I show that a substantial share of this shift is explained by increased employment in decision-intensive occupations, which have longer and more gradual periods of earnings growth…Experience takes longer to accumulate in high variance, non-routine jobs.

That is from a new working paper by David J. Deming.  One implication is that AI leads to lots of angry, frustrated, left-wing young people, and a cementing in of the gerontocracy.

The gender confidence gap in economics

From Heather Sarsons and Guo Xu, in the new AEA Papers and Proceedings:

Women are 7.3 percentage points less likely to provide extreme judgments (column 1). In terms of magnitude, this gap is economically large. Compared to the mean of the dependent vari-able (19.8 percent), this corresponds to a gap of 36 percent. The gap is somewhat smaller for the self-reported confidence level but still nontrivial (column 3). On average, women tend to report a confidence score that is 0.221 points lower than men. This corresponds to a gap of 4 percent when evaluated against the mean...

The results show that both men and women are less confident when asked questions outside of their field but that a confidence gap persists. For example, while men are 5 percentage points less likely to give an extreme answer when speaking on a topic out-side of their primary field, women are 9.2 percentage points less likely to do so (column 1). For the measure of confidence, men are on average 0.585 points less confident when speaking on a topic outside their primary field (column 2). Once again, that confidence gap is significantly larger for women. We would expect women to be less confident than men when answering questions outside of their field if women actually have a narrower range of expertise than men do. The results, however, do not change when we control for the respondents’ breadth of expertise using RePEc data and allow breadth to vary by gender. More importantly, accounting for the differential confidence when moving beyond one’s own field “explains away” the level effect of gender.

it appears that the confidence gap emerges when women are speaking on topics on which they might be less informed.

I would be curious to see if similar results hold for bloggers (blog commenters?) and Op-Ed writers, or whether it is “the Margaret Thatcher syndrome” at work.