Results for “robert fogel”
19 found

Good news: your children will be slackers

The concept of discretionary time is what you have left after sleeping, eating, and a minimum of personal hygiene:

…contrary to much of public opinion, the lifetime discretionary hours spent earning a living have declined by about one-third over the past century…In 1880 four-fifths of discretionary time was spent earning a living. Today, the lion’s share (59) percent is spent doing what we like. Moreover, it appears probable that by 2040, close to 75 percent of discretionary time will be spent doing what we like, despite a further substantial increase in discretionary time due to the continuing extension of the life span.

That is from Robert Fogel’s The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death.

Which countries face a medical cost crunch?

China, in short:

…health costs will rise more rapidly as a percentage of national income among Third World nations that are now entering into modern economic growth than has been the case in OECD countries…

The supply of chronic conditions that require treatment is much greater at middle and late ages in China than the supply that currently exists in OECD nations…a [previous] low life expectancy and such a high infant death rate mean that those who survived to middle ages experienced severe biomedical and socioeconomic insults in utero, in infancy, and in later developmental stages…Despite the rapid advances in public health and strong economic growth, the negative conditions that influenced physiological development remained severe into the early 1960s…such early-life insults reduce the waiting time to the onset of chronic diseases at later ages and increase their severity.

Consequently, individuals who are age 50 and older in China today will have far higher prevalence rates of chronic diseases than is the case in OECD nations.

That is all from Robert Fogel’s short but excellent The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700-2100.

It is estimated that the number of chronic diseases per person could be triple than currently experienced in the United States; the level in China would be comparable to that of the U.S. in about 1900. At that time the average American male suffered from six chronic medical conditions, and it was very likely that at least one of those six was debilitating, meaning the person could not work.

The bottom line: Expect China to experience some serious demographic problems in the coming decades.

That was then, this is now, rent control vs. building deregulation edition

By early 1919 many New Yorkers — even many who held that the long-term solution to the housing problem was “to build more homes and build them now” — had come to believe that neither private enterprise nor public authority could do much to alleviate the housing shortage in the near future.  From this belief it was only a short step to the conclusion that the state legislature had to take action to stop the city’s rapacious landlords from raising the rent…

Here you will find a recent WSJ article (or read this ungated) about municipalities once again turning to rent control…

The above passage is from the highly useful and deeply comprehensive The Great Rent Wars: New York, 1917-1929, by Robert M. Fogelson.  Note that back then both rent control and “building more” won.  As for today, Megan has a relevant column.

*The Changing Body*

The authors are Roderick Floud, Nobel Laureate Robert W. Fogel, Bernard Harris, and Sok Chul Hong, and the subtitle is Health, Nutrition, and Human Development in the Western World since 1700.  Here is one key sentence:

Chronically malnourished populations of Europe universally responded to food constraints by varying body size.

You can write an important and fascinating 400-page book around that sentence, although it will not hold the attention of all readers.  Here is a good summary article (1/20) on the book.  Here is another excerpt:

Even if it is assumed that the daily number of calories available for work was the same in the United States in 1860 as today, the intensity of work per hour would have been well below today’s levels, since the average number of hours worked in 1860 was 1.75 times as great as today.  During the mid nineteenth century, only slaves on southern gang-system plantations appear to have worked at levels of intensity per hour approaching current standards.

It is interesting to read the authors’ estimates of wage growth from 1750 to about 1820.  Some estimates suggest zero growth, while a more optimistic study shows that in Great Britain real wages rose about 12.5 percent between 1770 and 1818, and that was during the Industrial Revolution or should that be “during the so-called Industrial Revolution”?  Read this piece by Charles Feinstein; the standard of living for the average working class family increased by only 15 percent from the 1780s to the 1850s.  Here is an ungated paper with similar results.  Great Stagnation-like phenomena are not new and as Arnold Kling noted recently, theories of technological unemployment may yet make a comeback.

Here are two blue-footed boobies.

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