Results for “robert fogel”
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Robert Fogel is optimistic about China

In 2040, the Chinese economy will reach $123 trillion, or nearly three
times the output of the entire globe in the year 2000, despite the
influence of several potential political and economic constraints. 
India’s economy will also continue to grow, although significant
constraints (both political and economic) will keep it from reaching
China’s levels.  The projected decline of the EU15’s global share of GDP
means that Asia will be poised to take up the role of promoting liberal
democracy across the globe.

We also are told that the Chinese market in 2040 will probably be
larger than the combined markets of the U.S., EU15, India, and Japan. 
Chinese per capita income will be $85,000, more than twice the forecast
for the EU15.

Here is the paper.  Fogel does argue for his conclusions.  His main point is that simple extrapolation of human capital trends, namely China’s potential for more higher education, and further shifts out of agricultural labor, will get the country most of the way there.   He also argues that after 25 years of 8-10 percent growth, massive bankruptcies are unlikely.  Chinese leaders have, in Fogel’s view, a good strategy for the devolution of power and the co-optation of elites.

If you wish to be brought back to earth, here are my views on the future of China.  I believe it is the only time I have ever used the phrase "business cycle burp" in my writings.  But sadly, Yana and I have yet to make it to Shanghai.  Now that she has graduated from high school, I am hopeful we will get there…

Interview with Robert Fogel

When I graduated from college, I had two job offers.  One was from my father, to join him in the meat-packing business.  That would have been quite lucrative. The other was as an activist for a left-wing youth organization.  I chose the latter and worked as an activist from 1948 to 1956.  At the time I was making that decision, my father told me: “If you really believe in that cause, come work with me.  You will make a much higher wage and you could give your extra income to hire several people instead of just yourself.”  I thought, well, that makes some sense.  But I was convinced that this was a way to get me to change my views or at least lessen my commitment to an ideological cause that I found very important.  Yes, the first year, I might give all of my extra money to the movement, but every year I would probably give less, and finally reach the point when I was giving nothing at all.  I feared I would be co-opted. I thought this was my father’s way of indoctrinating me.

Here is much more; he mentions Simon Kuznets as the economist who influenced him most and talks of his forthcoming book of interviews with economists.

Assorted links

1. Nick Rowe on Japan and interest rates, and he asks whether Japan is already dead.

2. Parlor game, island, Japanese Chamber of Commerce, stir and mix.

3. Eichengreen essay on Robert Fogel (jstor).

4. The culture that is Vietnam: festival of killing inner insects, and TNR resurrects its “Plank Blog.”

5. Dan Drezner on Albert Hirschman.

6. Turkish Jugaad, and basketball in an arbitrage economy.

7. Disputes over the economic benefits of the human genome project, be careful not to measure inputs!

What I’ve been reading

1. Among Others, by Jo Walton.  I loved this book.  It won a Nebula Award, but is more about the power of books than being a work of science fiction per se.

2. Frances Ashcroft, The Spark of Life: Electricity in the Human Body.  One of the remaining popular science topics which has not been exhausted by popular books and so this volume is both instructive and entertaining and comes across as fresh.

3. James C. Scott, Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity, Meaningful Work and Play.  He really is an anarchist, left-wing at that, but I couldn’t quite find a central core here, much as I admire his other books.

4. Derek S. Hoff, The State and the Stork: The Population Debate and Policy Making in US History.  Good survey of early 20th century debates on population and birth rates and eugenics; these topics are making a comeback.

5. Roger Scruton, How to Think Seriously About the Planet: The Case for an Environmental Conservatism.  I like Elinor Ostrom as much as the next guy, and this book is well-written, but I am not persuaded by the argument that environmental issues fundamentally can be handled on a local level.  At least a few important ones cannot.

Also of note are:

6. Political Arithmetic: Simon Kuznets and the Empirical Tradition in Economics, by Robert Fogel, Enid Fogel, Mark Guglielmo, and Nathaniel Grotte.

7. Gary B. Gorton, Misunderstanding Financial Crises: Why We Don’t See Them Coming.

*From Poverty to Prosperity* watch

That's the title of the new and self-recommending book by Arnold Kling and Nick Schulz.  This work has text by the authors, interspersed with interviews with famous economists, including Robert Fogel, Robert Solow, Joel Mokyr, Doug North, Bill Easterly, Edmund Phelps, Amar Bhide, William Lewis, and Bill Baumol.  Here is Paul Romer:

It's the kind of culture that can tolerate rap music and extreme sports that can also create space for guys like Page and Brin and Google.  That's one of our hidden strengths.

You can buy the book here.  The subtitle is Intangible Assets, Hidden Liabilities and the Lasting Triumph over Scarcity.

In Defense of Mess

When Nobel Laureate and University of Chicago economics professor Robert Fogel found his desk becoming massively piled he simply installed a second desk behind him that now competes in towering clutter with the first.

That is from A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder, by Eric Abramson and David Freedman, an intriguing defense of…um…mess.  Here is my previous post on this topic.

Why are people getting healthier?

The New York Times runs an excellent article.  It is often forgotten how sick people used to be:

[Robert Fogel and colleagues] discovered that almost everyone of the Civil War generation was
plagued by life-sapping illnesses, suffering for decades. And these
were not some unusual subset of American men – 65 percent of the male
population ages 18 to 25 signed up to serve in the Union Army. “They
presumably thought they were fit enough to serve,” Dr. Fogel said.

teenagers were ill. Eighty percent of the male population ages 16 to 19
tried to sign up for the Union Army in 1861, but one out of six was
rejected because he was deemed disabled.

Heart disease rates and even cancer rates (per age cohort, I believe) were higher in times past.

The big question, of course, is why people are so much healthier (or for that matter smarter, see the Flynn Effect).  It seems to be more than just better nutrition and sanitation.  Scientists are focusing on time in the womb plus the first two years of life.  Children born during the 1918 pandemic, for instance, fare much worse later in life in terms of health.  The hypothesis is that the poor health of their mothers programmed them for later troubles.

The Netherlands is a land of giants.  The people look quite healthy, despite high reported rates of disability.  Average height is 6’1" or 6’2".  And the Dutch are growing taller quickly.  Why?  Is it lots of Gouda cheese for Mommy?  The mayonnaise on the french fries?  Do small families play a role?  The Protestants of the northern Netherlands are taller than the Catholics of the south.  And if it is the cycling, are the teenagers in Davis, CA tall as well?

Greg Mankiw’s summer reading list

For his students, that is:

  • Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom
  • Robert Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers
  • Paul Krugman, Peddling Prosperity
  • Steven Landsburg, The Armchair Economist
  • P.J. O’Rourke, Eat the Rich
  • Burton Malkiel, A Random Walk Down Wall Street
  • Avinash Dixit and Barry Nalebuff, Thinking Strategically
  • Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, Freakonomics
  • John McMillan, Reinventing the Bazaar
  • William Breit and Barry T. Hirsch, Lives of the Laureates

Very good picks, and here is the link.  How about a book on globalization (Martin Wolf) or economic development (John Kay)?  How about a book on China (????) or economic history (Robert Fogel)?

Addendum: Here is Arnold Kling’s addendum.

Economic growth and diet

…at that time [eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries] food constituted between 50 and 75 percent of the expenditures of laboring families…however…the energy value of the typical diet in France at the start of the eighteenth century was as low as that of Rwanda in 1965, the most malnourished nation for that year in the tables of the World Bank. England’s supply of food per capita exceeded that of France by several hundred calories but was still exceedingly low by current standards. Indeed, as late as 1850, the English availability of calories hardly matched the current Indian level.

Not surprisingly, meat was not a major source of calories in earlier times.

One implication of these low-level diets needs to be stressed: Even prime-age males had only a meager amount of energy available for work.

And get this:

…the average efficiency of the human engine in Britain increased by about 53 percent between 1790 and 1980. The combined effect of the increase in dietary energy available for work, and of the increased human efficiency in transforming dietary energy into work output, appears to account for about 50 percent of the British economic growth since 1790.

Keep all that in mind next time you despair about the modern world. The data and quotation are from Robert Fogel’s The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death.

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