Archive: The Dismal Science 2012

Healthy food subsidies

Eric Crampton Feb 03, 2016

What happens when you give shoppers a discount on healthy food? Not very much, according to a new field study by Cawley, Hanks, Just and Wansink. Their mechanism was neat. Shoppers’ purchases at a supermarket were tracked via loyalty card; participating households also received a debit card. Depending on the treatment group, they either got a 10% rebate on … Read More


Charging for official information

Michael Reddell Jan 26, 2016

Debate over the Reserve Bank’s new charging policy has continued.  Under a heading “The perils of user-pays democracy” Bryce Edwards had a nice summary of the articles and commentaries that had appeared by late last week.   And since then the flow has continued –  including a Rob Hosking piece in NBR, a Dominion-Post article about, and interview … Read More


OIA: changes in RB practice and in law needed

Michael Reddell Jan 19, 2016

Just before Christmas, I drew attention to the Reserve Bank’s new policy of charging for Official Information Act requests.   At the time, this paragraph appeared on the Bank’s website. The Reserve Bank has a policy of charging for information provided in response to Official Information requests when the chargeable time taken to provide the information exceeds one hour, … Read More

Netflix zones

Eric Crampton Jan 19, 2016

A few points on the threatened Netflix crackdown on geo-unblocking: Whether Netflix turns a blind eye to geo-unblockers is a matter for them to discuss with the content producers selling them the licenses for different regions. It is totally fine for Netflix to check whether its users are breaking the terms of their licenses and to decide whether to enforce those terms. Read More

Drinking culture

Eric Crampton Jan 18, 2016

Anne Fox last year released a report on drinking culture in Australia and New Zealand. She’s an anthropologist who’d previously looked at drinking behaviour; Lion commissioned her to have a look at New Zealand and Australia. I’d covered her report here. You can hear her chat on RNZ’s Sunday programme from last year here. Fox talked … Read More

I’m addicted to Mexican soda

Eric Crampton Jan 11, 2016

Ok, maybe not.* But I’ve been having to read through some of the studies on the effects of Mexico’s soda tax. Chris Snowdon points to a new one in the BMJ. They run a panel fixed effect analysis using Nielson household consumption data looking to see whether consumption of taxed and untaxed beverages changed after the imposition of … Read More


Uber Uber

Eric Crampton Dec 16, 2015

Well, the Ministry of Transport proposals around Uber could have been worse. This week’s white paper produced two preferred options. The first would place requirements on drivers; the second, on transport operators. The National Business Review asked me for comment on the proposals; here’s what I told them. “The government’s approach to taxicab regulation intends to avoid risks where … Read More


Eric Crampton Dec 14, 2015

It’s possible, in theory, that a preference ballot like that used in the NZ flag referendum could fail to select a Condorcet winner. In that case, a flag that’s the strong second choice of many but the first choice of few is killed in the early rounds and so is not able to pick up the second-choice transfers as … Read More

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