The Dismal Science

Confidence in the Vice Chancellor

Eric Crampton Sep 19, 2018

In a prior life, I was on Academic Board at the University of Canterbury as Economics Department representative. The meetings were usually tedious. Much of the point seemed to be to provide a forum for people to air their grievances so they could feel they were listened to, but without consequence. There’d usually be somebody who’d make a five-minute speech … Read More

Recycled rubbish

Michael Reddell Sep 15, 2018

That’s the title of my former colleague Ian Harrison’s response to the government’s consultative document on getting rid of (some types of) plastic bags.  The consultation itself closed yesterday, but nobody supposes the consultation itself was remotely serious –  the irrational ban is going to happen anyway.  Having dug fairly deeply into the material used to support/underpin the consultative … Read More

Not-so-sweet advice

Eric Crampton Sep 14, 2018

Imagine that you were the Chief Science Adviser for a Ministry. You need to produce a short briefing note to the new government for some issue in your Ministry’s remit. Your Ministry had, just a couple weeks earlier, released a comprehensive report on the topic that your Ministry had commissioned from a top economics consultancy. Your Ministry had had the … Read More

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Regulation done right

Donal Curtin Sep 06, 2018

From overseas I’ve caught up with the news that the Telecommunications Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale has decided not to deregulate the market for national mobile roaming. The current regime (summarising a bit) is that the incumbent mobile network operators (Spark, Vodafone, 2degrees) have to provide wholesale network access to any serious new entrants. That way the new entrant is … Read More

Vacancy rates

Eric Crampton Sep 03, 2018

Sitting at my desk in Wellington, it’s easier for me to tell you the housing rental market vacancy rate for any city in Canada than it is for me to tell you the rental market vacancy rate anywhere in New Zealand, Wellington included. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC – a government outfit) has stats on the vacancy … Read More

Non-serious students, one serious problem

Eric Crampton Aug 29, 2018

John Gerritsen at RNZ picks up last week’s NBER study on how the PISA rankings would change were students to take the test more seriously and rounds up some local reaction: Michael Johnston, senior lecturer in education at Victoria University, said the study’s assumption that New Zealand students were not trying hard enough if they left questions unanswered … Read More

Low stakes PISA

Eric Crampton Aug 24, 2018

New Zealand’s low PISA rank seems, in part, due to Kiwi students not taking the test very seriously. Akyol, Krishna and Wang develop a measure checking whether a student is taking the PISA test seriously (leaving questions blank while having time left, for example), and see whether it affects country rankings compared to simulations where children take the test … Read More

A simple landfill calculation

Eric Crampton Aug 21, 2018

That this one comes up so often speaks poorly of our basic numeracy and sense of scale. There’s basically no chance that landfills expand to take up any substantial part of the country. This is the kind of back-of-the-envelope thing that everybody should be able to do in their head. Kate Valley services Christchurch. It has 1000 hectares … Read More

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Plastic bags

Michael Reddell Aug 13, 2018

There is a reason why we do not let primary school children make policy or vote.  They are children, precious and growing but prone to all the enthusiasms of children, easily influenced, and not responsible (as taxpayers or anything else) for their expressed preferences.   And yet, as the Prime Minister was reported, it seemed that the fact that lots … Read More