The Dismal Science

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

Bag Ban: read the appendix

Eric Crampton Aug 13, 2018

The Ministry for the Environment’s consultation document on banning plastic bags is out. The key table, or at least the most interesting table, is in the appendix. It shows, from a Danish study, the number of times a reusable shopping bag would have to be reused to have less environmental impact than current disposable bags. Source: Ministry for … Read More

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Net-zero carbon emissions: a “massive economic boost”?

Michael Reddell Aug 06, 2018

James Shaw, co-leader of the Green Party and Minister for Climate Change (surely Minister against it?), tells us he is working his way through 15000 submissions on the recent climate change consultation document.  I’ve done a couple of posts here on the document, and on the NZIER modelling used extensively in it, and I’ve chided both the Minister … Read More

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Alcohol in pregnancy stats

Eric Crampton Aug 01, 2018

Radio New Zealand reports on a new iteration of the Growing Up in New Zealand study looking at maternal alcohol use during pregnancy. I have been unable to find the cited study, so we’ll go with RNZ’s reporting for now: The lead researcher of a new study that has found nearly a quarter of women drink alcohol during the … Read More

Tobacco harm reduction

Eric Crampton Jul 24, 2018

It’s great that the Ministry of Health’s latest Health and Independence Report points to the benefits of vaping. But there’s still work to do here.  The report notes that smoking is most prevalent in poorer communities and that while smoking rates have been declining, there’s no way that current trends get the government to its preferred <5% smoking rates … Read More