The Dismal Science

Otago and disagreement

Eric Crampton May 11, 2018

Every time I think that the University of Otago’s Public Health people can’t get any worse, they go and surprise me. Today, the Initiative launched Jenesa Jeram’s excellent report on vaping and reduced-harm alternatives to smoking. It walks through the evidence on the risks of vaping, heat-not-burn products, and snus, and makes some recommendations around liberalising access so that … Read More

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Crowding out

Eric Crampton May 10, 2018

You should always worry at least a bit about whether a government programme crowds out some other private sector initiative. A state-provided daycare centre could crowd out existing private providers. A welfare programme could crowd out existing charitable programmes. And government house-building schemes could crowd out private development. The mechanism for crowding out is simple if you spend a few … Read More

A generous subsidy that pays off?

Michael Reddell May 10, 2018

Reading the Herald over lunch, I chanced upon a story under the headline $50m PhD subsidy pays off.   That is the $50 million per annum subsidy put in place more than a decade ago that allows foreign PhD students to study at domestic fees (apparently a saving for them for more than $30,000 per annum each), allows full domestic … Read More

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Mind the gap

Donal Curtin May 09, 2018

We’ve been lucky, over the past year, to see two top-notch, data-heavy analyses of the gender pay gap appear in New Zealand. One, from March last year, is by AUT’s Gail Pacheco, ‘Empirical evidence of the gender pay gap in New Zealand’, and was done for the Ministry for Women. The other, also last year, was by … Read More

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Publication Bias

Eric Crampton May 03, 2018

We’ve known about the problems of publication bias at least since 1992. If it’s easier to get statistically significant results published than insignificant results, then there are whole literatures that become untrustworthy. Andrea Menclova at Canterbury is doing something about it. This has been a while in the making – we were talking about it when I was still at … Read More

Electoral lists – a simple recommendation

Eric Crampton Apr 30, 2018

The Electoral Commission is worried that its published electoral lists – the list of each voter and that voter’s address – could be misused. From Bryce Edwards’ summary: Currently there is almost a “free for all” in the use of printed electoral roll data. All sorts of companies, such as debt collectors and marketers make use of the printed … Read More

World War One and the New Zealand economy

Michael Reddell Apr 25, 2018

Earlier this week, in the lead up to ANZAC Day today, The Treasury drew attention to an interesting conference paper written a few years ago by Brian Easton on “The impact of the Great War on the New Zealand economy”.   From the opposite end of the political spectrum, Eric Crampton described it as “really great”.  I’m not … Read More

Now you see it

Donal Curtin Apr 25, 2018

You want to buy a widget. Bugsy’s has the model you want, it’s $6. Malone’s also sells it, for $5. You may not know Malone’s got it cheaper, so you end up paying a dollar too much at Bugsy’s. But suppose Bugsy’s and Malone’s are required by the Prevent-A-Widget-Ripoff Authority to post their prices online?  With a moment’s search you … Read More

Opinion: Precious arable land

Eric Crampton Apr 23, 2018

I just don’t get the fixation with making sure that nobody builds a house on agricultural land. The government plans to make it harder for councils to approve new homes and lifestyle blocks on productive land near urban areas. A report out today, called Our Land 2018, shows New Zealand’s urban sprawl is eating up some of the … Read More