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Miles Kimball

Miles Kimball

Miles Kimball is Professor of Economics and Survey Research at the University of Michigan. Politically, Miles is an independent who grew up in an apolitical family. He holds many strong opinions—open to revision in response to cogent arguments—that do not line up neatly with either the Republican or Democratic Party.

Articles by Miles Kimball

The Prevalue Function

3 days ago

Despite aggressive self-promotion of my back-catalog of blog posts, I have been relatively slow to promote my academic papers on my blog. I will make an effort to right that imbalance by sprinkling in some blog posts about my academic papers. By the way, while I give my blog tender-loving care constantly, I make very little effort to tend my university websites. The go-to source for my academic career (including my CV) is not any of my university websites, but this post, which I keep updated. Also, see my blog bio at the link right under the blog banner and motto.My paper “The Effect of Uncertainty on Optimal Control Models in the

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Rebecca Diamond: What Does Economics Evidence Tell Us about the Effects of Rent Control?

4 days ago

Steadily rising housing rents in many of the US’s large, productive cities have reignited the discussion whether to expand or enact rent control provisions. Under pressure to fight rising rents, state lawmakers in Illinois, Oregon, and California are considering repealing laws that limit cities’ abilities to pass or expand rent control. While rules and regulations of rent control vary from place to place, most rent control consists of caps on price increases within the duration of a tenancy, and sometimes beyond the duration of a tenancy, as well as restrictions on eviction.
New research examining how rent control affects tenants and housing markets offers insight into how rent control affects markets. While rent control appears to help current tenants in the short run, in the

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How Important is A1 Milk Protein as a Public Health Issue?

5 days ago

Advertising my post “Exorcising the Devil in the Milk,” I received a challenge and a question on Twitter from @kitchenslut. The Challenge:Look. I don’t disagree but find there is a trend that among academically minded professionals economists are more likely to be converted to diet evangelism.My view here is that it is a bad idea to trust any single academic discipline with any important scientific question. Every important scientific question should have at least two different academic disciplines thinking about it. For issues of diet and health, I hope that economics can be an additional discipline providing a cross-check on the science

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Marc F. Bellemare: Identification by Functional Form

6 days ago

One of the things I often tell students when discussing whether to use linear regression or a more complicated nonlinear (i.e., maximum likelihood-based) procedure is that one advantage of linear regression is that it prevents identification by functional form.
By “identification via functional form,” what I mean is that the distributional or functional form assumptions made in the context of more complicated nonlinear procedures can lead you to estimate a coefficient which is purely identified because of those distributional or functional form assumptions.
I always had a hard time clearly explaining the intuition behind this, until my colleague Arne Henningsen, with whom I co-taught my advanced econometrics class at the University of Copenhagen, gave a really good example to the

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Kenneth W. Phifer: The Faith of a Humanist

7 days ago

When I left Mormonism for the Unitarian Universalism in 2000, Ken Phifer was the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He gave beautiful sermons. I am grateful for his permission to reprint one of them here. (You will find links to some of my own UU sermons here.) Below are Ken’s words. I am a humanist. l agree with Protagoras that "the human is the measure of all things" and with Sophocles that of all the many wonders of the world there is "none so wonderful as the human." I see with Shakespeare what a piece of work is the human being: How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving,

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Oliver Roeder on Fabiano Caruana: The American Chess Grandmaster Who Could Become World Champion

8 days ago

If you ask the people who know Fabiano Caruana what Fabiano Caruana is like, they will tell you that Fabiano Caruana is, you know, just a normal guy.
He likes movies. He likes music. He likes to eat. He works out. He goes on dates.
Just a normal guy.
Just a normal guy who is ranked second in the world in chess. A normal guy who was pulled out of school after seventh grade to do nothing but play the ancient and intricate game. A normal guy who is a hairbreadth away from prying the No. 1 position loose from probably the best player ever to play the game. A normal guy who, beginning Friday, will sit down at a table in London with this probably-the-best-ever player, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, in a grueling, weeks-long battle for the world championship of chess. A normal guy who could be

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Maia Szalavitz—Income Inequality’s Most Disturbing Side Effect: Homicide

9 days ago

Income inequality can cause all kinds of problems across the economic spectrum—but perhaps the most frightening is homicide. Inequality—the gap between a society’s richest and poorest—predicts murder rates better than any other variable, according to Martin Daly, a professor emeritus of psychology at McMaster University in Ontario, who has studied this connection for decades. It is more tightly tied to murder than straightforward poverty, for example, or drug abuse. And research conducted for the World Bank finds that both between and within countries, about half the variance in murder rates can be accounted for by looking at the most common measure of inequality, which is known as the Gini coefficient.

The murders most associated with inequality, it seems, are driven by a perceived lack

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William Strauss and Neil Howe’s American Prophecy in ‘The Fourth Turning: What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny’

10 days ago

Ever since I read it, one of the books I find myself thinking about most often when I think about current events is The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe. We often talk about the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and now Gen Z. Thinking of different generations as having different attitudes owes a lot to Neil Howe and William Strauss’s book “Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069.” (On Wikipedia, Neil Howe is described as an “author, historian and consultant” while William Strauss is described as an “author, historian, playwright, theater director, and lecturer.”)In their 1997 book

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The Scholar’s Stage: Why Is the Fight for Free Speech Led by the Psychologists?

11 days ago

Image Source
DR. STOCKMANN: It’s my own fault. I should have faced them down long ago—shown my teeth—and bite back! Call me an enemy of society! So help me God, I’m not going to swallow that! MRS. STOCKMANN: But Thomas dear, your brother does have the power— DR. STOCKMANN: Yes, but I’m in the right! MRS. STOCKMANN: The right? Ah… what does it help to be in the right if you don’t have any power?

—Henrik Ibsen, Enemy of the People (1882)
 On twitter, Jeffrey Sachs presents a puzzle:

Here’s a puzzle I think about a lot. If any academic field is associated with the contemporary debate surrounding free speech, it’s psychology. Haidt, Pinker, Peterson, Saad, Jussim, even Lehmann. All specialize or have backgrounds in academic psych. So what’s the puzzle?

If psychology has any core

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My Annual Anti-Cancer Fast

12 days ago

By (Image: Lance Liotta Laboratory) – Cancer-Causing Genes Can Convert Even the Most Committed Cells. PLoS Biology Vol. 3/8/2005, e276 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030276, CC BY 2.5,

I am in the middle of my annual 7-10 day fast as a cancer prevention measure. I plan to fast until the election is over, which will make it 8 days total. The logic is in my posts linked below in the section on “Anti-Cancer Eating,” especially my post “How Fasting Can Starve Cancer Cells, While Leaving Normal Cells Unharmed.” I first heard of this recommendation of an annual fast—in

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Angie Schmitt: Single-Family Housing Hurts Moms

13 days ago

There’s one problem with the old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”: in modern America, there’s no “village” anymore.
Read almost any current post across the mommy blogosphere and you’ll hear tales of moms who are raising kids isolated from friends and family — and always needing a car to find any community.
Few women specifically cite sprawl and single-family housing in their writing, and there are obviously many culprits for the lack of support modern mothers feel. But the strain of physical separation is often apparent just the same.
Mommy blogger Sara Burrows wrote on her blog Return to Now that she surveyed her stay-at-home mom friends and readers. One in four of them reported having zero interaction with other adults in the typical week. In her essay, notes that

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John Locke: Democracy, Oligarchy, Hereditary Monarchy, Elective Monarchy and Mixed Forms of Government

14 days ago

Image source Exercise: Which form of government was the “Roman Republic”?

Chapter X of John Locke’s 2d Treatise on Government: “Of Civil Government, “Of the Forms of a Commonwealth” is only two sections long— Sections 132 and 133. It simply details different forms of government and their operation from John Lockes’ point of view. The best way I could think of to illuminate this chapter was by providing links to the Wikipedia article for each form of government John Locke mentions. The links are on the labels of each form of government. These Wikipedia articles are fascinating. For good measure, let me also provide

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Planets Abounding: The Accomplishments of the Kepler Space Telescope

15 days ago

NASA’s Kepler space telescope, shown in this artist’s concept, revealed that there are more planets than stars in the Milky Way galaxy. (Courtesy NASA)After nine years in deep space collecting data that indicate our sky to be filled with billions of hidden planets—more planets even than stars—NASA’s Kepler space telescope has run out of fuel needed for further science operations. NASA has decided to retire the spacecraft within its current, safe orbit, away from Earth. Kepler leaves a legacy of more than 2,600 planet discoveries from outside our solar system, many of which could be promising places for life.
“As NASA’s first planet-hunting mission, Kepler has wildly exceeded all our expectations and paved the way for our exploration and search for life in the solar system and beyond,” said

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Mehdi Hasan on the Many Ways Legislation Could Alter the Political Balance in Favor of the Democratic Party

16 days ago

How democratic is the United States? According to a poll released by the bipartisan Democracy Project in June, a clear majority (55 per cent) of Americans consider US democracy to be “weak”, with two-thirds (68 per cent) saying it’s “getting weaker.” Half of Americans believe the nation is in “real danger of becoming a non-democratic, authoritarian country”.

In February, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) classed the United States as a “flawed democracy” for the second year in a row. The US ranked 21st in the EIU’s Democracy Index, behind 20 “full” democracies including Germany, Canada and the UK.

“Popular trust in government, elected representatives, and political parties has fallen to extremely low levels in the US,” the EUI analysts wrote. “This has been a long-term trend and

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The Hidden Cost of Not Having a Carbon Tax

17 days ago

One of the costs of not having a carbon tax is all the energy, air time, moralizing and moral posturing that goes on as a very ineffective alternative to a carbon tax. By taking people’s willingness and desire to be good for this purpose, we may exhaust it for other purposes. G.C. Archibald, in his book Information, Incentives and the Economics of Control, p. 5 writes:We owe to Adam Smith the insight that matters go more smoothly if institutions are such that private and social interests coincide. D. H. Robertson (1956) put it clearly. "What do economists economize on?," he asked. This was not a rhetorical question. His answer was: Love. He

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Antony Mueller: The Trouble with Brazil

18 days ago

Whoever wins the Brazilian presidential election on Sunday, October 28, will face tremendous challenges. The economy is in depression, the unemployment rate is in the double digits, and the fiscal situation is bleak. A sharp polarization has characterized the election campaign. The disapproval of each of the two leading candidates is higher than the support they get from the electorate. In the years to come, the political uncertainties and economic doldrums might not go away.Public corruption scandals have led to political chaos. Former President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva of the socialist Workers’ Party is in prison because of corruption. His successor, Dilma Rousseff, continued Lula’s populist agenda but was impeached and removed from office. Michel Temer, who followed her in the

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Exorcising the Devil in the Milk

19 days ago

In honor of Halloween tomorrow, I will give sugar a holiday from my attacks. Today, the story is about an unhealthy aspect of milk that is actually avoidable without giving up dairy. In brief, a mutation in cows about 8000 years ago switched amino acids and created a structural weakness at a key place in the important milk protein beta casein. This weak bond then allows 7-amino-acid “peptide” or fragment called BCM7 to break off. (See the image immediately below.) If this 7-amino-acid peptide “BCM7” gets through the intestinal wall it then wreaks havoc on health. And many, many people have “leaky guts” that allow these fragments to get

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Conor Friedersdorf: The Idioms of Non-Argument

20 days ago

Read: When free speech crosses a lineThe balance of the review is scathingly negative not in its arguments—a few pop up along the way, some concerning peripheral matters—but in its ad hominem attacks and other rhetoric disguised as argument as though its mere trappings confer heft. An argument can be strong or weak, civil or ill-mannered, calm or heated, edifying or misleading. Even the most frustrating arguments, though, offer readers more than the tropes pervading this frustrating review, and other journalistic work of the same genre: Let us call them Idioms of Non-Argument.The Guardian review is a useful illustrative example in part because its entire mode is foreshadowed in the headline that announces the article:
The Coddling of the American Mind review – how elite US liberals have

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Christian Kimball: Revelation and Satan

21 days ago

Chris Kimball in 2008

When my brother Chris read my post “Less is More in Mormon Church Meetings,” he wrote some excellent comments on that post immediately, but also had more to say. Below is his guest post, followed by links to Chris’s other guest posts on What Happened?In the September 2018 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “Church”), the President of the Church, Russell M. Nelson, and the next in line and current 1st Counselor, Dallin H. Oaks, spoke of revelation and referred to Satan in talking about the proper name of the Church and about the

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A Conversation with Clint Folsom, Mayor of Superior, Colorado

24 days ago

In the US political system, one of the most important dimensions of social justice is a matter of local politics: giving people of modest means a chance to live in nice towns and cities within a reasonable commute from jobs. I felt a tug of civic duty to do my part toward this end in my home town of Superior, Colorado. (See “Miles Moves to the University of Colorado Boulder.”) Superior, Colorado is a town of 4 square miles, with 12,483 residents in the 2010 census. Along with Louisville across the Denver-Boulder Turnpike (US Route 36), it is the first town on the road from Boulder to Denver after the greenbelt that surrounds Boulder.

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Alison Griswold on Economists in Silicon Valley

25 days ago

It’s hard to explain just how much economists love Uber.Economists love Uber like a mother loves her child. They love it like the internet loves cats. They love it like tech bros love Elon Musk.Economists love Uber because it’s the closest you can get to taking the pure economic theory of textbooks and summoning it to life. Uber created a massive open market, governed first and foremost by the forces of supply and demand. Along the way it broke up the taxi monopoly, taught people to accept “surge” pricing, and ushered concepts long confined to econ 101 into the popular discourse.“Uber is, in many ways, the embodiment of what the economists would like the economy to look like,” economist and Freakonomics co-author Stephen Levitt said on a podcast in 2016.Economists don’t just love Uber—the

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Vindicating Gary Taubes: A Smackdown of Seth Yoder

26 days ago

This flawed early version of the article is no longer available

Gary Taubes’s book The Case Against Sugar was the starting point for my interest in fighting the rising tide of obesity in the world. (See “A Barycentric Autobiography.”) Gary Taubes is so important to efforts to fight obesity that in addition to many of my posts that quote Gary, many posts are more directly about Gary. For example, see: In these posts I have defended Gary’s substantive views, but have, on

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Morgan Warstler on the Origins of the State

27 days ago

Do Progressives Fake Naïveté?God bless ‘em, it’s hard to [email protected] insists there are three types of governing regimes:Lawless — There are no rules preventing people from acting on the bodies of others. There are no rules preventing people from acting on pieces of the world.Grab World — There are rules preventing people from acting on the bodies of others. There are no rules preventing people from acting on pieces of the world. Roderick Long has called this the “Grab What You Can World.” This is the world that is consistent with negative liberty, self-ownership, and the non-aggression principle. It lacks property rights because property rights empower individuals to act on the bodies of others. Every person is free to do literally anything short of acting on the body of another

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John Locke: The Public Good

28 days ago

Image source. On the claim above about healthcare, see a counterpoint in the post “Health Economics”: one’s psychic enjoyment of not having other people in the nation be in bad shape is nonexcludable and nonrival.

Paul Samuelson laid out the standard theory of public goods that is now taught to all economics students in their first economics class. Centuries earlier, John Locke used the phrase “the public good” in a way that doesn’t make its meaning fully clear. I noticed because in “The Social Contract According to John Locke” I say:John Locke’s version of social contract theory is striking in saying that the only

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xkcd: Curve Fitting Methods and the Messages They Send

29 days ago is best viewed with Netscape Navigator 4.0 or below on a Pentium 3±1 emulated in Javascript on an Apple IIGSat a screen resolution of 1024×1. Please enable your ad blockers, disable high-heat drying, and remove your devicefrom Airplane Mode and set it to Boat Mode. For security reasons, please leave caps lock on while browsing.

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Nolan Gray: Why Do We Hate Developers?

October 19, 2018

Earlier this year, researchers Paavo Monkkonen and Michael Manville at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) conducted a survey of 1,300 residents of Los Angeles County to understand the motives behind NIMBYism. As part of the study, they presented respondents with three common anti-development arguments, including the risk of traffic congestion, changes to neighborhood character, and the strain on public services that new developments may bring. But according to their findings, the single most powerful argument motivating opposition to new development was the idea that a developer would make a profit off of the project. At first blush, this finding might seem kind of obvious. People really don’t like developers. As Mark Hogan observed last year on Citylab, classic films from

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Jo Craven McGinty: Basic Facts about US Paper Currency

October 18, 2018

There are some basic facts everyone should know about US paper currency: Most of the value of US paper currency is $100 bills.The fraction of the value of US paper currency that is $100 bills is increasing.Most US paper currency—in particular $100 bills—is abroad.Here is how Jo Craven McGinty lays it out in her July 6, 2018 Wall Street Journal article: Last year, according to figures published by the Fed, $1.6 trillion was in circulation, including $1.3 trillion in $100 bills, or 80% of the total. In 1997, $458 billion circulated, including $291 billion in $100s, or 64% of the total.For at least two decades, the value of circulating

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Roderick Hills: Why Do So Many Affordable-Housing Advocates Reject the Law of Supply and Demand?

October 17, 2018

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Which Nonsugar Sweeteners are OK? An Insulin-Index Perspective

October 16, 2018

In my view, one of the greatest steps forward for public health would be for people to get the message that sugar is very bad—worse than many other foods that people worry about. (See “The Trouble with Most Psychological Approaches to Weight Loss: They Assume the Biology is Obvious, When It Isn’t” and the posts listed below under the heading “Sugar as a Slow Poison.”)Given the dangers of sugar, it is natural to ask whether any nonsugar sweeteners are OK. One part of the answer is that sweetness itself tends to make you think about food, and thinking about food can make you hungry. This is called the cephalic response. It is like the effect

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