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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

Reihan Salam: What Fiji Can Teach America About Immigration

5 days ago

Read: How the Democrats lost their way on immigrationWhat should we Americans take away from Fiji’s recent history? For one, the priorities of immigration systems in desirable destination countries can have powerful effects on the decisions made by potential immigrants. Many thoughtful scholars, including Clemens, have argued that the best thing affluent market democracies can do regarding immigration is admit larger numbers of intending immigrants, both high skill and low skill, because doing so would yield enormous humanitarian benefits, and they have strong arguments on their side. For example, the Fijian case illustrates the importance of offering the citizens of poorly governed societies a way out. If skilled Fijian workers had no prospect of finding a market for their talents abroad,

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In Honor of Alan Krueger

6 days ago

I can’t do Alan Krueger justice in this post. But I can say something. Much has been written about Alan’s public career. I knew him best in graduate school, and only occasionally ran into him after that. Alan and I were classmates; we were both in Harvard’s Ph.D. program in Economics from 1983 to 1987. Alan was one of my classmates that I talked to most because we had offices close to one another: we both served as academic advisors to Harvard undergraduates in Economics while we were Ph.D. students. (As one of the perks, we got a large office shared with one other Ph.D. student instead of only getting a carrel.) My paper “Labor-Market

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Twitter Tributes to Alan Krueger

7 days ago

I saw Alan Krueger just a few weeks ago, when I visited Princeton to give a seminar

He was as alive, and as himself, as ever

We chatted about travel, family, politics & economics

He reminisced that we had known each other since I was a grad student

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Adam Harris: One Way to Stop College-Admissions Insanity: Admit More Students

9 days ago

College seats, overall, aren’t scarce by any means, but seats at selective institutions are—and purposely so. Institutions typically argue that keeping a steady, reasonably sized enrollment allows them to maintain high-quality services for students: student-teacher interaction, tutoring, and a vibrant campus culture. But scarcity has the added benefit of increasing an institution’s prestige. The more students who apply, and the fewer students who get in, the more selective an institution becomes, and, subsequently, the more prestigious. And parents are clawing over one another to get a taste of the social capital that comes with that.“What we have now is people bribing their way into country-club schools that grant status by admission to the country club,” Crow said. This isn’t a new

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Echo Huang: The East and West Have Very Different Ideas on Who to Save in a Self-Driving Car Accident

10 days ago

As countries race to put self-driving cars on road, these vehicles, like human drivers, will inevitably one day be in sole charge of split-second decisions that will result in life or death. Sometimes any decision will unavoidably cause harm to one set of people or another—the famous trolley problem. In that case, what human preferences should shape the algorithms that will decide what the car will do?Researchers from MIT’s Media Lab have found the answer to that can be quite different depending whether if you’re from the United States, France, or Japan, and hope that knowledge will shape “a global conversation to express our preferences to the companies that will design moral algorithms, and to the policymakers that will regulate them.”“Never in the history of humanity have we allowed a

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Olivia Goldhill: Google Translate is a Manifestation of Wittgenstein’s Dictum that the Meaning of a Word is in its Use

11 days ago

More than 60 years after philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s theories on language were published, the artificial intelligence behind Google Translate has provided a practical example of his hypotheses. Patrick Hebron, who works on machine learning in design at Adobe and studied philosophy with Wittgenstein expert Garry Hagberg for his bachelor’s degree at Bard College, notes that the networks behind Google Translate are a very literal representation of Wittgenstein’s work.Google employees have previously acknowledged that Wittgenstein’s theories gave them a breakthrough in making their translation services more effective, but somehow, this key connection between philosophy of language and artificial intelligence has long gone under-celebrated and overlooked.Crucially, Google Translate

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Q&A on the Idea of a US Sovereign Wealth Fund

13 days ago

Chris Campbell asked me some interesting questions about the idea of a US Sovereign Wealth Fund. Here they are, along with my answers. His questions are in bold. Afterward, I gives some related links and Chris gives an introduction to himself. 1.     What makes sovereign wealth funds such an exciting concept for countries to adopt and/or implement?The big benefits are (a) getting more risky physical and software investment to happen, with the positive consequences that has for economic growth in the long run (b) as a way around an irrationally high aversion to risk by individuals—an aversion to risk that goes beyond decreasing marginal

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Annabelle Timsit—The Simple Thing Parents Can Do to Protect Kids from Obesity and Mental-Health Problems: Help Them Get More Sleep

14 days ago

British kids desperately need more sleep.An investigation conducted by The Guardian has found that children and teenagers in the UK face a mounting sleeplessness crisis that is impacting their mental and physical well-being. The newspaper analyzed public health data and found that hospital admissions of young people under the age of 16 with a primary diagnosis of sleep disorder have risen sharply in six years, from 6,520 in 2012-2013 to almost 9,500 in 2017.In the UK, a greater understanding of the interplay between sleeplessness and conditions like obesity and anxiety is shedding light on what has become a fundamental public health concern. Across the world, children are sleeping less. Experts have attributed this rise in sleeplessness to a rise in anxiety and other mental health

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How Low Insulin Opens a Way to Escape Dieting Hell

15 days ago

Salvation from diet hell is very different from salvation from a supernatural hell, but in this post I want to make the analogy. On the supernatural side of the analogy, let me stick with the Mormon theology that I know best from the first 40 years of my life when I was a Mormon. (I am 58 now.) The Mormon theory of being saved by Jesus centers on a great sacrifice by Jesus, which allows mercy power on a par with justice. There is a fancy word for a theory of salvation: “soteriology.” Here are some key passages of soteriology from the Book of Mormon. (Also see my post “The Mormon View of Jesus.”) For it is expedient that an atonement should

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On Despotism

17 days ago

Being under someone else’s power is the result of some kind of lack on one’s own part. This is the gist of Chapter XV of John Locke’s 2d Treatise on Government: Of Civil Government: “Of Paternal, Political, and Despotical Power, considered together.”Parental Power. Being under parental power results from the disabilities inherent in childhood. Looking to the other end of the age spectrum, parental power can be compared to the medical or financial power of attorney those people often give others in their old age. Knowing, or suspecting, that they will become unable to make good decisions for themselves, many people voluntary sign documents

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Ephrat Livni Resolves the “Octopuses” vs. “Octopi” Debate

18 days ago

You may say “to-may-to” while I say “to-mah-to,” but let’s call off any arguments about the plural for octopus right now. Make no mistake. The cephalopods do have eight tentacles and there may be three ways to describe a group of them, but only one is technically correct.Grammatically speaking, the plural for octopus is octopuses. As the Merriam-Webster dictionary points out, people use three different terms, however: octopi, octopuses, and octopodes.While “octopi” has become popular in modern usage, it’s wrong. The letter “i” as a suffix to indicate a plural noun only applies to words with Latin roots, like “cacti” for more than one cactus. But octopus is derived from Greek, so the proper pluralization in this case would be “odes” if it was ever used. However, this particular word happens

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Evidence that Breath Training Against Resistance Can Be a 5-Minute Workout with Big Benefits

18 days ago

Key takeaways
 A five-minute workout called Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST) has been shown to lower blood pressure as much as aerobic exercise and more than some medications.

 Participants breathe in vigorously 30 times, five days a week, through a device that provides resistance.

 With a new National Institute on Aging grant, researchers have launched a clinical trial. Preliminary findings suggest it may also boost cognitive function and fitness.

Could working out five minutes a day, without lifting a single weight or jogging a single step, reduce your heart attack risk, help you think more clearly and boost your sports performance?
Preliminary evidence suggests yes.
Now, with a new grant from the National Institute on Aging, CU Boulder researchers have launched a

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Ellie Violet Bramley: When the Paths People Want Are Missing, People Vote with their Feet

19 days ago

A desire path – an unofficial shortcut – in a park in Tunbridge Wells.
Photograph: Alamy

We’ve all been there. You want a short cut – to the bus stop, office or corner shop – but there’s no designated path. Others before you have already flattened the grass, or cut a line through a hedge. Why not, you think.
So goes the logic of “desire paths” – described by Robert Macfarlane as “paths & tracks made over time by the wishes & feet of walkers, especially those paths that run contrary to design or planning”; he calls them “free-will ways”. The New Yorker offers other names: “cow paths, pirate paths, social trails, kemonomichi (beast trails), chemins de l’âne (donkey paths), and Olifantenpad (elephant trails)”. JM Barrie described them as “Paths that have Made Themselves”.

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Co-Active Coaching as a Tool for Maximizing Utility—Getting Where You Want in Life

20 days ago

A safe bet is that coaching of all types will be a growing sector of the economy. The Wikipedia article “Coaching” lists these types of coaching: ADHD coaching, business and executive coaching, career coaching, Christian coaching, co-coaching, dating coaching, financial coaching, health and wellness coaching, homework coaching, coaching in education, life coaching, relationship coaching, and sports coaching. The types of coaching—as well as the number of coaches in each type—are likely to expand in the future. I think the growth of coaching is a very good thing: ideally, everyone would have a coach, or more than one for different areas of their lives. And with

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Brad DeLong on the Current State of Politics

21 days ago

On the right, however, things are much worse. Looking to the right of the Rubin Wing of the Democratic Party, we see rubble. Then we see more rubble. And more rubble. Beyond that, rubble. And then, at the far end of the political spectrum, what former Secretary of State 5/

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How Not Getting Enough Sleep Messes You Up, Part 1

22 days ago

Not getting enough sleep will mess your body and your mind up in many ways. A study published in Current Biology a few days ago (shown just above) provides evidence that not getting enough sleep leads people to snack more late in the evening, and makes them more insulin resistant (=reduces their insulin sensitivity). Getting more insulin resistant is bad because the body has to produce more insulin to overcome the resistance and make sure blood sugar is on track, and that extra insulin has

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Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine: Kids Who Watched Sesame Street Did Better in School

23 days ago

Not very many television shows can claim that they have helped millions of children. But Sesame Street can. A study first written in 2015 but recently published in the American Economic Journal quantifies just how big a difference the show made, comparing the educational and professional achievements of children who had access to the show compared to those who didn’t.In “Early Childhood Education by Television: Lessons from Sesame Street,” researchers Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine measured whether children’s access to Sesame Street before they turned seven impacted their elementary school performance and long-term outcomes in education and the labor market. To do this, they relied on a quirk of federal broadcast licensing (paywall). When Sesame Street aired in 1969, about two-thirds

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Against Narcissism

24 days ago

I have been consistent in speaking of the past as the “bad old days” rather than the “good old days.” Overall, things are much better now than they used to be. (In my first three months of blogging, I posted “Things are Getting Better: 3 Videos.”) But it would be quite surprising if there weren’t a few dimensions of our national life getting worse. One negative trend is the rise in obesity, that I talk about in my diet and health posts every Tuesday. Another negative trend is the rise in midlife “deaths of despair” by non-Hispanic Whites who never attended college that Anne Case and Angus Deaton have documented. A third negative trend is

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Randy Shaw—Ignore the Myth: Voters Rally for Housing

25 days ago

Experts, Voters Both Support New Housing
Cities are seeing more political support for building housing  now than in at least the past four decades.  Yet some housing advocates believe public support is lacking, asking “ Why voters haven’t been buying the case for housing?”

This was the title of a widely circulated story in Shelterforce last week by Rick Jacobus, one of the nation’s most insightful housing writers.  He based his conclusion on an October 2018 LA Times survey of 1300 Californians. Only 13 percent of respondents blamed the affordability crisis on “too little home building.” Twice as many people blamed “lack of funding for affordable housing” or “lack of rent control” for the problem.

Jacobus’ article sought to

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William Pearse Interviews Eight Economics Bloggers on Whether You Should Be Blogging

27 days ago

It is well known that blogging can be a useful, if not essential, tool for expanding networks, creating academic dialogue, and generally fomenting ideas. Alas, as wonderful as this may sound, like always, it is not always quite that easy. It also requires time, which tends to be tight; energy, at times lacking, and dedication. With this in mind, we wanted clarity; in practice, how can blogging benefit one’s work? And, what role can it play in the career development of an aspiring, young economist?We brought in the expertsTo answer these questions, and better elucidate the realities of blog writing we thought it best to turn to the experts – eight of them to be exact. As a group, they are among the best-respected economists around, blogging to large and loyal audiences in their respective

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David Autor: Middle-Skill Jobs Have Disappeared from Cities

28 days ago

MIT economist David Autor made news in January, when he delivered the prestigious Richard T. Ely Lecture at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association and presented an attention-grabbing finding about the U.S. economy. Cities no longer provide an abundance of middle-skill jobs for workers without college degrees, he announced, based on his own careful analysis of decades of federal jobs data, which he scrutinized by occupation, location, and more. MIT News talked to Autor, the Ford Professor of Economics at MIT, about how this sea change is responsible for much of the “hollowing out” of the middle-class work force, and overall inequality, in the U.S. This interview has been edited for length.

Q: Your new research says that changes in the jobs available in cities has played a

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David Ludwig, Walter Willett, Jeff Volek and Marian Neuhouser: Controversies and Consensus on Fat vs. Carbs

29 days ago

David Ludwig is not a fan of lowfat diets. He is the author of Always Hungry, which includes this in its Amazon summary:Low-fat diets work against you, by triggering fat cells to hoard more calories for themselves, leaving too few for the rest of the body. This "hungry fat" sets off a dangerous chain reaction that leaves you feeling ravenous as your metabolism slows down. Cutting calories only makes the situation worse-creating a battle between mind and metabolism that we’re destined to lose.  But to write the

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Nolan Gray and Brandon Fuller: A Red-State Take on a YIMBY Housing Bill

February 25, 2019

Utah’s SB 34, aimed at increasing the state’s supply of affordable housing, may hold lessons for booming cities of the Mountain West, and beyond.Feb 20, 2019The U.S. housing affordability crisis is national in its scope, but media coverage tends to focus on California cities like San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles, where skyrocketing rents and a blossoming YIMBY (“Yes In My Backyard”) movement have incited a response from lawmakers. In his inaugural address earlier this year, newly elected California Governor Gavin Newsom called for a “Marshall Plan” for affordable housing that would add 500,000 new homes in the Golden State per year.

But the fastest home price appreciation in 2018 didn’t happen in California, New York, Washington State, or other coastal states. It hit Nevada,

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Getting Away with Doing Good

February 24, 2019

As I noted in “John Locke: Revolutions are Always Motivated by Misrule as Well as Procedural Violations,” in my experience, Department Chairs can get away with procedural violations as long as everyone agrees with what they are doing. On a larger stage, people didn’t get that upset with Thomas Jefferson for making the Lousiana purchase, even though that action arguably exceeded his constitutional powers. John Locke, in Chapter XIV, “Of Prerogative,” of his 2d Treatise on Government: Of Civil Government explains that doing good for the people appropriately allows a ruler to bend the rules, while no constitutional provision can justify a

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Jeanmarie Evelly: Why Free Parking isn’t Free

February 23, 2019

Adi TalwarAs development has rushed north along Webster Avenue in the Bronx, what used to be a lonely stretch of road bracketed by train tracks and a cemetery is now usually chock full of cars.
After floundering for more than a decade, it seems 2019 may finally be the year New York approves a congestion pricing plan. Not only is the governor behind it, but a growing number of state lawmakers say they support charging drivers a fee to enter Manhattan’s business district, spurred by worsening gridlock on city streets and a cash-strapped public transit system in crisis.
But one element in the great traffic debate has gotten less attention: parking policy. If it makes sense to charge cars to drive on the city’s busiest streets, thereby discouraging auto use and speeding up traffic, wouldn’t it

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