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Tyler Cowen

Tyler Cowen

Tyler Cowen is an American economist, academic, and writer. He occupies the Holbert C. Harris Chair of economics as a professor at George Mason University and is co-author, with Alex Tabarrok, of the popular economics blog Marginal Revolution. Cowen and Tabarrok have also ventured into online education by starting Marginal Revolution University. He currently writes the "Economic Scene" column for the New York Times, and he also writes for such publications as The New Republic, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Newsweek, and the Wilson Quarterly.

Articles by Tyler Cowen

Wednesday assorted links

4 days ago

1. Vitalik Buterin fellowships in existential safety.
2. I wanted to send this article to someone, yet no one is really an appropriate recipient, so I am putting it here (NYT).
3. Chess problem of attacking Queens is solved.
4. Memorial to a Swedish life.  Very good (and sad).
5. The rise of the biohacker (FT, the framing is excessively negative, but an interesting piece nonetheless).
6. Yes taxes really do matter (Mankiw).
7. New (free Kindle) book: The Essential UCLA School of Economics.
The post Wednesday assorted links appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

       
Comments#7. The Essential UCLA School of Economics. Well the price … by BenganIn reply to Sergeant Prepper. Much more precise than ‘sad’ … by AnonymousIn reply to Brian Donohue. +1 Harper 1st floor (40

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My Conversation with Amia Srinivasan

4 days ago

I am pleased to have had the chance to do this, as in my view she is one of the thinkers today who has a) super smarts, b) breadth and depth of reading, and c) breadth and depth of thinking.  That combination is rare!  That said, I don’t quite agree with her on everything, so this exchange had more disagreements than perhaps what you are used to sampling from CWT.
Here is the transcript and audio.  Here is part of the CWT summary:
Amia joined Tyler to discuss the importance of context in her vision of feminism, what social conservatives are right about, why she’s skeptical about extrapolating from the experience of women in Nordic countries, the feminist critique of the role of consent in sex, whether disabled individuals should be given sex vouchers, how to address falling fertility

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How economists use gdp to think

5 days ago

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column.  Here is one bit:
An appreciation of GDP helps keep things in perspective. Say there is some social or economic trend you dislike or think dangerous. One inclination would be to try to visualize that trend as a share of GDP. Most things are a pretty small fraction of GDP, reflecting the scope and the robustness of the U.S. economy. In one sense America is a vast and sprawling system of shopping malls, restaurants, factories, coffee shops, construction sites, art galleries, and much, much more.
So even if the social or economic trend you find disturbing is in fact a bad thing, America — as defined by its GDP — will proceed unperturbed. People who get annoyed at small changes in America tend not to appreciate the true magnitude of America’s

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Claims about columns

5 days ago

Like I said, I never wanted to be a columnist, but no one did when I started back in 2000. Sure, there were columnists around then, some of whom still write for the Guardian (Jonathan Freedland, Martin Kettle, Polly Toynbee), some of whom sadly don’t (Martin Wollacott, Hugo Young). But column-writing was seen as something of a private members’ club: elitist, dusty and distant. Back then, young journalists wanted the fun, scrappy jobs: investigative reporter, music reviewer, features writer. But ever since the rise of blogging culture in the 2000s, when anyone with an Apple PowerBook (RIP) could knock out a column, pretty much every aspiring journalist I’ve met has told me they want to be a columnist. Stating your opinion online has become the definitive way of saying who you are, so of

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Tuesday assorted links

5 days ago

1. Comprehensive look at why the labor share of income is declining.
2. “Our results indicate that higher education liberalizes moral concerns for most students, but it also departs from the standard liberal profile by promoting moral absolutism rather than relativism. These effects are strongest for individuals majoring in the humanities, arts, or social sciences, and for students pursuing graduate studies.”  Link here.
3. New evidence of continuing vaccine effectiveness.  And the very good sense of Ross Douthat on Covid (NYT).
4. Learning through Substack.
5. Valerio Olgiati, architect (and Kanye West).
6. Balding on submarines and Evergrande.
7. Democrats’ agenda continuing to shrink.
The post Tuesday assorted links appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

       
Comments#2

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Intergenerational mobility with race and measurement error

6 days ago

A large body of evidence finds that relative mobility in the US has declined over the past 150 years. However, long-run mobility estimates are usually based on white samples and therefore do not account for the limited opportunities available for non-white families. Moreover, historical data measure the father’s status with error, which biases estimates toward greater mobility. Using linked census data from 1850-1940, I show that accounting for race and measurement error can double estimates of intergenerational persistence. Updated estimates imply that there is greater equality of opportunity today than in the past, mostly because opportunity was never that equal.
That is a new NBER working paper by Zachary Ward, big if true!  Via the excellent Samir Varma.
The post Intergenerational

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More on Ireland during World War II

6 days ago

A few more points:
1. Since both Germany and Britain maintained embassies in Dublin, Ireland became renowned during the war as “one of the whispering-galleries of Europe and a natural centre of for intrigue and spying of every kind.”
2. Fuel was so scarce that private motoring virtually ceased by 1943, and even public transport was problematic.
3. The War threw Ireland back into a state of almost complete cultural isolation.
4. In some odd ways the existence of Northern Ireland as ruled by Britain increased the autonomy of the rest of Ireland, which otherwise might have been commandeered for naval bases and the like, and might have been drawn into the conflict as well.
5. Ireland did receive Marshall Plan aid after the War, and this began what turned into a long-running process of

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From the comments, on boosters and Covid policy

6 days ago

My first reaction upon hearing that boosters were rejected was to ask the same thing: would these same “experts” say that, because the vaccines are still effective without boosters, vaccinated persons don’t need to wear masks and can resume normal life? Of course not. They use the criterion “prevents hospitalization” for evaluating boosters (2a) but switch back to “prevents infection” when the question is masks and other restrictions. What about those that are willing to accept the tiny risk of side effects to prevent infection so that they can get back to fully normal life? The Science (TM) tells us that one can’t transmit the virus if one is never infected to begin with.
Also, one of the No votes on boosters said that he feared approval would effectively turn boosters into a mandate and

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Monday assorted links

6 days ago

1. Deportees.
2. How truthful is GPT-3?
3. “James, what inspired you to put your vaccination record on your T-shirt?”
4. Ezra Klein on the supply side (NYT).
5. “Academic freedom no longer includes freedom to be a generalist.” (NYT)
6. Sexual harassment is reported more selectively during recessions.
7. And sanity about the minimum wage.  The Jeffrey P. Clemens tweet storm is useful as a summary.  Theory and empirics are reunited, and no it ain’t monopsony (as if you didn’t know that already).
The post Monday assorted links appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

       
CommentsIn reply to Noko. For anyone interested in this cool paper … by AidanIn reply to zztop. I would have thought Cowen would catch … by Larry Siegel#4…What Ezra Klein advocates is what Miles Kimball

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Learning to live with Woke

7 days ago

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, or maybe try this link, note it is 3x the usual length and not easily excerpted.  Nonetheless here is one bit:
Note that it is not necessary to approve of all U.S. cultural exports to view the spread of wokeism as a net positive for the world. I do not like either Big Macs or Marvel movies, for instance. But at the end of the day I think American culture is a healthy, democratizing, liberating influence, so I want to extend it.
As the motivational speakers like to say, Winners win! And woke is right now one of America’s global winners. Part of what makes America great, and could help to make the rest of the world greater yet, is accepting a certain amount of semi-stupid, least-common-denominator culture.
And:
It drives conservatives and

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More on US vs. UK television shows

7 days ago

From Alex Griffiths:
In a recent article you wrote about the historic difference between British and American panel shows and I wanted to share my theory.
I think that there are two factors at play in the difference between British and American panel shows. 1. Market size, 2. Culture. 3. What is funny in US vs. UK.
1. Historically the small number of domestic television stations that the British television market could make profitable (until very recently 5 at most) meant that unlike in America there was limited choice and further the talent pool of people working on the programmes was also small and so the people making the programmes had both the ability due to being smaller to be relatively nimble to changes in culture and also had little choice but to watch the selection they were

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Wednesday assorted links

11 days ago

1. Big excerpt of me on crypto, link now corrected, with Ezra Klein.
2. What should we conclude from the Bangladesh mask study?
3. New Yorker profile of Colm Tóibín.
4. It seems the NBA won’t require player vaccinations?
5. History of mRNA vaccines.
6. New Emily Oster Covid-19 School Data Hub, valuable.
7. Hedgehogs and foxes, for real, not just the usual b.s.
The post Wednesday assorted links appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

       
Commentsjohn McWhorter Ph.d just nailed it. battling “powered … by maskedswedishcannibalsIn reply to LivelyClock. That’s a good point, although I … by VulcidianIn reply to Vulcidian. It’sa bout the tempation of Christ as … by EquestrianIn reply to God of Thunder. I had a quick look at the article … by Calvin HobbesIn reply to

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China campaign of the day

11 days ago

But a shift in investor sentiment suggests the days of China’s youth going under the knife in pursuit of perfection might be numbered, as President Xi Jinping tries to reshape the country’s cultural and business landscape as part of a “common prosperity” drive. S
ince the start of July, the market value of the country’s three biggest publicly traded medical aesthetics companies has fallen by a third, representing a collective loss of more than $17bn, despite the popularity of cosmetic procedures. Investment bank Citic estimated sales revenues in China’s aesthetic medicine market were more than Rmb330bn ($51bn) in 2020.
But analysts warn that the industry could suffer a heavy blow if Beijing concludes that the sector’s negative social influence is on a par with private tutoring and online

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Covid and intertemporal substitution

12 days ago

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one bit:
Before the vaccines came along, it made great sense to enforce masking norms. If infections could be shifted into the future, an eventually vaccinated citizenry would be much better protected.
There is a less obvious corollary: Those same mask norms make less sense when large numbers of people are vaccinated. Masking still will push infections further into the future, but if the vaccines become marginally less effective over time, as some data suggest, people may be slightly worse off later on (they’ll also be a bit older). The upshot is that the case for masking is less strong, even if you still think it is a good idea overall.
Still, many people prefer to abide by fixed rules and principles. Once they learn them and

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Understanding the onset of hot streaks in careers

12 days ago

By Lu Liu, et.al., in Nature:
Across a range of creative domains, individual careers are characterized by hot streaks, which are bursts of high-impact works clustered together in close succession. Yet it remains unclear if there are any regularities underlying the beginning of hot streaks. Here, we analyze career histories of artists, film directors, and scientists, and develop deep learning and network science methods to build high-dimensional representations of their creative outputs. We find that across all three domains, individuals tend to explore diverse styles or topics before their hot streak, but become notably more focused after the hot streak begins. Crucially, hot streaks appear to be associated with neither exploration nor exploitation behavior in isolation, but a particular

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Tuesday assorted links

12 days ago

1. Mike Makowsky good career advice for those economists (and others?) coming out of non-elite schools.
2. Bryan Caplan on his home schooling experience.
3. BBC covers EV India winner and his fight against air pollution.
4. Why young Koreans are doing so well in classical music.
5. Art Blakey and Lee Morgan in concert.
6. Guardian Fall books preview.  And Vulture Fall books preview.
The post Tuesday assorted links appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

       
CommentsIn reply to dan1111. “What happened at the Wuhan exotic … by AnonymousIn reply to Lord Action. He did, fairly literally, … by AnonymousIn reply to ChrisA. “I cannot imagine why an 18 year old … by DinwarIn reply to bielersee. ‘Coercive’ strikes me as decidedly … by AnonymousIn reply to Joy. Maybe.

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Derry notes, Northern Ireland’s second largest city

13 days ago

People in Derry are still talking about the 1680s…it is bad to be a “Lundy,” namely a traitor to your cause but the bar here has become a high one.  You are either with them or against them.
The 17th century city wall seems fully intact, the buildings are splendid, and the green, wet, and hilly natural setting is a perfect fit.  The town is long on history, short on things to do.  It is perfect for a two-day trip.
I witnessed a Loyalist parade — the men were not feminized, nor did they seem happy. It is now so much “common knowledge” that Britain really does not care about them.  So what is their future and with whom?  Given differential birthrates, Catholics seem headed to become a majority in NI as well.
Most of the city centre is Catholic, and unlike Belfast it is not difficult to

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Why I am reluctant to endorse preschool

13 days ago

A few of you asked for follow-ups, given my discussion with Ezra Klein.  Here is one paper that makes me skeptical:
Exploiting admission thresholds in a Regression Discontinuity Design, we study the causal effects of daycare at age 0–2 on cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes at age 8–14. One additional month in daycare reduces IQ by 0.5% (4.5% of a standard deviation). Effects for conscientiousness are small and imprecisely estimated. Psychologists suggest that children in daycare experience fewer one-to-one interactions with adults, which should be particularly relevant for girls who are more capable than boys of exploiting cognitive stimuli at an early age. In line with this interpretation, losses for girls are larger and more significant, especially in affluent families.
That is

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Monday assorted links

13 days ago

1. You can now buy a $475 NFT ticket to see Beeple’s $69 million NFT at an IRL party.  The ticket also includes one drink.
2. “We find that young players benefited at the expense of older players and that the disruptive effects of the new [tennis] racquets persisted over two to four generations.”
3. In the early stages of pandemics, do they spread more amongst people of higher status?
4. The exclusionary history of the FHA.
5. Excerpts from me on how to read.
6. The Japanese are better at reading Twitter.
7. Tensions between the CDC and Biden administration mount.  Which one do you think is coming closer to trying to maximize expected value?  It turns out even the FDA thinks the CDC is too slow.
The post Monday assorted links appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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Immigration to the U.S. is correlated with quite high life expectancy

14 days ago

We find that immigration increases US life expectancy by 1.5 years for men and 1.4 years for women. Over half of these contributions occur at the prime working ages of 25–64. The difference between foreign-born and US-born mortality has grown substantially since 1990, with the ratio of US-born to foreign-born mortality rates nearly doubling by 2017. In that year, foreign-born life expectancy reached 81.4 and 85.7 years for men and women, respectively—7.0 and 6.2 years higher than their US-origin counterparts. These life expectancy levels are remarkable by most standards. Foreign-born male life expectancy exceeds that of Swiss men, the world leaders in male life expectancy. Life expectancy for foreign-born women is close to that of Japanese women, the world leaders in female life

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Yet another underreported medical scandal — the overmedicated elderly

14 days ago

“Add Dx of schizophrenia for use of Haldol,” read the doctor’s order, using the medical shorthand for “diagnosis.”
But there was no evidence that Mr. Blakeney actually had schizophrenia.
Antipsychotic drugs — which for decades have faced criticism as “chemical straitjackets” — are dangerous for older people with dementia, nearly doubling their chance of death from heart problems, infections, falls and other ailments. But understaffed nursing homes have often used the sedatives so they don’t have to hire more staff to handle residents…
The share of residents with a schizophrenia diagnosis has soared 70 percent since 2012, according to an analysis of Medicare data. That was the year the federal government, concerned with the overuse of antipsychotic drugs, began publicly disclosing such

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Sunday assorted links

14 days ago

1. Stephen comments on Cutler and Glaeser.
2. Edward Tufte landscape sculpture park in Connecticut.
3. Crypto use growing in Afghanistan (WSJ).
4. On the role of institutions in the British Industrial Revolution.
5. New Craig Palsson Substack on economics and Haiti.
6. When will NHS waiting times return to pre-pandemic levels?
The post Sunday assorted links appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

       
CommentsIn reply to Ricardo. He was the cure to the David Duke … by Viking“I didn’t realize that the UK has significant private … by deariemeIn reply to mkt42. As if Tyler isn’t unbearably patronizing … by As if“2. Edward Tufte landscape sculpture park in Connecticut.” … by mkt42“1. Stephen comments on Cutler and Glaeser.” “9/ The … by mkt42Plus 10

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Why are American talk shows so much worse than British ones?

15 days ago

Sam Enright emails me:
My girlfriend is American, and she’s been struck by how the UK panel shows – QI, Would I Lie to You, 8 Out of 10 Cats – are so much better than the American ones, and play to the lowest common denominator less. There don’t seem to be a lot of panel shows in America per se, but the closest thing is late night shows, and so far as I can tell, they’re all terrible. A lot of whining about politics. Previously good comedians like Trevor Noah or John Oliver seem to become remarkably un-funny upon becoming hosts of US shows. Yet America has no deficit in producing quality films and TV in general. Do you have a theory about this? Are there culture-specific cues that I’m not picking up on? Is the American elite more competitive and therefore more politically unified, and

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*Beautiful World, Where Are You?* — the new Sally Rooney novel

15 days ago

It is really good, and more subtle than one might have expected.  Imagine Ireland’s #1 left-wing writer imbibing the brew of Ross Douthat over the last few years and putting it all into fictional form, and convincingly at that.  I don’t just mean the Mass scene and the pornography discussion, it is the consistent theme running throughout the book.
The tale ends up as a true case for cultural optimism, albeit with some reasonable qualifications.
Here is a good New Yorker review by Lauren Michele Jackson.  The title of the book is excellent as well.
The post *Beautiful World, Where Are You?* — the new Sally Rooney novel appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

       
CommentsIn reply to Aladdin. @Aladdin- you are I think spot on. I … by Ray LopezIn reply to Mark T. A good time to

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Saturday assorted links

15 days ago

1. Rationalist baby names?
2. New Brazilian econ Ph.D student at UC Davis is in fact very famous.
3. Robby Soave on vaccine mandates (NYT).
4. The demand for academic economists is rebounding.
5. Australian vaccination progress could be doing better — incentives matter!
6. Adoption and IQ.  It is still my view, by the way, that very large cultural changes can alter IQs quite a lot, as evidenced by the Flynn Effect.  That is one reason why economic development often is so difficult.
7. Final summary and published version of Robin Hanson, et.al., grabby aliens paper.
The post Saturday assorted links appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

       
CommentsIn reply to mkt42. Ken Rogoff was pretty famous as a chess … by MoiraIn reply to AlexR. Thanks for catching this typo. by

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My appearance on the Ezra Klein Show

16 days ago

Talking with Ezra is always both fun and enlightening for me, here is his partial summary of the episode:
So we begin this conversation by discussing the case for and against economic growth, but we also get into lots of other things: why Cowen thinks the great stagnation in technology is coming to an end; the future of technologies like A.I., crypto, fourth-generation nuclear and the Chinese system of government; the problems in how we fund scientific research; what the right has done to make government both ineffective and larger; why Cowen is skeptical of universal pre-K (and why I’m not); whether I overestimate the dangers of polarization; the ways in which we’re getting weirder; the long-term future of human civilization; why reading is overrated and travel is underrated; how to

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Street-Level Responsiveness of City Governments in China, Germany, and the United States

16 days ago

This paper presents evidence from parallel field experiments in China, Germany, and the United States. We contacted the mayor’s office in over 6,000 cities asking for information about procedures for starting a new business. Chinese and German cities responded to 36-37 percent requests; American cities responded to only 22 percent of requests. We randomly varied the text of the request to identify factors that affect the likelihood of receiving a response. American and German cities were more responsive to requests from citizens than foreigners; Chinese cities did not discriminate on this basis. Chinese cities were more responsive to requests from men than women; German cities did not discriminate on this basis and American cities had a slight bias in favor of women. Cities in all three

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Secret Danish markets in everything

16 days ago

Denmark has paid the UK an undisclosed sum to accept 23 Afghan refugees who worked as interpreters for the Danish state for eight years.
According to a report by Swedish broadsheet Svenska Dagbladet, the interpreters were granted a residence permit in the UK after twelve of them had their visa applications to Denmark rejected and eleven wanted to travel to the UK themselves.
Even though the interpreters were technically employed by the British military, they worked for the Danes, wearing Danish uniform and received a Danish salary.
The amount — paid for in secret by the Danish state — has been calculated according to what it would cost the British to evacuate the interpreters, integrate them into society and pay social costs for five years. The payment has been confirmed by the Danish

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Friday assorted links

16 days ago

1. More on risk-based business cycles.
2. “Residents in apartment blocks locked-down by NSW Health are having their alcohol deliveries policed as part of a policy to limit the number of drinks being consumed each day.”  It seems that quite a few of these people want more than six beers a day.
3. Claims of a fusion breakthrough at MIT.   And building Arcadia, a new science funding institution.
4. What do Germans fear the most?
5. How effective is the China crypto trading ban?
6. Wild vs. lab rats.  And Havana Syndrome update?
7. Someone compares me to Thrawn.
The post Friday assorted links appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

       
CommentsIn reply to Dino the Isaurian. Mixed up, I said. De-emulsify. … by WonderingIn reply to Wondering. Ok, I’ll bite. Which

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A new hurdle for vaccine development

17 days ago

Unless countries that have purchased vaccine doses and companies that have already brought vaccines into use agree to find ways to resolve the problem, manufacturers that trail the first wave of producers may not be able to prove that their vaccines work. Not only will that slow efforts to vaccinate the planet, it will block development of next-generation vaccines, and it will stymie efforts to answer key public health questions, like whether boosting with a different vaccine would generate better protection, or whether giving smaller — fractional — doses could protect more people more quickly…
The problem stems in part from the fact that at this point in the pandemic, it isn’t considered ethical to test new vaccines against placebos; instead they would have to be tested against one of

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