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In the human capital field, Carruthers and Wanamaker write:

The gap between black and white earnings is a longstanding feature of the United States labor market.  Competing explanations attribute different weight to wage discrimination and access to human capital. Using new data on local school quality, we find that human capital played a predominant role in determining 1940 wage and occupational status gaps in the South despite the effective disenfranchisement of blacks, entrenched racial discrimination in civic life, and lack of federal employment protections.  The 1940 conditional black-white wage gap coincides with the higher end of the range of estimates from
the post-Civil Rights era.  We estimate that a truly “separate but equal” school system would have reduced wage inequality by 40 – 51 percent.

Am I permitted to even comment on this? Brave paper no doubt. Of course, this does not mean that “pre-market” discrimination and other factors do not lead to the human capital differences, in fact that is the most plausible argument. But from a labor economics perspective, and given the popular narrative today of what determines wages, I find these sorts of papers indispensable.

And in the health care field, John Cawley and co-authors write:

Analyzing transaction data from an 8-month randomized controlled field experiment involving 208 households, we find that a 10% relative price difference between nutritious and less nutritious food does not significantly affect overall purchases

Well, it is a small experiment.

Acemoglu and co-authors send a flare up to “my (former) tribe”:

We show that between 1804 and 1899, the time when the US became the world technological leader, there is a strong association
between the presence and number of post offices in a county and patenting activity, and it appears that it is the opening of postal
offices that leads to surges in patenting activity, not the other way around.  Our evidence suggests that part of the yet untold story of US technological exceptionalism is the way in which the US created an immensely capable and effective state

In other words, the US Government seems to have been a key driver of 19th century innovation. Well, patents are not the same as innovation, and there are some other institutional factors missing, but … ummm …”an immensely capable and effective state” … before you laugh, always remember to ask, “as compared to what.”

In other news, price discrimination (to coin a Klingianism) explains everything.

This paper demonstrating how tightly related ceasing smoking and obesity are, strangely, made me think about the economics of Global Warming.

I’m sure the Donald is familiar with this new result on immigration and political vote share in the US.

Coile, Milligan and Wise argue that older Americans have a significant capacity to work more in their older ages. They are ageists! Of course, these results are probably generalizeable throughout the entire population.

Another call for better governance. Instead, we will debate until we are blue in the face about the Titanic deck chair placement. Remember the Big Fact (we spend $6 TRILLION per year at all levels of government, yet, yet, yet …).



One Response to “Slaying a Shibboleth?”

  1. Michael says:

    “truly separate but equal” meaning…?

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