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November 2019

"Be Cautious with the Precautionary Principle: Evidence from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident"

Recent NBER paper.

This paper provides a large scale, empirical evaluation of unintended effects from invoking the precautionary principle after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. After the accident, all nuclear power stations ceased operation and nuclear power was replaced by fossil fuels, causing an exogenous increase in electricity prices. This increase led to a reduction in energy consumption, which caused an increase in mortality during very cold temperatures. We estimate that the increase in mortality from higher electricity prices outnumbers the mortality from the accident itself, suggesting the decision to cease nuclear production has contributed to more deaths than the accident itself.

"The world’s top economists just made the case for why we still need English majors"

Not quite. This is a classic Washington Post headline. The "world's top economists" turn out to be 1) Robert Shiller, who has a new book to plug, 2) the governor of Sweden's national bank, 3) the head of Australia's central bank, and 4) two Harvard economists who did a study which claims "By age 40, the earnings of people who majored in fields like social science or history have caught up [to STEM majors].”

That's it.

Read it if you like but I think the headline vastly overstates the evidence cited.

UPDATE: Link added.