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June 2022

"The Parent Trap–Review of Hilger"

Alex Tabarrok's mostly favorable review of a new book.

Nate Hilger’s [sic] has written a brave book. Almost everyone will find something to hate about The Parent Trap. Indeed, I hated parts of it. Yet Hilger is willing to say truths that are often not said and for that I would rather applaud than cancel.

Hilger argues that the problems of poverty, pathology and inequality that bedevil the United States are not primarily due to poor schools, discrimination, or low incomes per se. The primary cause is parents: parents who are unable to teach their children the skills that are necessary to succeed in the modern world. Since parents can’t teach the necessary skills, Hilger calls for the state to take their place with a dramatic expansion of not just child care but collective parenting.

"Wealth and history: A reappraisal"

Short piece. A summary of it:

Wealth inequality has attracted considerable attention in recent years. This column presents new historical evidence that revises earlier results and reveals long-term patterns. A key finding is that wealth has changed in nature over the past century: once held by the elite, it is now widely held in the form of housing and pension savings. These changes appear to account for the redistribution of wealth over the last century and the fact that its concentration has remained relatively low in more recent decades despite rapid increases in aggregate wealth.

"In defence of rational man"

I think this defense is needed. 

I admit I don't see much value in "behavioral economics" for a reason not even cited here. Individuals can be biased, illogical, irrational, stupid: fine. It's of some value to know these problems so that people can potentially improve their decision-making. But as far as economics is concerned, the effects of these individual problems tend to be minimized in markets. Market competition is excellent at lessening or quashing completely individual biases and irrationality. And to the extent that what we most care about in microeconomics is market behavior, I think mainstream economics benefits little from behavioral economics.