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Evidence that ethnic divisions are counterproductive. Literally.

Ray Fisman gets credit for the title, Jonas Hjort gets credit for his paper on how ethnic divisions on productivity: In team production at a plant in Kenya, an upstream worker supplies and distributes flowers to two downstream workers who assemble them into … Continue reading ? The post Evidence that ethnic divisions are counterproductive. Show More Summary

How to overcome writer’s block, by David Sedaris

Sometimes when I’m stuck, I’ll open an English textbook, and do the homework. There are a lot of college writing textbooks that will include essays and short stories, and after reading the story or essay, there will be questions such … Continue reading ? The post How to overcome writer’s block, by David Sedaris appeared first on Chris Blattman.

What does (European) schooling do to religious belief and practice?

A new paper from Pogorelova and Mocan: We exploit information on compulsory schooling reforms in 11 European countries, implemented in the 1960s and 70s, to identify the impact of education on religious adherence and religious practices. Show More Summary

Links I liked

What exactly is dry cleaning? (I actually did not know) xkcd on the IPhone predictive keypad The greatest books of all time, as voted by famous authors Everyone read this: Steven Pinker on why academic writing stinks This map of median … Continue reading ? The post Links I liked appeared first on Chris Blattman.

Links I liked

1/3 of Americans think the government spends more on foreign aid than Social Security or interest on debt A very good article on the Ebola crisis in WashPo An important, understudied topic: overconfidence in political behavior A wearable camera drone that … Continue reading ? The post Links I liked appeared first on Chris Blattman.

Graph of the day: Crayola Color Chart, 1903-2010

I’d like to imagine that the guy who first proposed the idea of a white crayon was laughed out the room. (Now I am going to get 46 tweets and emails explaining the many uses of the white crayon. There’s … Continue reading ? The post Graph of the day: Crayola Color Chart, 1903-2010 appeared first on Chris Blattman.

Digital Non-Cash

In the United States we are using advanced technology like fingerprint scans to pay for goods. In Venezuela they are using advanced technology like fingerprint scans to ration goods. Here is the WSJ: Amid worsening shortages, Venezuela recently reached a milestone of dubious distinction: It has joined the ranks of North Korea and Cuba in […]

The culture that is Republican

A party can deviate only so far from its core voters: Cutting federal health and retirement spending has long been at the top of the GOP agenda. But with Republicans in striking distance of winning the Senate, they are suddenly blasting the idea of trimming Social Security benefits. The latest attack came in Georgia, where […]

Matt Yglesias on publishing and ebooks

It is undeniably true that Amazon has a very large share of the market for e-books. What is not true is that Amazon faces a lack of competition in the digital book market. Barnes & Noble — a company that knows something about books — sells e-books, and does so in partnership with a small […]

Spatial competition among oligopolistic Jewish rebbes

Heilman, the expert in Hasidic succession, told me that one reason so many dynastic fights emerged in the past decade is that the grand rabbis are living longer, sometimes too long to have the vigor to conclusively determine whom their successors will be or so long that their increasingly entrenched institutional court refuses to cede […]

Assorted links

1. Chess piece survival rates. 2. How much do driverless cars depend on extensive and periodically revised mapping? 3. The French economy in eight charts. 4. How musical taste correlates with SAT scores. 5. Feeding McNuggets to food critics. 6. Robots vs. Ebola?

A Real Life Milgram Experiment

This amazing video, introduced by Philip Zimbardo, discusses a real world Milgram “experiment” in which people obeyed an authority figure to an astounding degree, even when the authority figure was just on the telephone. The video comes from the Heroic Imagination Project which hopes to use the results of social psychology to help people to take […]

Where’s my flying hoverboard? (Back to the Future)

From The Daily Beast: Greg and Jill Henderson, founders of Hendo, have developed a real hoverboard. Yes, the flying skateboard that millions of moviegoers have wished were real since Back to the Future Part II premiered back in 1989 may become the must-have Christmas gift for 2015. Using “hover engines” that create frictionless magnetic fields, the […]

China fact of the day

In 2002 Chinese investors spent just $2.7bn on acquisitions and greenfield projects abroad but by 2013 the total had increased 40-fold to $108bn. From Jamil Anderlini at the FT, there is more here.

Where is the external social value for marginal book reading?

Let’s assume books — at the margin of course — bring some external social value, perhaps by stimulating ideas production or by improving the quality of voting and citizenship.  If that were the case, at which margin should we look for this external benefit?  I can think of a few possibilities: 1. More books should be […]

Venezuela estimate of the day

Venezuela loses $728MM for each 1$ the oil price drops. Assuming oil @ $104 in 2014 and $96 in 2015 Vzla’s $ deficit in 2015 will be $27.8bn That is from Moisés Naim on Twitter.  Here is more on the same topic.

Evidence from opera on the efficacy of copyright

Michela Giorcelli and Petra Moser have a new paper, the abstract is this: This paper exploits variation in the adoption of copyright laws within Italy – as a result of Napoleon’s military campaign – to examine the effects of copyrights on creativity. To measure variation in the quantity and quality of creative output, we have […]

Assorted links

1. How much of financial fluctuations is behavioral? (pdf) 2. Moral licensing and portfolio effects. 3. Silly markets in everything. 4. Does feeling young and acting young make you young again? (speculative) 5. The English are now grumpy over their own rights in the UK.

Wedding ring and ceremony expenditures predict shorter marriage duration

There is a new paper from Andrew M. Francis and Hugo M. Mialon: In this paper, we evaluate the association between wedding spending and marriage duration using data from a survey of over 3,000 ever-married persons in the United States. Controlling for a number of demographic and relationship characteristics, we find evidence that marriage duration […]

What I’ve been reading

1. Doris Kearns, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism.  This Pulitzer-Prize winning book is compulsively readable and is most valuable on how the Roosevelt and Taft administrations fit together in American history.  I wish it had more detail on economic issues. 2. Walter Isaacson, The Innovators: How […]

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