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America’s biggest teacher and principal cheating scandal unfolds in Atlanta

Thanks to Jerry Bower (111-04) for this link on the standardized test cheating scandal in Alanta – a good connection to our discussion of strong incentives. The article highlights the pressure coming from school principals and administration rather than teachers.

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Labor Markets: Airline pilots

This article in the Wall Street Journal predicts an in increase in pilot salaries, a shortage of pilots (because even higher salaries won’t enable pilots to train immediately), higher airline prices, and potentially riskier flights with some airlines.

This new regulation would be a good one to try modeling using either the competitive labor market model to see the impact on pilot salaries of the two shocks (high retirement rates and new regulation) or a competitive goods market model to see the impact of higher pilot salaries on airline prices.

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World Toilet Day: November 19

World Aid has created a powerful short film to highlight the difficulties facing many women who lack access to improved sanitation facilities (toilets). I don’t usually post activist items but with today being World Toilet Day and my own research focusing on water and sanitation, I am making an exception.


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Clean Water Act: Happy 40th Anniversary!

Today – October 19, 2012 – marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. These two articles provide a brief history of the Act and argue that the Clean Water Act focused on those polluters and pollutants that were most harmful and could be removed at lowest cost. We now face the challenge of removing pollutants that are more costly to remove and finding ways of improving water quality at lowest cost.


Presidential debate: Energy & the Environment

This article connects nicely to both 1) my post-debate comment in class regarding the need to listen carefully to how data is being used in an argument and 2) our economics analysis of climate change as a problem of negative externality.

The article highlights how even accurate arguments can hide greater subtlety that can change the conclusion one might draw. It also highlights the absence of climate change as a topic discussed during the debate.

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Economists views differ by gender – on some issues

This USA Today article discusses recent research by Ann Mari May showing that economists share similar views on some issues (e.g. all agree that military spending is too high) but disagree on others.


Assignment Question on The Darwin Economy

In The Darwin Economy, Robert Frank argues that a (if not the) main reason that market equilibrium might diverge from maximum social welfare is that people take into account positional concerns when making many decisions. This results in optimal individual decisions that are not optimal social decisions. Individuals would benefit from policies that prevent them taking positional concerns into account (or raise the cost of doing so).

Can you provide examples of decisions for which positional concerns might play a significant role? Are there decisions where positional concerns are not likely to be of much importance?

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Where Will the World’s Poor Live?

Most of the world’s poor now live in middle income countries, making the development challenge one of addressing domestic income distribution rather than aid from one country to another. The working paper provides an “Update on Global Poverty and the New Bottom Billion”:


The Fiscal Cliff Is Not as Steep As It Seems

Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research, explains the impact in terms of tax increases and spending cuts that will follow a policy that lets the Bush tax cuts expire: In doing so, he explains the different impact of tax cuts for the richest 2% and ‘bottom’ 98% along with the different impact of cuts in discretionary and military spending. While largely touching on macro issues, this article connects to micro topics on incentives and taxes and subsidies.

For your calendars: Dean Baker will be coming to Dickinson to discuss this issue on November 7th.


Saving the olive ridley sea turtle

This article explains how incentives are being changed as a way to encourage the conservation of olive ridley sea turtles in El Salvador: The article covers all the issues we discussed in class the first week of the semester regarding elephant conservation. (If you cannot access the link, you may need to register. Access is free for all Dickinson students.)

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