Wednesday, March 31, 2010

If you like xkcd, then you might like this or this.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

‘Head Start’: The $166 Billion Fed Ed Failure. The central result is that at the end of first grade, the HHS detected no benefit, cognitive or behavioral, for the children, nor for the parents.

This does not rule out the possibility of benefits only apparent later. For example, maybe Head Start makes boys less likely to end up in jail as adults. Of course, this is very speculative, hardly justifying the Head Start budget. We have good evidence now that Head Start is a glorified day-care subsidy, so why not slash the budget and voucherize the remainder?

In general, improvements in education are extremely hard to scale up. I wish I had conclusive evidence for a theory of exactly why this is so.

Two-sided markets. The interesting example discussed here concerns the fees merchants pay when their customers use a credit card. Oversimplifying things, Visa offers consumers (and banks) a good deal; Visa gets huge market share; Visa extracts a monopoly rent from merchants.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sometimes I put off linking to something interesting I read. (I have the perfect excuse: I've got real work to do.) The downside is that when I get around to linking to something, it's not as new. The upside is that after waiting, I decide to never link to many things, producing---I hope---a higher-quality remnant.

Discounting and the value of a (stochastic) life.

Men without work.

Are there secular reasons?

10 myths about Russian demography.

Defining the national debt.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Three studies -- by Accenture, the Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey and Co. -- reviewed the Postal Service's books and presented 50 options for cuts and new services. The agency's business model is so poor, consultants concluded, that privatizing it is untenable.

Monday, March 01, 2010

It's seems that after a few years I again find myself unable to resist the urge to link to cartograms: here, here, and here.