In the Papers: Data Sets Conforming to Benford’s Law

This is a review of R.C. Hall's Properties of Data Sets that Conform to Benford's Law. This is a math-heavy article which lays out proofs of certain properties you would expect from a dataset which follows Benford's Law. I've found the principle of Benford's Law interesting, with blog posts back in 2015 and 2019 on…

In The Papers: Inventive Activity

Naomi Lamoreaux, Kenneth Sokoloff, and Dhanoos Sutthiphisal have a working paper entitled, The Reorganization of Inventive Activity in the United States during the Early Twentieth Century. Abstract: The standard view of U.S. technological history is that the locus of invention shifted during the early twentieth century to large firms whose in-house research laboratories were superior…

In The Papers: IQ and Economic Growth

Garret Jones, R.W. Hafer, and Bradley K. Hobbs are getting awfully close to thoughtcrime with their paper, IQ and the Economic Growth of U.S. States. Abstract: In the cross-country literature, cognitive skills are robust predictors of economic growth. We investigate claims by psychologists that the same is true at the state level. In a variety of specifications using four proxies for average state IQ used in the psychology literature, little…

In The Papers: Those Dishonest Economists

I have a lot of respect for George Selgin's academic research, and his paper entitled Those Dishonest Goldsmiths is a good reason why. Abstract: Modern accounts of the origins of fractional-reserve banking, in economics textbooks and elsewhere, often assert that London goldsmiths came up with the idea around the middle of the 17th century, and first implemented…

In The Papers: Public Sector Unionism

Eileen Norcross has a working paper out entitled, Public Sector Unionism:  A Review. In 2009, for the first time, the number of public sector union employees was larger than the number of private sector union employees (1).  Norcross argues that we need to understand private-sector and public-sector unions as two separate phenomena.  Private unions are…

In The Papers: Human Action

Gene Callahan has a relatively old paper that I just recently found, entitled Oakeshott and Mises on Understanding Human Action. Abstract: Although Michael Oakeshott and Ludwig von Mises were arguably two of the more profound theorists of human activity in the twentieth century, there has been remarkably little comparative study of their ideas. That is…

In The Papers: Trial By Battle

Pete Leeson continues to amaze me.  First, he defends ordeals.  Now, he defends trial by battle. Abstract: For over a century England's judicial system decided land disputes by ordering disputants' legal representatives to bludgeon one another before an arena of spectating citizens. The victor won the property right for his principal. The vanquished lost his…

In The Papers: Keeping It In The Family

Alberto Alesina and Paola Giuliano have a paper out entitled Family Ties and Political Participation. Abstract: We establish an inverse relationship between family ties and political participation, such that the more individuals rely on the family as a provider of services, insurance, transfer of resources, the lower is one’s civic engagment and political participation. We…

In The Papers: Not Biting The Hand That Feeds You

Suppose that you run a newspaper and one of your primary advertisers is the government.  You then get wind of a corruption scandal involving members of said government.  Do you alienate your sponsor or quash the story?  This is the real question Rafael Di Tella and Ignacio Franceschelli ask in Government Advertising and Media Coverage…

In The Papers: Mere Quibbles

Note to self:  never make George Selgin mad.  Selgin, in Mere Quibbles, lays the smack down on Philipp Bagus and David Howden. Abstract: Despite its title, Philipp Bagus and David Howden's critique of The Theory of Free Banking does more than merely "quibble" with that book's arguments: their criticisms of those arguments are such as…