Saturday, November 16, 2013

US health outcomes

The whole "US pays more for worse health outcomes" always sounded too bad to be true, and doesn't jibe with all those accounts from Britain and other single-payer systems about having to wait months and months for urgent care. And based on this table from this presentation, which shocked me despite my prior expectation that health care is probably in fact better in the US than other places held up as models by single-payer advocates, it sure looks to me like that rhetoric is greatly exaggerated...

By the way, the most frequent statistics I hear quoted as part of that silly meme are related to life expectancy, and that presentation also shows that when you adjust those figures (as you obviously should) to remove fatal accidents, the US jumps from 19th to 1st in the OECD and Japan falls from 1st to 9th.

None of this, of course, has much to do with cost efficiency, and I'm guessing the US is pretty bad on that front, perhaps largely because it's richer and therefore spends more on healthcare and marginal benefit is decreasing. I'm not going to ignorantly speculate further, but wanted to at least point out I'm not making claims on that dimension.

[stolen from MR]

Friday, November 15, 2013

guaranteed minimum income

Hey, maybe it's more politically feasible than I'd hoped! Switzerland is considering a minimum income program!

The major, supremely disappointing thing about that article is the lack of any mention (in fact, an implication to the contrary) of implicit marginal tax rates. It's not that hard to talk about without economics jargon that it can conscionably be omitted from a new york times article on the topic.

The reason I like the idea of a guaranteed income (for everyone, no matter how rich or poor) as the social safety net is exactly because* it solves the problem of the perverse incentives to not work harder, not maintain financial stable relationships, not take care to only have children you can afford to take care of, etc, introduced by the patchwork of welfare programs that currently exist. Poor Americans have less incentive to work harder than anyone else, because the more money they make the fewer benefits they get from the government. Talk about a backasswards approach to the social safety net. A guaranteed income for everyone doesn't introduce the same perverse incentives.

(Unfortunately it seems like the Alberta experiment was still based on income, so it's not actually a guaranteed income policy at all. I hope to god that Switzerland tries it out and does it right.)

*at least, economically speaking. Morally speaking I also strongly prefer welfare policies that don't inadvertently punish responsibility... and of course, those two reasons are intimately related.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

forms and more forms

This is probably the funniest thing I'll encounter in this process of filling out 250 web applications for jobs:

"Email address (If you do not have an email address, please go to hotmail or yahoo to sign up for an internet email account):"


I know I shouldn't complain, because the economics job market is so fantastically organized compared to every other field. But why do 90% of schools insist on having their own application websites, 98% of which are built with exactly the same software, instead of just using I now have my four references' phone numbers memorized...

Someone please hire me so I can stop this nonsense.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

sexist pronouns

One nice thing about being female is that I can use "he" as the default singular pronoun to my heart's content without being accused of sexism :)

In lots of game theory models there are two players, which is perfect because one can be "he" and the other "she". But my job market paper models a single individual's choices in a game with an amorphous crowd of observers. So he's just a he. Gender balance be damned.

I respect my readers enough to trust that they will not read anything more into my pronoun use than convenience of language (which exists naturally in so many other gendered languages, just not English...)