Democracy From Above

11Sep

At their best, democracies hold public officials accountable and reflect the will of the people. For countries with less mature democracies, national governments will sometimes mandate that local and state governments provide institutions that allow for citizen participation. Can this top-down approach to democracy improve civic engagement, or will it just provide a smoke screen for corrupt officials? What circumstances would lead a country to enact such reforms? In this episode, Stephanie McNulty of Franklin and Marshall College discusses the background behind mandatory participatory reforms featured in her upcoming book "Democracy From Above? The Unfulfilled Promise of Nationally Mandated Particpatory Reforms."

Gender Differences in Work-Home Spillover

28Aug

Work life and home life have a synergistic relationship. A good day at work can lead to better relationships at home and vice versa. Because the demands of parenthood change throughout the stages of a child's life, it only makes sense that this synergy changes as well. Katherine Lin of Dartmouth College joins us to talk about her recent paper "Working, Parenting, and Work-Home Spillover: Gender Differences in the work-home interface across the life course."

Read Katherine's paper here

An article discussing the evidence from Denmark mentioned in the episode

The Free Market Welfare State

20Jul

We often see economic policies being bundled together: one political party likes more regulation, high social spending, and overall government intervention in the economy; the other party favors less regulation and less government presence in the economy. But these different choices don't need to be packaged together. In fact, it's possible that high social spending can even reinforce and create more popular support for market-friendly policies. In this episode, Sam Hammond of the Niskanen Center talks about his recent paper "The Free Market Welfare State."

Read Sam's paper here: "The Free Market Welfare State"

Music provided by The Benevolent Dictators via their recent album "Silent Revolution" all about Adam Smith.

The Empiricists Strike Back

23Mar

There's a perception that economics has shifted away from theoretical work and more towards empirical research. New volumes of available data and increased computational power seem to have ushered in a new era of empiricism. But evidence shows that this is a false dichotomy and there is much more to the story. In this episode, Beatrice Cherrier of the University of Caen in France talks about how the relationship between theory and empirics has changed, how to better understand recent changes in economics academia, and the effect on policy.

Silent Revolution

19Jan

The Benevolent Dictators recently released their album "Silent Revolution" - 8 songs inspired by the works of 18th century Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith. Will joins bandmate Fraser Thompson to discuss the story behind each song's lyrics and how they fit into Smith's overall framework.

Find the album on bandcamp for free web streaming, digital download, and physical CD purchase.

Check out Spotify, Apple Music, and most other streaming services as well.

Available for digital purchase on iTunes.

Follow the band's Instagram account.

The Opioid Crisis and Household Availability

28Dec

The United States has seen an increase in opioid use and abuse the last few decades. Spurred on by changing economic conditions and prescription standards, the country is in the midst of what is being called an "opioid crisis." What are the signs that the US has reached crisis levels? What are some predictors of opioid use? And how does the availabilty of opioids around the house affect use? Marissa Seamans of Johns Hopkins University talks about the effect of household availability on opioid use and the general crisis nationwide.

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The Captured Economy

12Nov

Brink Lindsey and Steven Teles argue in their new book "The Captured Economy" that the last few decades have been characterized by an increase in political rent-seeking. Focusing on the financial sector, intellectual property laws, occupational licensure, and land use, they show how legislation has been captured by special interests in ways that slow growth and increase inequality. In this episode, Lindsey and Teles discuss how these policies distort various markets and cause upward redistribution, as well as the different ways we can work to better "rent-proof" our politics.

 

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Buy The Captured Economy here.

Vernon Smith on Adam Smith and Experimental Economics

7Oct

Nobel Laureate Vernon Smith pioneered the use of experimental economics - using laboratory settings to better understand decision-making and economic behavior. Some of his experiments suggested more to human behavior than is typically modeled by modern economic methodology. In this episode, Vernon discusses his work in experimental economics and how 18th century Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith helped him develop a more complete view of human nature.

Music provided by the Benevolent Dictators from their upcoming album all about Adam Smith

Stylized Facts and Inequality Discourse

2Oct

Generalized trends in real world observations can be boiled down to what are sometimes called "stylized facts," empirical regularities in search of theoretical and causal explanations. Simple statements like "democracies rarely go to war with each other" or "the share of income going to the top 1% has increased" enter into public discourse and eventually shape public policy. The process by which stylized facts go from raw observations to academic discourse to the public eye can be messy but incredibly influential on policy. Discourse regarding income inequality in the United States has specifically been shaped by the stylized facts that came out of available data during different periods. Dan Hirschman of Brown University discusses this process and its effects on public policy.

Nepalese Migration and Family Outcomes

24Aug

Political discourse on migration tends to focus on how the wages of natives in the receiving country respond to long-term migrants. In the case of Nepal, the story is a little different: a significant number of Nepalese men migrate temporarily to Gulf countries, sending remittances home but leaving women to run the households on their own. How does extra income affect the role of women in Nepalese communities? What does it mean for educational opportunities of the children? Nell Compernolle of the University of Michigan discusses the effects of this under-appreciated migration story and what insights it gives the world overall.

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