Links – 06/11/2017

  • Nicholas Wades of the New York Times discusses research about the Y chromosome which suggests that some of the differences between males and females could originate from the role played by regulative genes on the X and Y chromosomes.
  • The Boston Review published a good essay on why economists have not engaged as much as you would think with Piketty’s book on inequality. On this book, I recommend Deirdre McCloskey’s superb, but critical, review. (I already mentioned this review, which goes far beyond Piketty’s book, in my post about slavery and capitalism.) Robert Solow also published a good, positive review, which explains Piketty’s central argument very well. It also makes it very clear that Piketty is equivocating between capital as factor of production and capital as wealth, but although he explains that disctinction, Solow doesn’t really discuss that problem, which I remember finding very puzzling since I can’t imagine that he didn’t realize it was a problem. My advice is to first read Solow’s review and only then McCloskey’s.
  • Jason Delisle wrote a good piece which argues that people overestimate the impact of disinvestment in higher education by the states on tuition and underestimate the of effect of public loans to students.
  • Thomas Edsall has a good write-up on recent analyses of Clinton’s defeat by Democratic-affiliated strategists. I don’t agree with everything, though I agree with a lot, but it has links to a lot of interesting pieces. You should also have a look at this exchange I had with a commenter about Trump’s victory not so long ago. I argue that, if they don’t want to have another bad surprise in 2020, Democrats should stop looking at Trump’s margins of victory in the states that determined the outcome and focus on the magnitude of the swing instead. Some of the links shared by Adam during the course of that exchange are also worth checking out.
  • A team of paleoanthropologists recently discovered 300,000 years old Homo sapiens fossils in Morocco, which suggests that our species is much older than we thought.

One thought

  1. One thing that I find strange about Solow, and I guess Piketty (I haven’t actually read his book, although I read a number of reviews), is that they don’t discuss actual inheritance patterns at all. In order for wealth to become or remain concentrated, a society has to practice primogeniture, and Western societies do not. So great fortunes are generally spread among multiple heirs, and dissipated within a few generations (even assuming that no significant part goes to hookers and cocaine, as sometimes happens). If you look at the great robber baron fortunes, you will find that essentially all of them are now owned by a large number of people each of whom is no more than upper middle class. It’s nice to inherit $5 or $10 million to go with your degree from (say) Davidson or Colby, but it doesn’t enable you to subvert the democratic system or anything.

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