I recently came across this interesting blog post, in which the author describes his experience dealing with state insurance regulators in the US. He points out that regulators are often ignorant of even the most basic statistical techniques used in the industry. This is a good post to get a sense of what regulation often looks like in practice.
There has been a lot of discussion recently about surveys based on online non-probability samples. Pew Research Center recently published a study that compared a bunch of surveys of that sort with a survey based on a probability sample and a variety of benchmarks. It turns out that online non-probability samples are very heterogeneous, but that some of them do pretty good. This is also relevant to my post about antisemitic violence in Europe, where I relied on a non-probability online sample, so I added a note at the end.
Pseudoerasmus recently published a very detailed post, in which he tries to explain why Japan’s textile had become the world’s dominant exporter by the 1930’s while Indian’s textile industry stagnated, even though they had similar levels of productivity at the beginning of the 20th century. He argues that the main cause of this divergence is that workers had much more bargaining power in India than in Japan, so that they were able to successfully demand high wages relative to effort, whereas Japanese capitalists were able to squeeze more labor out of their workers relative to their wages and, in particular, to make them operate more machines. Thus, the difference was not that India’s textile industry lacked the technological innovations that Japan’s textile industry relied on to sustain its growth during that period, but that Indian capitalists were prevented from increasing the share of capital in production by workers, who frequently struck to maintain high employment and low effort, even if that meant lower wages. He also examines how culture and the state explains why workers had more bargaining power in India than in Japan. This post is really economic history at its best. Not only does it shed light on a very important historical phenomenon (the divergence between India and Japan during this period), but it also shows how factors that are often ignored by economic models (namely labor relations and the cultural/political context which affects them) play a very important role.
Andrew Sullivan recently published a very good essay on the rise of tribalism in New York Magazine. I don’t agree with everything he says, but if this were not the case, it would probably mean that he didn’t do a good job. I want to discuss this topic at some point, though I don’t know when.
I recently came across this critical post about Cordelia Fine’s latest book, which I already mentioned several times here. I think it’s very good and encourage you to read it. If you liked the post, you can also follow the author on Twitter, where he is pretty active.