Posts Posts by: "Gigi Foster"

Policies that can be set in motion with little more than the stroke of a pen can be very seductive. That’s particularly true with policies that appear to have the same hue as some major social problem, since lawmakers can use that problem as a rationale for the policy, and hope that no one…(Read More)

Attention has recently been drawn, yet again, to the spectre of falling skills standards in Australia. This time, several commentators from inside and outside academia have picked up on a newly-released report by the Australian Industry group claiming that employers are loudly complaining about their workers’ literacy and numeracy skills. The AIG report contains…(Read More)

Those following the exploding story about Paul Frijters’ research on racism and UQ’s subsequent reaction to it might wonder, as I did: what exactly is in the “public interest disclosure” referred to in media reports (e.g.,…(Read More)

Criminal researchers?


Joshua Gans asked yesterday whether UQ suppressed the Mujcic/Frijters working paper on racism. In the comments to that piece, the possibility has been raised implicitly that the paper might have been suppressed because its authors employed unethical or illegal tactics in conducting their research. Two main concerns are raised. Let’s take them in…(Read More)

The spate of `Islamist’ violence recently perpetrated by individual people is a puzzle for mainstream economics. In the world of rational agents intent on maximizing their wealth, the destruction of human or material resources is only sensible when that destruction provides a direct competitive advantage. Why then would Homo Economicus walk into an office, market…(Read More)

As economists, it’s easy to for us to argue that our models account more than those of any other social science for the fundamental importance of need satisfaction in creating healthy societies. The pursuit of his own need satisfaction is at the heart of our model of the individual economic agent; when the economy…(Read More)

The website of the Economics Student Society of Australia, a grassroots society founded two years ago by students in Melbourne, is worth a look – and not only because I am writing a series of blogs for them this year, of which links to the first two are given below.  The aim of this series…(Read More)

No shoes allowed!


[NB – Joshua says the Core site has had some fits today that resulted in this original post being lost.  I have hence re-posted it below, along with three comments received so far. -gigi] Weary holiday party-goers will be all too familiar with the occasional request to take their shoes off upon entering a…(Read More)

Like most people, highly-skilled professionals are lazy. They can’t help leaning on excuses in order to avoid completely thinking a problem through. While this tendency is arguably benign in a well-functioning private market—where somebody will in fact find it in their interests to consider a problem from all angles, if it…(Read More)

The new book Paul Frijters and I have just released is an exercise in pattern recognition in the service of social science. My interview below with Tim Harcourt, the Airport Economist, gives a quick overview of some of its big themes. Launches still to come in Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne!…(Read More)

The “rational man” assumption of mainstream economics is alternately defended and pilloried presuming that it stands or falls on the capacity of a fully functional human adult to understand, and act on, his personal self-interest. Yet large chunks of our population are not fully functional adults. Do they have a role to play in…(Read More)

The price of morality


Notwithstanding the philosophical bent of some of its founding minds, including Adam Smith, mainstream economics today does not concern itself explicitly with matters of right and wrong. Of course, some general notion of “welfare maximization” is taken by the profession to be “right”, and by implication all alternative objectives are at least dubious if not…(Read More)

An epidemic is running riot through our university administrators in Australia. Infected individuals can be identified by their obsession with the quantity and quality of their university’s online course offerings; the mass emails they send with startling frequency advertising sundry “online resources” that they urge academics to take under advisement when planning their courses…(Read More)

The laid-back Australian work ethic – reflected in cultural throw-away lines like “too easy” and “she’ll be right mate” – may make some of us wince, but it’s probably on the whole healthier than the masochistic American work ethic of “get on the treadmill and go full-throttle until you wear out.” I…(Read More)

Most of us living in highly urbanized areas of Australia have had the experience of finding the dreaded Australia Post Ticket upon arriving home after work. No sooner do we see the ticket than we realize, feeling slightly sick, that we will most likely need to find time during working hours to physically go to…(Read More)

Camp fire


Summer camp. It’s a given part of childhood, even a rite of passage, for a large chunk of middle-class urban American kids, yet it has almost no analogue in Australia. For urban Aussie schoolchildren, the four instances per year of school holidays (three times two weeks, plus six weeks over the summer) are…(Read More)

The queen’s speech


Michelle Obama’s speech to the Democratic National Convention last week received wide acclaim, with some pundits even implying that her address opened the door for Michelle to be considered for the democratic ticket in 2016. The relatively large post-convention bump enjoyed by the democrats may or may not have been partly her doing…(Read More)

Economics, anyone?


This past Saturday I was tasked with coordinating the economics contingent at my university’s Open Day. This is the annual frenzy where university staff market their programs and disciplines to students who are just about to finish high school. In a frictionless world of course, I could have stayed home. Those looking to invest…(Read More)