This past weekend was a very busy one for our fellow blogger Andreas Ortmann. He embarked upon a new research program, his most ambitious ever. It is completely ‘blue sky’ exploratory work and is going to cost so much that the Australian Research Council will not fund the project. The review panel also noted that it lacks a control sample, that it did not include planned repetition, and that the use of models was apparently not entertained. So yes, Andreas has just tied the knot with my ex-schoolmate from MIT, Kyoung-hee Yu. In a room filled with economist and management scholars who managed to get along without incident (probably because of the lawyers and an anthropologist who kept the truce), Andreas and Kyoung-hee began their journey together with lots of wine, a delicious cake, and lots of rejoicing. Congratulations Andreas and Kyoung-hee. May your journey together be filled with happiness.
Some spammers hit the feed on my post yesterday. This is just a post to see if it happens again.
In today’s Age, Ross Gittins argues the economic case for less immigration based on the impact on the environment and aggregate demand. But he commits a surprising sin: he fails to consider what the best way to manage aggregate demand and the environment would be as opposed to pointing out what immigration does to them. Indeed, he claims that immigration accounts for half of our population growth. But it is population growth that is the bigger issue. And the obvious solution is to curtail the other half of population growth — the so-called natural half. Let me edit his article accordingly:
immigrationbirth adds more to the demand for labour than to its supply.
migrantfamilies with children add to demand, but only the individuals who work add to supply.
Migrantfamilies with children need food, clothing, shelter and other necessities. They also add to the need for social and economic infrastructure: roads, schools, health care and all the rest.
Another factor is that their addition to demand comes earlier than their addition to labour supply. The rate of unemployment among recent
immigrantsbabies is significantly higher than for the labour force generally.
Of course, I have to spot there because the rest is about skilled migration and let’s face it, babies ain’t skilled. So the case here is for reduced natural population growth as opposed to immigration.
Indeed, that case becomes stronger. Here is Gittin’s argument on the environment:
It’s obvious that one of the quickest and easiest ways to reduce the growth in our emissions — and make our efforts to cut emissions more effective overall — would be to reduce immigration.
It is not obvious at all. It is simply wrong. If people cause emissions and emissions are a global problem, then at first glance moving people from one country to another neither helps nor harms the environment.
I note by way of interest that Henry Ergas has responded to my comments taking issue with some of his initial thoughts on the ACCC’s draft merger guidelines. He notes that my (i) argument that studies of vertical mergers may be biased towards seeing them as favourable may not be so strong (especially as bad mergers get through: something I argued was the case with AGL-Loy Yang) and (ii) that AGL-Loy Yang wasn’t a bad merger. I can see his point on (i) but that reduces but doesn’ eliminate such biases. On (ii), I refer back to my recent work with Frank Wolak that actually looks back at what happened after AGL-Loy Yang and confirms that the ACCC’s predictions of 20 percent price rises were largely borne out. In any case, I reiterate my view that it is precisely because vertical mergers have ambiguous consequences that merits the ACCC spending extra time being extra clear in how they will look at them and such emphasis is not misplaced. (By the way, one of these days Henry Ergas and I might agree on something. Will that mean we are both right or both wrong?)
In my day, when you wanted to look at the Universe you needed to secure yourself a reasonable telescope, trapse out late at night in the cold and try and search the sky for something interesting with the un-naked eye. There was slim pickings and you would have to be really lucky to actually work out what you were looking at. Well, take a look at this video from TED. Kids today can just sit inside and take an informed tour of the Universe using the best images from telescopes around the world. Of course, it’s not ‘real time’ as you would see with a telescope in the backyard with views of galaxies precisely as they were thousands of years ago.
Today is February 29th. Given that it comes only once every four years, that would make it a rare birthday. But it is even rarer. As Andrew Leigh and I discovered in our research, the birthrate on this day is about 10% lower than if it was an ordinary Friday. Why? Parents like to move their children’s birthdays off days like this and on to something more regular. Of course, today they might get some resistance from their doctors who don’t want those births pushed on to the weekend, so it isn’t as rare as ‘normal’ leap days. [Thanks to Andrew for the reminder].