Social Sciences and Economics

Economics and the Vicious Dating Scene

April 24, 2007 | 13 comments
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Diminishing Returns: Once things start going downhill, bail. Increasing Returns: It can only get better. Read more »

Markets and Consumer Activism

April 11, 2007 | 56 comments
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With fair regularity, one hears someone talking of efforts to buy less of some commercial product, either out of a desire for global conservation or because he doesn’t like how it is produced or whatever. Invariably, he comments that his own effect on the market is small, but he wishes to “send a message” or help along some broader movement. Within a plausible model of markets. there are easily understood conditions under which this small effect is actually zero, and remains zero even if he is joined by many like-minded individuals. At which point one wonders if the “message”... Read more »

Fixing the Minimum Wage

November 9, 2006 | 153 comments
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It seems pretty clear that we are heading for a hike in the minimum wage. For the many of us who care about poverty reduction, which would be basically all of us, this could be a big deal. The problems with the minimum wage are that it: Read more »

The Opportunity Cost of Publishing

October 25, 2006 | 16 comments
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In this excellent post, Rosalynde talks about the gender differences in subject material among Deseret Book writers. This renews the discussion brought up by Taryn Nelson-Seawright on the same difference existing in other Mormon outlets. Explanations abound for this phenomena, ranging from differing preferences to piggy discrimination, but most of them are sort of boring. Here’s one that is at least slightly more interesting: Read more »

Why Europeans look lazy

September 13, 2006 | 71 comments
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It is a well established fact that Europeans perform vastly less formal market work than Americans. A less known fact is that this is a recent development— in the late 50s, Europeans worked about 10% more hours, but this has been in steady decline for 40 years, until now they work about 30% fewer hours than Americans. Read more »

Camels, Needles, Heaven

July 26, 2006 | 36 comments
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Rich people who pay tithing are, by all accounts, still losers compared to the poor. Or, anyway, though their ten percent is a lot more money, it is money that had little effect on their life and so is not a very impressive sacrifice. Thus their salvation is put in jeapardy by diminishing marginal returns! How does the Kingdom deal with this? Read more »

How Wrong is it to Compare Yourself with Others?

July 21, 2006 | 38 comments
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A growing body of research (mine own included) in various social sciences finds that people report higher happiness levels when they do better than the people around them. Read more »

O’Dea’s The Mormons Part II: The Edited Volume Retrospective

July 17, 2006 | 3 comments
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The Mormon Social Science Association, under the direction of editors John Hoffman, Cardell Jacobsen, and Tim Heaton of BYU’s Department of Sociology, is currently putting together a volume of essays that retrospectively assess O’Dea’s 1957 classic The Mormons. Read more »

O’Dea’s The Mormons Part I: Strain and Conflict in the Church

July 14, 2006 | 32 comments
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Thomas F. O’Dea’s The Mormons (1957) is a classic text in Mormon studies. So much that the Mormon Social Science Association is currently putting together an edited volume Read more »

Peak oil and taxes

May 22, 2006 | 22 comments
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On the Urban thread, Jonathan Green pointed out that the major issue with oil scarcity may not be how much oil we have in the ground, but how much we can pump in a given year. If we are maxed out on supply for a year, any oil disaster creates a huge crunch. Read more »

The Real Danger?

April 5, 2006 | 75 comments
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Read more »

Tomorrow morning, at 2 AM

April 2, 2006 | 23 comments
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Once a year, after enduring a grueling six hours of church in one day, I lay down to sleep knowing that during the wee hours of the night I will be robbed of one whole hour. It is time to forever abolish Daylight Saving Time. Read more »

Defining terrorism

March 29, 2006 | 25 comments
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By request, this morning I am going to talk about defining terrorism. The first important thing you need to realize is that there is no single widely accepted definition, either in academia or in the policy world. Everyone uses their own. So we’re going to talk about how you can build your own definition of terrorism. Read more »

Market Dominant Minorities in the Book of Mormon

March 16, 2006 | 42 comments
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Market Dominant Minorities Read more »

The Mormon Bankrupt

February 25, 2006 | 76 comments
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Utah has a very high rate of bankruptcy. In 2000 it hovered at around 7 filings per thousand people– twice the national average. This lonely fact has launched a thousand explanations for why Mormons have such a problem with defaulting on their creditors. Clearly, the thinking seems to be, this shows some of the rot in the Kingdom. Just as clearly, this view has very little support in the data. Read more »

Is Poverty Satanic?

February 9, 2006 | 79 comments
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One of the most important scriptural texts for the theological consideration of poverty is to be found in Alma 32. This chapter discusses Alma’s mission to the Zoramites. During a sermon on the hill Onidah, Alma is approached by a group of impoverished individuals who were “poor in heart, because of their poverty as to the things of the world” (v. 4). In effect, because of poverty and social exclusion, these people had become an ideal audience for Alma’s missionary efforts. So the question arises: Is poverty therefore a virtuous force, bringing people to Christ who would otherwise reject... Read more »

On being a bookkeeper in Zion

December 29, 2005 | 57 comments
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As a young missionary, the Lord saw fit to inflict on me one the greatest trials that can afflict a Latter-day Saint: He forced me to become educated about Church financial controls and auditing procedures. Read more »

Give to the Beautiful

November 28, 2005 | 67 comments
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We had a seminar recently from an experimental economist out of the University of Chicago. He has done a variety of cool things using field experiments. Let me mention the one he presented. The experiment involved sending people door to door to do fund raising for a (real) charity. The fundraisers (who were college students) were paid $10/hour. Men averaged about $9/hour in donations. There was little correlation between their productivity and their appearance. Pretty women got about $17/hour in donations. Read more »

Choose Your Own Adventure

November 18, 2005 | 114 comments
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Let’s play a game. You can choose between two jobs. One pays $50,000 and the other pays $100,000. You know, or can guess, that if you take the first you will give about $5,000/yr in fast offerings and other gifts to the poor. If you make $100,000 you will give about $15,000. You will also pay several thousand more dollars in taxes, but we’ll set that aside. So in one case, you consume about $45,000 and in the other, you consume about $85,000. Which do you take? Read more »

Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten

November 11, 2005 | 38 comments
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Clearly, were there to be a famine, a one year food supply in the basement would look really good. What may be slightly less obvious is that the presence of food storage, even if nobody ever uses any of it for an emergency, can stop a famine from ever actually happening. Read more »

Someone’s got it in for me, they’re planting stories in the press

October 26, 2005 | 15 comments
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I see that Slate now puts the odds of Harriet Miers confirmation at 70%. Silly Slate, don’t they know that niche is taken? As I’ve mentioned before, the best bet, literally, is to follow the gamblers. And as of press time, they are betting that Miers has a 3 in 10 chance of making it to the Big Bench. Want a second opinion? It’s pretty much the same as the first. Read more »

Health Care: What to Do?

September 15, 2005 | 121 comments
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This from a new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research Educational Trust: “The average cost of health insurance for a family of four has soared past $10,800 — exceeding the annual income of a minimum-wage earner, according to a survey released Wednesday.” Read more »

I Shall Be Free

July 19, 2005 | 25 comments
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I got my bill today and it turns out that there really is something cheaper than a Germanist these days. Read more »

The happiest place on Earth

June 24, 2005 | 31 comments
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is Ireland.* Really. Read more »

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Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.