Monday, November 29, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pew Research on Marriage

Marriage is declining. Wow. That is a relief. I now feel less societal pressure to get married. Though I wonder if the Pew's research fully addresses Wolfers usual concerns? Thanks to the wonderful blog Chart Porn for the tip.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wolfers on Marriage

Justin Wolfers sets the record straight on the recession's affect on marriage.


A more nuanced view of immigration than the one painted by a simple solow model.


I love the work done at OKtrends.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010


Today means so little for your future happiness. Mostly because we are bad at predicting our future happiness. Here is a snippet from PT:
The evidence is pretty clear, though, that big positive and negative events don't have an enormous impact on people's happiness. In a 1998 paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Dan Gilbert, Tim Wilson, and their colleagues found that college faculty being evaluated for tenure believed they would be quite unhappy if they were denied tenure. Several months after their tenure decision, though, college faculty who had been denied tenure were no less happy than those who had gotten tenure.

This finding, that we believe future positive and negative events have a bigger impact on our future happiness than they do, is called an affective forecasting error. One thing about these errors that is not well understood: Why don't they go away over time? We all have experience with these errors. As a kid, I remember toys that I really wanted because I had seen them in a catalog. When I actually got one of those toys, though, it was never quite the life-changing experience I expected. So, why don't examples like this get rid of affective forecasting errors?

This question was explored in a November 2010 paper in the Journal of Experimental Psychology by Tom Meyvis, Rebecca Ratner, and Jonathan Levav.

These researchers find that people have difficulty remembering their initial prediction for how they would feel after a positive or negative event. In one study, they asked voters in the 2008 election how they would feel a week after the election if Barack Obama won. Supporters of John McCain rated that they would be quite unhappy. A week after the election, these same voters were contacted again and asked how happy they were. They were also asked to recall how happy they said they would be before the election. These voters were significantly happier than they predicted they would be (that is the affective forecasting error). They also remembered their prediction as being less extreme than it was. That is, they did not remember predicting that they would be very unhappy.

The researchers demonstrated that this poor memory for previous predictions makes it hard for people to learn to predict better in the future. In this study, some people were reminded of their initial prediction, and those people who were reminded of what they actually predicted showed smaller affective forecasting errors in the future.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Calories In - Calories Out

Its that simple. I once lost 10 pounds eating only McDonalds. Take that Morgan Spurlock. Here a nutrition professor tries twinkies. He seems shocked that he lost weight. Really? As a first approximation economists have known this for a long time.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Decriminalizing Drugs

Portugal provides a good case study. Some predictable conclusions from a recent study:
In the Portuguese case, the statistical indicators and key informant interviews that we have reviewed suggest that since decriminalization in July 2001, the following changes have occurred:

* small increases in reported illicit drug use amongst adults;
* reduced illicit drug use among problematic drug users and adolescents, at least since 2003;
* reduced burden of drug offenders on the criminal justice system;
* increased uptake of drug treatment;
* reduction in opiate-related deaths and infectious diseases;
* increases in the amounts of drugs seized by the authorities;
* reductions in the retail prices of drugs.

Alienating 2%

According to Seth Godin:
Do the math. Every time Apple delights 10,000 people, they hear from 200 angry customers, people who don't like the change or the opportunity or the risk it represents.
If you have fans or followers or customers, no matter what you do, you'll annoy or disappoint two percent of them. And you'll probably hear a lot more from the unhappy 2% than from the delighted 98.
It seems as though there are only two ways to deal with this: Stop innovating, just stagnate. Or go ahead and delight the vast majority.
What does this mean for Student Evaluation of Instructors? Shouldn't we expect faculty to piss off some of the students? Shouldn't all 5's on a 5 point scale mean something about the innovation of the instructor?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Data and FB

The cool things you can discover with data available on the web. Among them, you can discover when people breakup. Check out the seasonality.

Monday, November 01, 2010