What makes a great economist?

From John Maynard Keynes’ Essays in Biography: The study of economics does not seem to require any specialized gifts of an unusually high order. Is it not, intellectually regarded, a very easy subject compared with the higher branches of philosophy and pure science? Yet good, or even competent, economists are the rarest of birds. An…

How much is your life worth?

How much should we value life? This is the question put forth in an interesting book by Howard Steven Friedman called Ultimate Price. The book reviews how economists, policymakers, philosophers and others place a monetary value on life. This could be a value courts place when making awards in lawsuits due to harm or death,…

Queuing analyses in health care

Queuing models were developed by Agner Erlang in 1904 to help determine the capacity needed for the Dutch telephone system. Since health care systems often have to deal with capacity constrains and plan for unforeseen surges in demand, queuing theory provides a useful approach for many health care research questions. Also, these models are typically…

Does social distancing matter?

According to a working paper by Greenstone and Nigam (2020), the answer is a resounding yes! …we project that moderate social distancing would save 1.7 million lives between March 1 and October 1, with 630,000 due to avoided overwhelming of hospital intensive care units. Using the projected age-specific reductions in death and age-varying estimates of…