The coming U.S. debt crisis

The Congressional Budget Office provides some gloomy news on the fiscal health of the federal government in their recent 2016 Long Term Budget Outlook.  They state: If current laws governing taxes and spending did not change, the United States would face steadily increasing federal budget deficits and debt over the next 30 years, according to projections…

Quality of Life and Prospect Theory

Prospect theory states that individuals view transactions relative to a fixed reference point.  Individuals are risk averse for gains (i.e., they would prefer $10 for sure over a 50/50 of winning $0 or $20) but risk loving over losses (i.e., they would prefer a 50/50 ‘lottery’ of losing $0 or $20 over a sure loss of $10.…

The Terrorist Economist?

Truth is stranger than fiction. The Washington Post reports: she’d seen had been her seatmate’s cryptic notes, scrawled in a script she didn’t recognize. Maybe it was code, or some foreign lettering, possibly the details of a plot to destroy the dozens of innocent lives aboard American Airlines Flight 3950. She may have felt it her duty to…

Is P4P doomed to fail?

There have been many pay-for-performance (P4P) programs that have been implemented to attempt to improve quality and reduce cost. The vast majority of these programs have not been able to demonstrate large or even any improvement in quality or cost. Some researchers claim that these programs have not worked due to the size of the…

Is Finland ending welfare?

Maybe yes.  According to City Journal: This year, the Finnish government hopes to begin granting every adult citizen a monthly allowance of €800 (roughly $900). Whether rich or poor, each citizen will be free to use the money as he or she sees fit. The idea is that people are responsible for their actions. If…

Temptation Goods

Your annual salary clearly affects how much you spend on different goods and services.  However, does the frequency with which you are paid affect the composition of goods you purchase?  For instance, do individuals paid on a weekly basis differ than those paid on a monthly basis? If people are perfectly rational–ignoring any small differences due…

Is Economics a Science?

That is the question addressed by in a paper by Colin Camerer and co-authors in Science. The authors repeated 18 economics experiments conducted in a laboratory setting. These articles were published in leading economics journals including the American Economic Review and the Quarterly Journal of Economics between 2011 and 2014. As The Economist reports, they…

Efficacy vs. Effectiveness vs. Efficiency

Efficacy describes the technical relationship between the technology and its effects (whether it actually works), whereas effectiveness concerns the extent to which application of an efficacious technology brings about desired effects (changes in diagnoses, altered management plans, improvement in health)…Efficiency is an economic concept which relates efficacy and effectivness to resource use.  Assessment of efficiency is…

Economists’ Declaration

In September 2015, 267 economists from 44 countries, led by Lawrence H. Summers of Harvard University, signed the Economists Declaration on Universal Health Coverage, which calls on global policymakers to prioritize a pro-poor pathway to universal health coverage as an essential pillar of sustainable development.  The full text is here.  An excerpt is below: Universal…