Sunday, June 30, 2019

The sadness of cancellation

Modern-day mourning from McSweeney's.

Paper: Expertise and Independence on Governming Boards


Expertise and Independence on Governing Boards:Evidence from School Districts
Ying Shi and John Singleton
IZA Discussion Paper No. 12414

Abstract: In this paper, we study the roles of expertise and independence on governing boards in the context of education. In particular, we examine the causal influence of professional educators elected to local school boards on education production. Educators may bring valuable human capital to school district leadership, thereby improving student learning. Alternatively, the independence of educators may be distorted by interest groups. The key empirical challenge is that school board composition is endogenously determined through the electoral process. To overcome this, we develop and implement a novel research design that exploits California’s randomized assignment of the order that candidates appear on election ballots. The insight of our empirical strategy is that ballot order effects generate quasi-random variation in the elected school board’s composition. This approach is made possible by a unique dataset that combines election information about California school board candidates with district-level data on education inputs and outcomes. The results reveal that educators on the school board causally increase teacher salaries and reduce district enrollment in charter schools relative to other board members. We do not find accompanying effects on student test scores. We interpret these findings as consistent with educators on school boards shifting bargaining in favor of teachers’ unions.

This sounds like a clever way to produce some good evidence on an old and important question. Plus it confirms my prior.

Book: Mao Zedong by Jonathan Spence

Spence, Jonathan. 1999. Mao Zedong. Penguin Lives.

I have read several of the Penguin Lives mini-biographies and enjoyed them all for what they are. This one left me much more informed about Mao's life prior to the communist takeover in 1949 but not as informed as I would have liked about Mao's intellectual development in the years leading up to his serious involvment in the communist party. The good news is that several much thicker biographies await in the bookcase.

Amazon book page
Barnes and Noble book page

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Fertility thought for the day


From the Byward Market in Toronto, a few years ago.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Milwaukee Art Museum


It is hard to see, but the artist on this lovely glass object is called "Toots", which is a truly excellent (and surely under-used) name for an artist.

We really enjoyed our fist visit to the museum yesterday. The collection is rich and varied, the staff have a low-key Wisconsin vibe, the building is astounding, and it is, as it turns out, a great place to watch a thunderstorm roll over Lake Michigan (as you can see a bit in the background of the photo).

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Economics moment of zen: journal title edition

From an AEJ: Policy desk reject letter:
"Despite these advantages, the specific focus on policy evaluation is not a good fit for the general readership of AEJ: Policy."

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Book: Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times by Mark Leibovich

Leibovich, Mark. 2018. Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times. Penguin Press.

The author is NYT reporter (who normally covers politics); as a result, he obtains amazing access into the world of NFL owners and players, particularly Tom Brady. He is a Pats fan, but a very sarcastic and self-aware one. Think of this as a snarky ethnography of the world of NFL owners and you will not go far wrong.

Recommended as bedtime / beach reading if such a thing sounds appealing.

Amazon book page
Barnes and Noble book page

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Book: Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero

Cowen, Tyler. 2019. Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero. St. Martin's Press.

If you like Tyler's posts on Marginal Revolution, then you will like this. It is thoughtful, wide-ranging, suprising, and academically informed but not written for academics.

Footnote 12 of Chapter 9 was perhaps my favorite bit of the book - not sure why it ended up in the notes rather than the main text. One pair of good sentences: "The irony is that American popular culture is itself, for the most part, big business at its core. One of the best arguments against trusting big business is the (largely inaccurate) portrayel of business from popular culture itself."

Recommended.

Amazon book page
Barnes and Noble book page

Friday, June 7, 2019

Great moments in understatement: econometrics edition

"... these bounds are in princpal identified, although the infinite-dimensional optimization problem that defines them may complicate estimation ..."

From Frandsen and Lefgren (2018)