Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called “Is America’s Education Problem Really Just a Teacher Problem?” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.)
The gist: If U.S. schoolteachers are indeed “just a little bit below average,” it’s not really their fault. So what should be done about it? Read More »
The absolute number of vehicles reached a maximum in 2008. However, it is likely that this was only a temporary maximum and that the decline after 2008 was primarily driven by the current economic downturn that started in 2008. Consequently, with the improving economy and the expected increase in the U.S. population, it is highly likely that (from a long-term perspective) the absolute number of vehicles has not yet peaked.On the other hand, the rates of vehicles per person, licensed driver, and household reached their maxima prior to the onset of the current economic downturn. Consequently, it is likely that the declines in these rates prior to the current economic downturn (i.e., prior to 2008) reflect other societal changes that influence the need for vehicles (e.g., increases in telecommuting and in the use of public transportation). Therefore, the recent maxima in these rates have better chances of being long-term peaks as well.
But Sivak is smart enough to hedge his prediction:
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However, because the changes in the rates from 2008 on likely reflect both the relevant societal changes and the current economic downturn, whether the recent maxima in the rates will represent long-term peaks as well will be influenced by the extent to which the relevant societal changes turn out to be permanent.
In a recent New Yorker column, one of our best economics journalists, James Surowiecki, discusses Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to ban sales of soft drinks in containers exceeding 16 ounces. Mayor Bloomberg clearly believes, and Surowiecki seems to agree, that people would consume smaller amounts of soft drinks and fewer calories if a ban were enacted.
But would the effect result from behavioral considerations—many people will drink only one serving whether it is 8 oz. or 32 oz.? Or would it result from the second drink costing more time—the effort to get up and order a second 16-oz. drink after buying one—and more money—because the per-ounce price reflects the additional cost of serving two 16-oz. portions instead of one larger portion? Outside the laboratory, what many argue is evidence for behavioral economics can often be explained by standard neoclassical considerations of money and time costs in demand.
So it’s nearly official that Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York (and onetime member of a fantasy New York trifecta in the presidential race), will seek to overturn the city’s term limits in order to run for a third term as mayor. Here’s an A.P. article and here’s an excerpt from the New York […] Read More »
London has successfully instituted congestion pricing for private vehicles, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been trying very hard to do the same, but ran into stiff opposition from the public as well as political players. New York magazine reports, however, that Bloomberg has just gained an important ally: New York’s new governor, David […] Read More »
With this third and final post, we wrap up our day of divorce. Find our other D-day contributors here and here. History shows that we Americans generally like to elect politicians who have a stable family life, or at the least the appearance of one: a spouse, perhaps a couple of children, etc. Among candidates […] Read More »
The Wall Street Journal reports on a new World Health Organization study about cigarette smoking around the world. The Journal‘s piece includes data from Euromonitor International about the number of cigarettes sold worldwide by various manufacturers. Here are the numbers of cigarettes sold (in billions) in 2006 by Philip Morris: U.S./Canada: 184 Asia Pacific: 197 […] Read More »
From today’s Times: Mayor Bloomberg has approved a major facet of Roland Fryer‘s program for making learning “cool” for inner-city kids. Read More »