Mourning Thatcher in Estonia

An Estonian Public Broadcasting news article about the death of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher noted her efforts to help Estonia's early independent government break with Soviet-era policies. It also included the following:

Of the three, it was Thatcher's economic policies in particular that were often cited by Mart Laar, the country's prime minister who came to power after the first post-independence parliamentary elections, as the blueprint for his free-market reforms.

In 2010, Laar told the Freakonomics Radio podcast: "The flat tax I got on my first meeting with Margaret Thatcher, who I admired very much and who was a great admirer of Milton Friedman. I met her first when I had been prime minister I think for some months and so on, and when I told her what I am planning to do, she looked at me with these big eyes and said 'you are one brave young man.' And then a little bit introduced me on the realities of the Western world on which I was not very well informed. But I didn’t stop."

Freakonomics podcast listeners may recall that Laar appeared on one of our earliest podcasts "What Would the World Look Like if Economists Were in Charge?"

Evidence on School Choice

Economists, long inspired by Milton Friedman and others, generally embrace the concept of school choice. But actual evidence on its efficacy has been thin.

A new working paper by Justine S. Hastings, Christopher A. Neilson, and Seth D. Zimmerman, using data from a low-income urban school district, offers some encouraging news for choice advocates:

[W]e use unique daily data on individual-level student absences and suspensions to show that lottery winners have significantly lower truancies after they learn about lottery outcomes but before they enroll in their new schools. The effects are largest for male students entering high school, whose truancy rates decline by 21% in the months after winning the lottery.

How do the authors interpret this finding?

Dream On, Valiant Austrian! An Economics Sonnet

This comes from reader Alex Entz:

I wrote a Shakespearean sonnet in iambic pentameter about economics for an English class of mine at Northwestern this past quarter and, spurred on by the rash of "Fed Valentines," thought I'd take a decidedly Austrian approach. Now that the class is done, I figured that I should pass it along to some people who, unlike my English professor, would perhaps appreciate its economic aspects more than its rhythmic and metrical aspects.

Hayek Propped Up by Government Intervention

Sunday's New York Times reported on attempts by the Texas Board of Education to rewrite the high school curriculum in accordance with its conservative values. So I find the raw ideological force exerted by these "educators" to be both striking and dispiriting.

Serious Academic Debate

Only at the University of Chicago. A while back, the university made plans to start a Milton Friedman Institute. It has been the source of some controversy. The latest installment is reported in the student newspaper, the Chicago Maroon. The beginning of the article is a little boring — but definitely read to the end, […]

No Free Lunch, Even for Royalty

L. Gordon Crovitz writes in today’s Wall Street Journal about the dispute at the University of Chicago over whether to name its new institute after Milton Friedman. In making the point that the U. of C. strives to be resolutely apolitical, even in the awarding of honors, Crovitz includes this delicious anecdote: The mayor of […]

When It Comes to Saving, Who Would You Listen to: My Wife or Milton Friedman?

My response when Money magazine asked for the best advice I had ever received about personal finance: When I was a first-year assistant professor at the University of Chicago, my friend and department chair, Jose Scheinkman, relayed the advice Milton Friedman had given him 20 years earlier, “Don’t save too much.” The logic was simple: […]

David Warsh on the New Milton Friedman Institute

There is a mini-controversy on the University of Chicago campus surrounding the announcement of plans to raise money for a Milton Friedman Institute here at the university. Some non-economists are concerned that the Friedman Institute will push a right-wing agenda and tarnish the reputation of the university. Some who knew Friedman well have the opposite […]

Does Anyone Care About David Mamet’s Conversion?

The playwright David Mamet, writing in the Village Voice, declared that he had renounced his unabashed liberal world view for a more conservative one, due primarily to the influence of economists like Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell. Mamet found: … that I agreed with them: a free-market understanding of the world meshes more perfectly with […]

Restore the Draft? What a Bad Idea

Levitt discusses the economics of reinstating a draft.