It’s been a great 15 years in Australia for me and the family, so we will be leaving lots of friends and colleagues behind as we seek new adventures in London, where from next week onwards I will be part of a Wellbeing centre, pretty much the same topic as the Australian Research Council has been generously funding me to look at for the last 3 years.
The essential aim of the ‘Centre of Wellbeing’ at LSE will be to put utilitarianism into practice as much as possible. To this end, we hope to be part of wellbeing policy experiments, textbooks on how a decision maker can be a better wellbeing-bringer, longitudinal studies, large data-gathering exercises, policy briefs, Master’s courses, inter-active wellbeing systems, and all the rest of it. We have partners all over the world and an international panel for wellbeing is up and running at the end of next week. If you happen to have a few million lying around to help us get to our goals quicker, then please help!
Whilst the grass is greenest in Australia, variety is the spice of life so I am looking forward tremendously to the new adventure. Still, the family is not truly leaving Australia, as my 3 kids now carry Australian citizenship and one kid is still studying in Sydney. So it is ‘Tot ziens’ (‘See ya later!’) rather than farewell!
To all my friends and colleagues in the Australian economics community: do come and look me up in London; please join in with utilitarian-oriented research projects; and best of luck.
The Effect of Early Education on Social Preferences by Alexander W. Cappelen, John A. List, Anya Samek, Bertil Tungodden
We present results from the first study to examine the causal impact of early childhood education on social preferences of children. We compare children who, at 3-4 years old, were randomized into either a full-time preschool, a parenting program with incentives, or to a control group. We returned to the same children when they reached 7-8 years old and conducted a series of incentivized experiments to elicit their social preferences. We find that early childhood education has a strong causal impact on social preferences several years after the intervention: attending preschool makes children more egalitarian in their fairness view and the parenting program enhances the importance children place on efficiency relative to fairness. Our findings highlight the importance of taking a broad perspective when designing and evaluating early childhood educational programs, and provide evidence of how differences in institutional exposure may contribute to explaining heterogeneity in social preferences in society.
Cross posted from the Mandarin
It is six years since Australia’s Artist Resale Royalty scheme (ARR) commenced and three years since submissions to its Post Implementation Review (PIR) closed, though the review itself has never been published. However, in the absence of a healthier public commitment to transparency, we can now answer some questions about the scheme.
How much has the ARR helped artists?
Supported, both at its inception and since, largely for its assistance to indigenous artists, the ARR has delivered approximately $1.6 million to indigenous artists, or about $260,000 per year according to Copyright Agency (CAL), which manages the scheme. Over the last six years about 420 non-indigenous artists — about 5% of the total of around 9000 professional non-indigenous Australian visual artists — have received around $2.6 million in royalty payments averaging $430,000 per year.
Of the total number of individual ARR royalty payments made to date, 41% have been between $50 and $99 (minus the 15% management fee). However, because so many artists commanding the highest prices are dead, 168 estates have received 45% (around $1.9 million) of all ARR’s payments. This compares with government payments to the start-up and administration costs of the ARR of 2.2 million.
Does the scheme generate more benefits than costs?
After a very gruelling 11 rounds of classical chess which produced nine draws and one win for either side, Magnus Carlsen surprised most people by not trying very hard for a win in his final ‘classical’ game with challenger Sergey Karjakin. He was biding his time for the playoff with four games of ‘rapid’ where players get 25 minutes plus several seconds per move. It was his 26th birthday! The first game was a draw. Carsen secured a won game in the second game but couldn’t pull it off. He won the third and then had to draw or win the fourth. The final position was this which as you can see looks rather hazardous. If white doesn’t mate his opponent he’s about to get mated himself. What should Carlsen play?
You can play this and other games here.
Meanwhile other countries take it all rather more seriously!
The intimidatingly well informed Brad Delong used the following quote from Rosa Luxemburg to bid “good riddance” to Fidel Castro. I don’t know enough to agree or disagree, but as I read Luxemburg’s words, I wasn’t thinking of communism. I was thinking of managerialism. I’m not seeking to suggest any moral equivalence with the gulags. But there are plenty of systems of tyranny, petty and otherwise, in our lives as the stuffing somehow oozes out of our institutions.
A generation ago academics were a privileged elite jealous of their privileges (and as is the case with privileges, some grew fat and lazy on them.) Ditto bureaucrats including of course the bureaucrats running private companies. Professionals could be directed within professional structures (an engineering firm say). But all such people owned a degree of fiduciary duty to the public and some independence from their bosses. Today managerialism runs rampant over such things and these people are so many lab rats in a Skinner box hitting their KPIs and (of course) learning to manipulate them apace as well as learning to pump out the bullshit in ever increasing quantities.
Minister Dutton says that 2/3 of people recently charged with terrorism in Australia have Lebanese Muslim backgrounds. However, the first rule when considering dramatic statistics should be to think “compared to what”. In this case, where else might we expect Islamic extremists to come from? A quick look at the Australian Census tells us that this statistic is not so exceptional. Now that Islamic terrorism has arisen and spread (in a small way) to Australia, it is not at all surprising that most people involved will be of Lebanese background. This is simply because they are the largest relevant population group in Australia.
Simplifying somewhat, the majority of people seeking to undertake terrorist acts in the name of Islam in Western societies have been young adults (mainly men) who are second or third generation migrants. Moreover, such violent acts are just as much political as religious acts and have been concentrated in the diaspora of countries with on-going political-religious conflict.
The table below shows the self-reported ancestries of young people who were born in Australia and reported Islam as their religion in the 2011 Census. Lebanese was the most common ancestry (about 18,000), followed by Turkish and then Australian. (Up to two responses were permitted, of which Australian was often the second). If we exclude those parts of the world which have not been sources of Islamic terrorism, Lebanese youth make up 47% of the total, followed by Turkish at 26%.
Why have Lebanese, but not Turkish youth, appeared in Dutton’s statistics? The answer is much more likely to be found in the political environment of the home country than in anything inherent to the migrant population in Australia. Despite a range of groups exercising political violence in Turkey, it has not been a country where Islamic violence has focused on Western interests (until very recently, and even then it is probably not ‘home grown’).
Interestingly, if we include Turkey as a non-starter as a source of terrorist recruits, Lebanese youth make up just under 2/3 of the ‘population at risk’ in the table – the same as Dutton’s statistic.