Another one for the robots: they’re better at hiring low skill workers

Discretion in Hiring
by Mitchell Hoffman, Lisa B. Kahn, Danielle Li – #21709 (LS)

Who should make hiring decisions? We propose an empirical test for assessing whether firms should rely on hard metrics such as job test scores or grant managers discretion in making hiring decisions. We implement our test in the context of the introduction of a valuable job test across 15 firms employing low-skill service sector workers. Our results suggest that firms can improve worker quality by limiting managerial discretion. This is because, when faced with similar applicant pools, managers who exercise more discretion (as measured by their likelihood of overruling job test recommendations) systematically end up with worse hires

Posted in Economics and public policy | 5 Comments

Jewish Film Festival Guide to Good Films: better late than never

At least according to our sleuthing, there are lots of films, but only six could reasonably be called Troppolicious, if indeed it is reasonable to call anything Troppolicious

Top Picks

Nat is an old Jewish baker who reluctantly hires Ayyash, a young Muslim refugee from Darfur, to help out his failing bakery. Ayyash, who sells cannabis on the side to help his struggling mother, drops his stash into Nat’s dough. Suddenly, the customers can’t get enough of his challah, and Nat discovers that his dwindling shop has customers lining up around the block. It’s a change of fortune that’s noticed by local business rivals and drug lords alike, none of whom are happy with Nat’s success.
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The Israeli Defense Force operates special undercover units in the West Bank and Gaza. The Mista’arvim blend into the Palestinian population, speaking fluent Arabic and carrying out anti-terror operations. When a notorious Hamas operative re-emerges, Doron comes out of retirement to lead a unit in search of the man he believed to be dead. This tense, gripping show is the biggest Israeli TV series of the year, showing all sides of the conflict from the Israeli soldiers to the Arab civilians caught up in the crossfire.
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The hit TV series that explores the life of an ultra-Orthodox family in Jerusalem returns. The second season of Shtisel centres on father and son, Shulem and Akiva Shtisel, who share the same apartment in ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim. It features the same cynical humour and the same search for love that made the first season one of Israel’s biggest TV shows.
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Sylvain’s mother is 95 and the doctors have given her only weeks to live. But she’s not giving up easily: an eternal optimist, she refuses to accept the result, and ‘decides’ to hang around for a while longer. Sylvain visits her every day, and she spends those visits imparting her wealth of knowledge and inspirational teachings on life upon her devoted son.
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The one-panel cartoons in the New Yorker magazine are the stuff of legend: hilarious, inspiring and occasionally baffling artworks that reflect and comment on the world we live in. Now, director Leah Wolchok takes us behind the scenes to experience the successes, rejections, and processes of the madcap geniuses-many of whom are Jewish-who create them. An offbeat look at one of journalism’s most enduring institutions.
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In the 1950s, the most popular children’s books in Israel were from the series Children of the World. The books, which remain in print over six decades later, featured heroes and beloved characters who were depicted by actual children in real photographs. But who were these children, and what became of them?
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Alfred Marshall: Founding theorist of Corporate Social Responsibility/Shared Value and social enterprise

Who knew that Alfred Marshall published an essay entitled “The Social Possibilities of Economic Chivalry” (1907) (pdf)? I didn’t until I came upon it the other day. Having now read it, it’s thoroughly Marshallian – very much of a piece with his dissenting meliorism which I discussed here and which runs like a thread through mainstream economics from Smith through Mill to Marshall and (at a pinch) to Keynes, with economics staying true to its roots in enlightenment moral philosophy.


In any event, the way Marshall couches his case is very dated, as indeed is his choice of the idea of chivalry to convey his meaning. I was rather taken with it as a rhetorical or linguistic stratagem. There’s something to be said for ideas and terms that have some history behind them. There’s nothing much that’s all that new in the world and it’s healthy to remind ourselves that human history, even Western history, even modern Western history is long. Within that tradition, there’s nothing much new under the sun, though there are new takes on things, new interpretations of circumstances.

In any event, he takes chivalry rather further – rather more seriously:

War is more cruel even than competition to oust rivals from their work and living; but there grew up around it a chivalry which brought out the noble, emulative side of war, and even something of the finer sympathies. If in the Elysian fields a mediaeval warrior be now discussing with late inhabitants of worlds many billions of miles away from our own the experiences of his old world, he may hold up his head as he speaks of the chivalry of war, the thing that occupied people’s imagination most in that age.

As the Duke of Wellington, upon being greeted as “Mr Brown I believe” once said “If you believe that, you’ll believe anything”. Continue reading

Posted in Economics and public policy, Education, Ethics, Innovation | 1 Comment

The Economic Costs of Organised Crime

I examine the post-war economic development of two regions in southern Italy exposed to mafia activity after the 1970s and apply synthetic control methods to estimate their economic performance in the absence of organised crime. The comparison of actual and counterfactual development shows that the presence of mafia lowers GDP per capita by 16%.

Paolo Pinotti, 2015, “The Economic Costs of Organised Crime: Evidence from Southern Italy”,The Economic Journal, 125 (August)

Posted in Economics and public policy, Law | 1 Comment

The perils of penal reform

horrellThe effective sacking of NT Corrective Services Commissioner Ken Middlebrook is sad but politically inevitable.  It came in the wake of the escape and subsequent voluntary surrender of axe murder and rapist Edward Horrell from a Sentenced to a Job work gang near Nhulunbuy.

Minister John Elferink had emphasised after some earlier Sentenced to a Job escapes that only low security prisoners were permitted to participate in the program and that sexual assault offenders were absolutely banned.  In view of that promise, Horrell should not have been on the program and it was appropriate that Middlebrook as the Commissioner should tender his resignation in those circumstances.  A Prison Officers’ Association spokesperson asserted that Horrell’s admission to the program could only have been personally approved by the Commissioner.

Some have suggested that Minister Elferink should also have resigned or been sacked as a result.  However that does not reflect the modern Australian concept of Ministerial responsibility unless Elferink knew Horrell or other sex offenders were being allowed to participate, or unless personal not just organisational organisational responsibility could be sheeted home to him for some other reason.  As Richard Mulgan explains:

Continue reading

Posted in Politics - Northern Territory | 10 Comments

NAAJA v NT – a wider perspective

Further to my post on Tuesday, the result in yesterday’s High Court decision in NAAJA v NT [2015] HCA 41 will not have made either side completely happy.  The Court upheld the validity of the NT government’s “paperless arrest” law by a 6:1 majority i.e. the NT government won.

However, all Justices determined the matter essentially by application of statutory interpretation principles, and all but two (Gageler and Keane JJ) declined to determine the question of whether Territorial legislatures and executives were constrained by the separation of powers doctrine that restricts the Commonwealth, essentially because it was unnecessary to answer it.  They interpreted the legislation as not having a punitive operation, and therefore it would not infringe separation of powers principles even if they applied.

Continue reading

Posted in Law, Politics - Northern Territory | 1 Comment

New factoids feed the prejudices SHOCK! And a story . . .

Deaton and Case states

When we know so little, it’s incumbent on us all to show a little applied humility to interpreting the recent and much celebrated and punditised results about rising mortality amongst American whites.

But I will at least say this. The results which Angus Deaton and his wife Anne Case report and which I reported in an earlier post, are much worse in the bible belt large parts of which are in the previously slave owning South which I’ve argued suffers from psychosis.

Education is good, looking after those at the bottom of the ladder is good. Of course the left’s tendency to valorise ‘victims’ can go too far. I think it does and it’s a growing problem (#TriggerAlert you may not agree and this may trigger anxiety, depression and flashbacks to traumatic events in your childhood when you discovered you weren’t the only person in the world). But ethically it seems like so much less a crime than the right’s demonisation of those at the bottom and their valorisation of those at the top. Perhaps it’s also a practical mistake.

This puts me in mind of what was a moment of epiphany for me in the suburbs of Los Angeles with my son Alex. Continue reading

Posted in Economics and public policy, Ethics | 16 Comments