Wiki Contributions


Costs and benefits of amniocentesis for normal pregnancies

Really agree with all of these, thanks. Curious, in your decision-making process, did you ever have a way to calculate “the chance of a really disabling (as bad as Down syndrome) disorder”?

Uncontroversially good legislation

Ah yes you're right, it's stricter for contacts. I was at least able to get to the purchase page on LensCrafters for a pair of glasses. (Just had to check a box where I promise the values are based on a recent prescription.) Thanks for pointing that out!

Uncontroversially good legislation

Thanks for the question. I like the EMH metaphor. I think that the "uncontroversially good" legislative opportunities can generally be viewed as the result of some inefficiency.

You bring up the case of diffuse harm and concentrated benefits. It seems widely acknowledged that lobbyists and interest groups have too much leverage. The inefficiency is that voters can't keep track of all the small ways they're being harmed and so donations do not track welfare impacts. But, as you say, these reforms would be controversial to someone, so perhaps I could improve my language. I want a pithy way to say: "Behind closed doors, most politicians would see this as utterly reasonable and good."

While I'm on it, here are two other sources of inefficiency which I think could be relevant here:

  1. Myopia. In the US, Social Security will be insolvent in 2033. But it seems like politicians (and voters) are not that excited about tackling this one. Pandemic preparedness is another example.
  2. "Laboratories of democracy." State and local governments should probably try more things than they're selfishly incentivized to because their experience with the reforms becomes a public good that other governments can learn from and imitate.
Uncontroversially good legislation

US companies like LensCrafters, Warby Parker, and 1-800-contacts do care, which in my experience has been prohibitive in some situations. Eg see:

And the discussion here:

A study on air purifiers and birth weight

Really useful post, thanks for sharing. In case you're interested, this paper seems to do a good job of tacking the "mortality vs years of life lost" issue you mention.

Does crime explain the exceptional US incarceration rate?

I didn't do much research into other cross-country crime measures so I'm definitely curious to learn more about other ways of getting at this. 

But to me the most obvious reason to favor homicide is reporting. Partially because it's fresh in my mind, I'd recommend The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society (from 1967). Starting at page 25 they go through changes in reporting that caused huge blips in measured crime in the US. I think the authors may have wanted to play down the crime increase for political reasons, but even discounting them somewhat they do identify issues in measurement that could easily persist today and be way worse in other countries. 

Does crime explain the exceptional US incarceration rate?

I really want to try this...From a few minutes of googling it seems pretty hard to find this info for other countries. Will update if I'm able to cobble the data together.

Does crime explain the exceptional US incarceration rate?

That makes sense. So I guess a correction where we assumed all countries had US-level healthcare would scoot the poorer countries to the left in the scatter plot...I think this could dampen trendline but would still leave the US looking pretty weird.

Does crime explain the exceptional US incarceration rate?

Good question--my reasoning was that homicide is well-measured and easy to find online, and should correlate with levels of crime more broadly. I wonder what variable we would want to address the Thailand issue...maybe the share of prisoners who are "violent" would be useful, but I'd be surprised if I could find it for many countries.