New Same-Sex Marriage Study: Canada Data

The controversial social scientist Mark Regnerus has a recent post on a new study in the Review of Economics of the Household. The study “reveals that the children of gay and lesbian couples are only about 65 percent as likely to have graduated from high school as the children of married, opposite-sex couples. And gender matters, too: girls are more apt to struggle than boys, with daughters of gay parents displaying dramatically low graduation rates.

Unlike US-based studies, this one evaluates a 20 percent sample of the Canadian census, where same-sex couples have had access to all taxation and government benefits since 1997 and to marriage since 2005.”

Check out the full article. And, as was the case with Regnerus’ studies, let’s not be hasty. As one journalist wrote, “But before we all go get our stones, pitchforks, and kerosene, may I suggest an alternative? Trust science. Don’t bury this study. Embrace it. The evidence Regnerus collected can help all of us rethink our ideas about sexuality and marriage. It can enlighten the right as well as the left.”

Indeed.

Hebrew in the Book of Mormon

The European academic publisher E.J. Brill recently released the multivolume Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics. What’s interesting about this set is that it features two articles by Mormon scholar John Tvedtnes, both of which are about the Book of Mormon:

Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon

Hebrew Names in the Book of Mormon

The articles are brief and provide a reading list of entirely LDS resources, including BYU Studies, Ensign, and publications by the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS).

Check them out.

The Importance of Economic Freedom in 6 Graphs

The Fraser Institute recently released its Economic Freedom of the World: 2013 Annual Report, which reveals the continual decline of the U.S. (#2 in 2000, now #17). Some may object to the term “economic freedom,” seeing it only as a pretty-sounding Trojan Horse for the evil bourgeois system of capitalism.

Guess what: it is.

But rhetoric is important (as economist Deirdre McCloskey has explained) and “economic freedom” is, in my view, a more accurate description. And far from living up to its caricature (i.e. a system of power and greed that exploits the poor), economic freedom–as shown by the graphs below–does more to raise the living standards of all involved, rich and poor alike, than any other economic system yet discovered. Descriptions are at the bottom of the graphs.

Read moreThe Importance of Economic Freedom in 6 Graphs

Ronald Coase, 1910-2013

Nobel Prize-winning economist Ronald Coase died recently at the age of 102. Many fine tributes have been written over the past week, but a common theme in many of them is that Coase was an economist interested in what actually happens in the economy. Or, as he explains below, “the approach [to economics] should be empirical.”

Read moreRonald Coase, 1910-2013

Reconciling Murray

GMU’s Bryan Caplan has an interesting 2012 post on reconciling the work of controversial political scientist Charles Murray. Caplan views Murray’s three main books on poverty–Losing Ground, The Bell Curve, Coming Apart–as complementary. To review:

Charles Murray

Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980 criticizes the welfare state for giving the poor perverse incentives.

The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (written with the late psychologist Richard Herrnstein) argues that the poor tend to have lower IQs.

Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 claims that the poor are generally lacking in particular virtues and social norms, namely marriage, industriousness, religiosity, and honesty (in relation to rising crime rates).

Caplan sets it up as follows:

  • The Bell Curve emphasizes the most stable difference between the rich and the poor: The poor tend to be less intelligent. Cognitive ability is an important determinant of success in almost any society. Smarter workers are simply more productive, and competing employers reward them accordingly. In the long-run, therefore, people with low intelligence tend to have correspondingly low incomes.”
  • “People with low IQs aren’t just less productive; they’re also more impulsive…Implicit: One of the best ways to help impulsive people reach decent long-run outcomes is to give them a lot of strong short-run feedback.”
  • “In Losing Ground, Murray shows what happens when the welfare state shelters people from this short-run feedback.”
  • “The impulsive are swayed more by guilt and shame than careful calculations about the distant future. In Coming Apart, Murray shows that over the last few decades, this tradition/social pressure mechanism has gradually broken down for the working class – and transformed the working class into a dysfunctional leisure class…Removing short-run feedback led to worse behavior, which undermined traditional norms about work and family, which reduced social pressure, which led to worse behavior.”
  • “Elites live in a high-IQ, low-impulsiveness Bubble. When they introspect, they correctly conclude that the welfare state has little effect on their behavior. They then incorrectly infer that the welfare state has little effect on anyone‘s behavior.”

Read moreReconciling Murray