Coal Mining and Population Loss

My first peer-reviewed publication is out in the Journal of Appalachian Studies. I’ve posted the full paper here,  and below is a shortened and non-technical version. The Data, Methods, and Analysis section is rewritten for this blog to make it more accessible for lay readers, while the other sections are merely abridged. Coal Mining and […]

Why is there an economic tome at the top of Amazon’s best seller list?

Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century raced to the top of the best-seller list, where, as a 570 page economic tome with 200 years of historical data on income and wealth, it made an odd contrast with “Frozen Little Golden Book” (a child’s book based on the movie Frozen) and a few self-help books. I […]

Do market trades actually increase human well-being?

One of the most foundational assumptions in modern economics is that freely agreed upon trades benefit both parties. This seems reasonable, since if one party is getting swindled they are free to back out of the deal. Unfortunately, human interactions don’t work out that neatly. Let’s start with an example from Dan Ariely’s book Predictably […]

Markets Shape Human Behavior (And Not Always For The Better)

If markets are to maximize individual well-being, then it is important that markets serve human preferences, but do not shape them. Advertising is one way in which markets can shape human behavior, causing us to want a good we may not have previously known existed. Another way is the psychological mechanism of priming. Priming works […]