It's about fairness, not equality.

"...there is no evidence that people are bothered by economic inequality itself. Rather, they are bothered by something that is often confounded with inequality: economic unfairness." This is from a paper published in Nature. "Drawing upon laboratory studies, cross-cultural research, and experiments with babies and young children, we argue that humans naturally favour fair distributions, not ... »

A beautifully simple illustration of how housing drives inequality

Dirk Baur over at the University of Western Australia has constructed a fantastically simple model, using the board game Monopoly to look at the interplay of housing and inequality. For all its simplicity, the results bear a striking resemblance to empirical data. "We assume a city with four suburbs each populated with five streets. There is one house in each street. The price of the houses (in ... »

Democracy as a technological problem

Debates about the future of democracy often revolve around things like money, districting and incumbency. But an interesting paper out of RMIT is framing it as a technological problem. The paper itself is an exploration of using a Blockchain for "coordinating preferences", or what they call "crypto democracy". But in setting the stage there is this amazing passage: ...technological and institut ... »

It's past time for news to go niche

Australian media has had a rough couple of weeks, with one of the two main media companies slashing its newsroom staff by 125 (it has already more than halved over the past decade). This was followed by a week long strike. But journalism is hurting the world over. And while we all gnash our teeth about job losses and clickbait, the answer has been there all along. Stop trying to reach everybody. ... »

The giants of economics were humans, too.

Grand Pursuit by Sylvia Nasar is a tough book to describe. I've alternately been calling it a series of economic biographies, and a sweeping history of political economy. The blurb refers to it as a "survey" of the characters that shaped economics. I'm not sure any of these really get at what makes it so wonderful. Nasar, who previously wrote A Beautiful Mind (which is not only a great movie but ... »