Links to Consider, 1/7
Limon Stone on adverse demographic indicators; Kling vs. Garett Jones; Kling and Erik Torenberg on Michael Gibson; Hannah Ritchie on Eating Local
Actual fertility has fallen even as desired fertility has not in most of the high-income countries of the world. Thus, as with marriage, the likeliest story on falling fertility in the last two decades is not one of people simply freely choosing not to have so many children. Rather, fertility has most plausibly fallen because of economic “failure to launch” among young people, long delays in career stability, excessive housing costs, exploding childcare costs, rising student debts, and other adverse circumstances, not least the oppressive panopticon of social media which makes prisoners of us all.
Regarding Garett Jones’ The Culture Transplant, I write,
n the first book in his “Singapore Trilogy,” Jones emphasized population genetics, notably national average IQ.3 IQ is not mentioned at all in The Culture Transplant. Does Jones have amnesia? Perhaps not. In the passage quoted above, the euphemistic reference to Singaporeans having “high test scores” suggests that he may be thinking that his conclusions are offensive enough already, without touching the third rail of IQ differences among populations.
The “technology history” variable that Jones emphasizes may be a subtle proxy for average IQ. But Jones instead tells us to treat it as a proxy for cultural values.
Overall, I found the arguments Jones makes for his immigration-skeptic position not persuasive. They did not move my priors on the issue.
In an interview with Russ Roberts, Hannah Ritchie says,
you would think that the further a food has traveled to reach you, the more the CO2 has been emitted in the process. That is generally true, but I think what people get wrong is that when we look overall at the carbon footprint of our food, the transport component for most foods is very, very small. So, in reality, the distance your food has traveled to reach you often makes a really, really small part of the carbon footprint of the food that you're eating.
We should start with the presumption that market prices tell you the resource cost of something that you consume. When you try to second-guess market prices, for example by saying that the carbon cost of local food is less than the carbon cost of transported food, you are likely to be wrong.
Kudos to Ms. Ritchie for paying attention to this. Most environmentalists just follow their instincts, which almost always come back to primitivism. I have a chapter in Specialization and Trade in which I explain how economic analysis of sustainability is superior to primitivist intuition.
Last month’s book discussion was on Michael Gibson’s Paper Belt on Fire. I was joined by Erik Torenberg. Our discussion covered some major themes of the book but also other related topics from the tech world.
Specialization and Trade should be read by all!
"when a man immigrates to the United States from a Communist country, the key question is whether he wants us to remain capitalist or become Communist. . . . I suspect [that] the typical immigrant wants us to remain capitalist"
(from Mr. Kling's review of The Culture Transplant)
My experience of immigrants differs. I think of the Irish doctor who found in the US the kind of position unavailable to him in his home nation, and who lamented the absence of socialized medicine here; and of the Jamaican nursing aide who immigrated in order to earn money, and who praised Communism.
I think also of the Americans who leave higher-cost states for lower-cost states, and support the same political party and policies as in their previous places of residence.
I wonder whether Mr. Kling tends to associate with immigrants like the Indian man I know who favors free markets consistently; and whether that narrowness of association distorts his view.