An article on the BBC website called “School odds stacked against summer babies, says IFS” caught my eye. Joshua D. Angrist and Alan B. Krueger published a famous paper in 1991, which used the age of school entry as an instrumental variable to measure returns to schooling. A few years later John Bound, David A. Jaeger and Regina M. Baker wrote an even more famous paper in the Journal of the American Statistical Association, exposing problems of weak instruments used in Angrist and Krueger’s work. The BBC article says that “August children are 20 per cent less likely to attend a top university”, which seems like a pretty striking result. Did the IFS repeat a 20-year old mistake or does the old instrument work much better in the UK?
I gave a talk about the role of identity in economics at Doug’s (Douglas Dupree’s, below) lunch. The motivation was the work by social psychologists on the test performance Asian American women, Oklahoma student camp experiment and Tajfel and Turner’s Kandinsky experiment. I talked about the work by George Akerlof and Rachel Kranton, which explains how schools and workplaces in the United States adapted to shifts in identity, which occurred over the past century. Finally, I mentioned some of my own work on modelling sexual abstinence pledging in America.
Terrific book, which begins like Metroland, but ends like nothing I’ve ever read. Very glad Booker judges agreed last night.
A typical popular non-fiction book: peppered with well-known stories as evidence; repeats a loosely-defined concept (“obliquity”, “blink”, “romantic economist”, “world is flat”); claims to explain the behaviour of system on earth (from trade to evolution); written in short paragraphs, which, combined, are as intellectually vacuous as “The Alchemist”.
This is one of them.