Costs of an influenza epidemic: they’re big!

Source: Flikr Creative Commons Authors of academic papers display great skill in crafting their titles.  Yes, I’m being sarcastic, but when a paper with the title, “The Inclusive Cost of Pandemic Influenza Risk,” crosses my desk and I read what’s in it I gain a new appreciation for understatement and a lack of marketing effort. The paper’s bottom line: “We use published figures to estimate … [Read more...]

Tax credits for higher education don’t help

“There are many ways a society can finance college, and over time the US has tried almost all of them.”  Thus begins a new paper, “Tax Benefits for College Attendance,” by Susan Dynarski and Judith Scott-Clayton. American governments currently subsidize higher education in three ways.  First, state and federal governments directly fund a variety of higher education institutions, including … [Read more...]

How does government spending affect the private economy?

Source: Flikr Creative Commons The Great Recession revived economists’ interest in fiscal policy, i.e. the use of government spending and tax policy to affect the economy (especially in the short run.) This isn’t surprising given the large increases in spending and transfer payments along with significant tax cuts enacted by the Bush administration in 2008 and the Obama administration in 2009.  … [Read more...]