Monthly Archives: January 2020

When Inequality Increases and Decreases at the Same Time

January 25, 2020

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. In Problems With Measuring Inequality, I discussed how inequality is an ambiguous concept. The problem, in short, is that a single metric can never capture every aspect of a distribution of income. Much like we cannot tell the shape of an object from its perimeter or area, … Read More

No, Productivity Does Not Explain Income

January 17, 2020

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Did you hear the joke about the economists who tested their theory by defining it to be true? Oh, I forgot. It’s not a joke. It’s standard practice among mainstream economists. They propose that productivity explains income. And then they ‘test’ this idea by defining productivity in … Read More

Rethinking Causation in the Social Sciences

January 11, 2020

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. For the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about causation in the social sciences. As with many instances of reflection, this was prompted by rejection. A political economy journal recently rejected a paper that I had submitted. The paper (available here) studied the correlation between hierarchical power … Read More

Problems With Measuring Inequality

January 4, 2020

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Economists often talk about income inequality the same way a doctor would talk about a child’s height. Just as a doctor would say “Sylvia continues to grow taller”, economists say things like “US income inequality continues to grow”. (Full disclosure, I’m sure I’ve said similar things). On … Read More