Can inequality affect growth?

Both theoretical and empirical research have found conflicting evidence as to what the relationship between economic growth and inequality is. There is some evidence for monotonic, linear positive or negative relationships. And then there is the much more plausible-sounding nonlinear, hump-shaped relationship.

My understanding is that more recent (empirical) evidence supports the nonlinear view. But there are still open questions such as what kind of shape the relationship takes exactly, or where exactly the turning point is.

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The wallet experiment

The Reader’s Digest conducted an experiment attempting to measure how honest the world’s cities are. They “lost” 12 wallets in a variety of cities containing about $50 in the local currency and the contact information of the wallet’s owner. They then measured how many wallets were returned to the owner.

In this short post, I would like to highlight how little this experiment can really say about honesty across cities because of small sample size.

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Success vs. quality: the case of TV shows

How long a TV show can stay on air is mostly determined by how many viewers tune in every night to watch it. Thus popular TV shows tend to be successful. But are these popular shows also critically acclaimed? Do people generally like high quality shows?

I investigate these questions in this post using a sample of TV shows that were aired on US national television channels (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC or the CW) and ended or were canceled between the 2005/2006 and 2014/2015 seasons.

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Religious pluralism and religious participation

Religious participation tends to decrease in the market share of a given religion in an area. This is because people participate more in order to preserve their identities when there is a higher threat of its extinction, which is when one’s religion is a small minority.

But how does religious pluralism (i.e. the abundance of religions in a region) affect religious participation? There are two main theories: participation either increases because of higher religious competition or it decreases because of a lack of credibility.

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The effects of an affirmative action ban

Affirmative action policies at universities are being challenged more and more often nowadays. And actually, some states have already banned them. So what lessons have we learned from these bans?

The question is not only whether minority enrollment rates decrease, but also whether many minorities will actually not even bother applying after such a ban, and whether schools are able to maintain their current level diversity.

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Does the death penalty reduce crime?

It happens every now and then that something goes wrong with an execution, and there is some debate about the death penalty. The result – as usually in politics – is that nothing changes. But now that this topic was all over the news again some time ago, I decided to see what the data says.

This post attempts to answer whether the death penalty has a deterrent effect. Can it reduce crime?

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Political beliefs and intelligence

The level of education one has is correlated with many things, chief amongst them is probably intelligence.  It also has a good explanatory power for the political leanings of people. This has been documented in both rich and transition countries.

An interesting to question consider would be to see whether one can somehow explain certain political positions with level of intelligence. Of course, this is obviously a very sensitive topic. But the role of science is not to judge, but to find answers.

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