Critical Quarterly columns

I’m writing an economics column in Critical Quarterly, a humanities journal, which is a bit of fun. They are supposedly free to view for 12 months after publication. I already posted a link to the first, on the European democratic deficit, but neglected to link to the second, on migration. The third, on secular stagnation, is available here.

Emigrants, tax rates, and debt

Paul Krugman has an interesting piece here, and I can’t resist posting a link to something similar I wrote back in 2010.

PK’s piece also gives me an excuse to post a link to this piece by Oxford Economic & Social History graduate Christopher Kissane on incentivising emigrants to come home, which makes several good points IMO.

To ungovern is to depopulate

There are costs and benefits to everything, even emigration at a time of economic crisis. We Irish have probably gotten so used to (silently) thanking our lucky stars that our young are not hanging around at home being unemployed (or at least, not to the same extent as the young in the Mediterranean), that we may have forgotten this. Indeed, I had forgotten that I wrote this back in 2010. But now Paul Krugman points us to this post (and see also this one) which brings up the issue, and it is worth thinking about it seriously.

Long run GDP and tax revenue may not suffer that much if people return home eventually, especially if they bring home new skills and contacts, but what if funding crises happen before then? And are we perhaps too optimistic about the prospects for return migration? My generation came home in droves because of the 1990s boom, but that sort of growth is obviously never going to be replicated: you can only catch up on the technological frontier once. And as I pointed out in that earlier post, there is scope for negative feedback loops here, related to the overhang of government debt.

All in all, another reason to think that debt restructuring is going to eventually have to take place around the Eurozone periphery.

(H/T Alan Taylor who suggested the title of the post. That is a clue as to what it refers to by the way.)

Friday Conference: Demography Session

The podcast and slides from the session on demography at the Friday conference are below.

Podcast

Chair: Kevin Denny (UCD)

Orla Doyle (UCD)
Early Educational Investment as an Economic Recovery Strategy

Alan Barrett (ESRI/TCD)
The Costs of Emigration to the Individual: Evidence from Ireland’s Older Adults

Brendan Walsh (UCD)
Well-being and Economic Conditions in Ireland

Revealed preferences for climate

Eight academic economists have left Dublin in recent months or will leave shortly. That may seem like a small number, but there are only 200 or so academic economists in the country. They all have moved / will move to warmer places: Stirling (2.0K warmer on average than Dublin), Brighton (2.2K), Oxford (2.2K), Canberra (3.4K), Melbourne (5.3K) and Lisbon (7.0K). Dublin economists thus disregard the opinion of the European Union that a climate change of 2.0K is dangerous.

Between 1998 and 2009, intra-union migration has been towards warmer places. The average migrant in the EU experienced a warming of 0.6K. The average masks a wide spread. About 10% of migrants stayed in roughly the same climate, 17% experienced a cooling of 2K or less, and 16% a cooling of more than 2K. 24% experienced a warming of less than 2K, and 33% a warming of more than 2K. 450,000 people opted to live in a climate that is more that 5K warmer than what they were used to.

Obviously, one cannot compare the individual impact of moving to a warmer climate with the impact of global warming, but at the same time it is clear that both Dublin economists specifically and intra-European migrants generally do not object to a warmer environment.

City climate data from World Guides. Country climate data from the Climate Research Unit. Migration data from EuroStat, for Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden, United Kingdom.

Pay for performance in academia

Last week, I linked to two papers, one showing that students prefer to enroll in highly ranked universities, and another one showing that a generalization of the Hirsch index partly explains who gets tenure where.

Brian Lucey led me to another paper, by Daniel Hamermesh, to be published in Economic Inquiry. Hamermesh links remuneration to performance, showing that more prolific authors earn more (but this effect levels off). The relation between citations and pay is more intriguing. At the lower end of the pay range, the total number of citations matters. At the higher end, the most cited paper dominates. This makes sense: Prizes are given for the one paper that changed everything.

What has this to do with Ireland? In the USA, academic contracts are individual. In Ireland, contracts are collective. Pay is set by grade and seniority. This implies that only the more productive and more influential Irish academics can get a competitive offer from the USA. Recent cuts in net pay have priced a larger fraction of Irish people into the international market. Irish universities thus run the risk of losing their best people, and we have seen some of that already.