links for 2009-09-24
Hoisted from Comments: A Jury of Prosecutors Would Hang John Yoo High

The Intellectual Collapse of the Chicago School Yet Again...

The Economist's Free Exchange gets medieval on Casey Mulligan:

Give women choices: Mr Mulligan seems to be arguing that we shouldn't improve education and access to contraception in developing nations, where population is growing most rapidly, because that would limit population growth, which drives technological development. This is, in a word, offensive. I have no idea why any economist would feel good advocating for measures that deny women the opportunity to get an education, work, and use family planning to take control of important life decisions.

Secondly, Mr Mulligan has taken a rather know-nothing view of population growth.... [T]he demographic transition (where declines in death rates are ultimately followed by declines in birth rates) was associated with increased investments in human capital for women and children. Family planning allowed women to participate in the workforce and increased household incomes, while smaller families sizes enabled parents to invest more in a child's education, better preparing them for skilled work later in life.... [O]ffering women in developing nations better educational opportunities and access to contraception... contributes to growth in the supply of skilled workers, including those most likely to enter technological fields and contribute to innovation. Mr Mulligan's suggestion, by contrast, seems to be that women should continue to struggle to limit family size, leaving developing nations with large populations of poor, uneducated youths, unable to do much in the way of skilled work, and unable to offer much of a domestic market, such as might act as an incentive to entrepreneurs and innovators.

There is no reason for governments to try and limit fertility below levels desired by parents. There is every reason to work to extend the same family planning options developed nation households enjoy to those living in poor countries.

This is extraordinarily embarrassing for both the University of Chicago and the New York Times. Both ought to be doing a lot better.