Historian and author Jerry Muller of Catholic University talks about his latest book, The Tyranny of Metrics, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Muller argues that public policy and management are overly focused on measurable outcomes as a measure of success. This leads to organizations and agencies over-focusing on metrics rather than their broader mission. The conversation includes applications to education, crime, and health care.
Vincent Rajkumar on the High Price of Cancer Drugs
Can a life-saving drug be too expensive? What explains the high price of cancer drugs? Dr. Vincent Rajkumar of the Mayo Clinic talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the high price of cancer drugs--drugs that can cost an American with cancer $300,000 per year and require multiple years of treatment. Rajkumar explains how little a role market forces play in setting prices and what might be done to improve the situation.
Michael Munger on Traffic
Does rush-hour traffic drive you crazy? Is a congestion tax on car travel a good idea? Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economics of traffic and congestion taxes. It takes a while to get there (how appropriate!) but they eventually agree that a tax on congestion while reducing travel time is harmful to many drivers and may be best thought of as any tax placed on a particular good--a way to raise government revenue from the pockets of the consumers of that good.
Edward Glaeser on Joblessness and the War on Work
Why are fewer men working over the last few decades? Is a universal basic income a good policy for coping with the loss of employment? Economist Edward Glaeser of Harvard University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about what Glaeser calls the war on work--the policy changes that have reduced employment among prime-aged men. Glaeser does not see the universal basic income as a viable solution to the decrease in work especially if technology ends up reducing employment opportunities more dramatically in the future. The conversation also includes a discussion of the role of cities and the reduction in geographic mobility in the United States.
Beth Redbird on Licensing
Economists often oppose the expansion of licensing in America in recent years because it makes it harder for people with low skills to get access to opportunity. Sociologist Beth Redbird of Northwestern University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a different perspective. Redbird finds that licensing expands opportunity for women and minorities and has little impact on wages. She argues that licensing helps historically disadvantaged groups discover ways into various careers they otherwise would have trouble accessing. The discussion closes with a discussion of Redbird's work on the economic situation of Native Americans.