The Becker-Posner Blog explores the current issues of economics, law, and policy in a dialogic format. The blog is authored by Gary Becker, a Nobel-prize-winning economist and Richard Posner, a federal circuit judge.
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The narrow question whether public school teachers should continue to have tenure, as they mostly still do, opens into the broad question of the extent to which education should be provided by a free market or by the government. It is rare for private employers to offer tenure contracts to their...
The traditional case for tenure at the university level rests on two pillars. The first and most prominent is that this gives professors freedom to express unpopular views in their writings and lectures. The second is that professors in the same field are the best ones to judge the qualifications...
The US has traditionally stood for a large amount of equality of opportunity, at least among whites. This implies that the success of children would depend mainly on their ability and energy, and much less so on their parents’ incomes and education. This has always been an aspiration rather than a...
Charles Murray’s recent book Coming Apart has gotten a lot of attention because of the data it presents concerning the growing social and economic gap between working-class and middle-class people (politicians call all nonwealthy Americans “middle class,” but that is because politicians in a...
The great economist Joseph Schumpeter coined the term “creative destruction” to describe the process by which innovation (which might be technological or organizational—the latter illustrated by the invention of the supermarket) promotes economic growth and welfare but at the cost of wiping out...
Traditional Bookstores and Libraries are Doomed by the Internet, and so too are Many Other Ways to Distribute Content to Consumers-Becker
It has been recognized for at least a decade that traditional bookstores and newspapers are essentially doomed by the growth of the Internet and digitization. Doomed also are postal systems, record albums, movie theatres, and most other traditional ways of providing information, entertainment, and...
Starting with the opening of agriculture to private incentives in the late 1970s, China has experienced faster and more prolonged economic growth than any other country. In a mere three decades China has moved from a very poor nation to a middle-income level country, a development that pulled...
Naïve extrapolation—predicting the continuation of a trend—is a human instinct, probably because the future does usually repeat the present (the sun rises every day, the weather tomorrow is likely to be similar to today’s weather, and so on), so it was a valuable instinct to have under the...
Two of the candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination—Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry (the latter later withdrew from contention)—advocated measures quickly denounced by other conservatives as forms of “amnesty” for illegal immigrants. Neither proposal was spelled out in any detail,...
I agree with Posner that illegal immigrants are generally productive members of the labor force, and make relatively little use of taxpayer-funded programs, such as Medicaid and other welfare programs. On the other hand, they pay little in taxes since they are frequently paid in cash and often do...