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“Economics has trouble predicting the effects of big changes. Most of the events economists can observe and study are limited, incremental changes — a modest increase in the minimum wage, or a small decrease in immigration. This is as it should be, because governments are (rightfully) cautious about undertaking huge economic experiments. But when people are contemplating truly transformative changes — reparations for the descendants of slaves, for example, or wealth taxation — economists have fewer recent examples to look at. That’s one reason economic history is important — by looking at times of great upheaval, economic historians can shed light on the likely consequences of dramatic policy changes in the present day.
One such enlightening study is a recent paper by economists Philipp Ager, Leah Platt Boustan and Katherine Eriksson, entitled “The Intergenerational Effects of a Large Wealth Shock: White Southerners After the Civil War.” Using detailed Census records, Ager et al. measure the effect of the war on the wealth of slaveholders and their sons. This is an interesting question, because it asks: When the government takes away some of your wealth, how quickly can you bounce back?”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"President Trump’s Iran policy over the weekend was both erratic and masterful. Doves and isolationists, panicked by what they see as the administration’s inexorable drift toward war, rejoiced when Mr. Trump announced that a military strike had..."
"This is the photo that encapsulates the cruelty of the Trump era: a father and daughter lying dead on the banks of the Rio Grande river, her tiny arm draped around his neck, drowned after an attempt to cross onto American soil and seek asylum..."
"Several months ago, a Palestine Liberation Organization body published an official document on the conflict. In its 37 pages, the organization put forth its views, with some readers seeing this as a clear endorsement of the two-state solution..."
"The first season of Big Little Lies was a clever trap. The show took what would have otherwise been an easily satirized narrative about affluent women and complicated it with their trauma; The Week's Lili Loofbourow succinctly called it "a kind..."
"There’s a story we like to tell about American capitalism. Ours is a country that prizes merit, rewards risk and stands apart in its commitment to the collective success of open markets and the free flow of capital. We are a nation of strivers..."
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""At the end of May, TIAA, the financial services and investing giant, rolled out new gender-identity awareness guidelines for its client-facing consultants. The guidance included: “Never assume someone’s gender identity” and “Be aware that a..."
"An old saying goes that people become more conservative as they age. George Will’s new book, “The Conservative Sensibility,” shows that the opposite can be true. This book is not so much a brief for conservatism as it is a learned and lengthy..."
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"In Japanese culture, kintsugi is the labor-intensive method of repairing broken pottery by reattaching pieces using a lacquer mixed with gold. The reconstructed item, glistening with golden “seams,” is in many ways more beautiful than it was..."
"The U.S. is currently experiencing the largest outbreak of measles since 1992. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 1,000 confirmed cases since January. Scientific research overwhelmingly support..."
"Among those participating was Jason Greenblatt, Washington’s Mideast mediator and one of the architects of the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop taking place here. Aryeh Lightsone, a top aid to US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, gave a brief..."