Monday, June 13, 2022

AEA P&P, a measure of an organization

The American Economics Association papers and proceedings are out. This is a selection of the selection of papers presented at the AEA annual meetings. It tells you a lot about where the economics profession is--what papers are submitted--and also where the AEA as our (so far) premier professional organization is--what papers got included -- and perhaps more interestingly, where it isn't. 

Here are the papers. The AEA put the sessions in random order; I reorganized by rough topic. Of course many of the topics have intersectional elements so this isn't perfect either. Comments below, but you should read the raw data first and find your own inferences. 

AEA DISTINGUISHED LECTURE

On the Dynamics of Human Behavior: The Past, Present, and Future of Culture, Conflict, and Cooperation

Race

RACE, GENDER, AND FINANCIAL WELL-BEING

  • Black Land Loss: 1920−1997
  • Intersectionality and Financial Inclusion in the United States
  • At the Intersection of Race, Occupational Status, and Middle-Class Attainment in Young Adulthood
  • Child-to-Parent Intergenerational Transfers, Social Security, and Child Wealth Building

RACISM IN THE UNITED STATES: EVIDENCE FROM ECONOMIC HISTORY

  • Media Access and Consumption in the Civil Rights Era
  • On the Impact of Federal Housing Policies on Racial Inequality
  • Sundown Towns and Racial Exclusion: The Southern White Diaspora and the "Great Retreat"
  • Discrimination, Segregation, Integration, and Expropriation

BLACK ENTREPRENEURS AND FINANCIAL CONSTRAINTS

  • Black-Owned Firms, Financial Constraints, and the Firm Size Gap
  • The 2021 Paycheck Protection Program Reboot: Loan Disbursement to Employer and Nonemployer Businesses in Minority Communities
  • Easier to Start, Harder to Succeed: Barriers to Black Entrepreneurship since the Great Recession
  • Using Technology to Tackle Discrimination in Lending: The Role of Fintechs in the Paycheck Protection Program
  • Self-Reporting Race in Small Business Loans: A Game-Theoretic Analysis of Evidence from PPP Loans in Durham, NC

RACIAL DISPARITIES IN HUMAN CAPITAL AND WEALTH ACCUMULATION

  • The Racial Wealth Gap and the Role of Firm Ownership
  • Measuring Changes in Disparity Gaps: An Application to Health Insurance
  • Self-Employment and Migration: Evidence from Mexico
  • How Do Federal Policy Shocks to State Spending Impact Returns to Primary and Secondary Education?

MORTALITY IN AMERICA AT THE TURN OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

  • Estimating the Effects of Milk Inspections on Infant and Child Mortality, 1880−1910
  • Segregation and the Initial Provision of Water in the United States
  • 1918 Every Year: Racial Inequality in Infectious Mortality, 1906−1942

(this could fit in other categories, but with 2/3 of the papers, I put it here) 

Gender

THE DIVISION OF POWER WITHIN FAMILIES IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

  • Women's Employment and Empowerment: Descriptive Evidence
  • Empowering Women to Engage in Commercial Agriculture
  • Improving Willingness-to-Pay Elicitation by Including a Benchmark Good
  • Measuring Women's Empowerment in Collective Households

ECONOMICS OF THE FAMILY

  • Gender Disparities in Career Advancement across the Transition to Parenthood: Evidence from the Marine Corps
  • Convincing the Mummy-ji: Improving Mother-in-Law Approval of Family Planning in India

IDENTITY, CULTURE, AND THE ECONOMICS OF GENDER

  • Continuous Gender Identity and Economics
  • Integration Costs and Missing Women in Firms around the World
  • Hacking Gender Stereotypes: Girls' Participation in Coding Clubs
  • Gender Economics and the Meaning of Discrimination

GENDER IN THE ECONOMICS PROFESSION

  • Who Are the More Dismal Economists? Gender and Language in Academic Economics Research
  • Gender Differences in Economics Course-Taking and Majoring: Findings from an RCT

WHY ARE WOMEN AND MINORITIES LESS LIKELY TO CHOOSE ECONOMICS AND STEM MAJORS/FIELDS

  • Parental Investments in Early Childhood and the Gender Gap in Math and Literacy
  • How Early Adolescent Skills and Preferences Shape Economics Education Choices
  • Online Tutoring by College Volunteers: Experimental Evidence from a Pilot Program
  • The Effect of Teaching Economics with Classroom Experiments: Estimates from a Within-Subject Experiment

Covid 19 (or is this race and gender?) 

GENDERED IMPACTS OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

  • Social Distancing, Stimulus Payments, and Domestic Violence: Evidence from the US during COVID-19
  • Public School Access or Stay-at-Home Partner: Factors Mitigating the Adverse Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Academic Parents
  • Gendered Impacts of COVID-19 in Developing Countries
  • Is Remote Sensing Data Useful for Studying the Association between Pandemic-Related Changes in Economic Activity and Intimate Partner Violence?

THE IMPACT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON VULNERABLE POPULATIONS

  • Inequality in the Effects of Primary School Closures Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Evidence from the Netherlands
  • More than Shelter: The Effect of Rental Eviction Moratoria on Household Well-Being

COVID-RELATED STRESSES ON MINORITY GROUPS

  • COVID-19 and Its Impact on Minority-Owned Banks
  • Identity during a Crisis: COVID-19 and Ethnic Divisions in the United States
  • Laissez-Faire, Social Networks, and Race in a Pandemic

Inequality

WEALTH

  • Wealth Taxation: Lessons from History and Recent Developments
  • Saving Effects of a Real-Life Imperfectly Implemented Wealth Tax: Evidence from Norwegian Micro Data
  • Gender and Inheritances
  • The Correlation of Net and Gross Wealth across Generations: The Role of Parent Income and Child Age

EQUITY AND EFFICIENCY IN UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

  • Estimating the Disparate Cumulative Impact of the Pandemic in Administrative Unemployment Insurance Data
  • Early Withdrawal of Pandemic Unemployment Insurance: Effects on Employment and Earnings
  • Equity in Unemployment Insurance Benefit Access

THE IMPACT OF UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE FINANCING ON INEQUALITY AND THE LABOR MARKET

  • Unemployment Insurance Financing as a Uniform Payroll Tax
  • Poor Performance as a Predictable Outcome: Financing the Administration of Unemployment Insurance
  • Would Broadening the UI Tax Base Help Low-Income Workers?
  • Should We Have Automatic Triggers for Unemployment Benefit Duration and How Costly Would They Be?

NEW APPROACHES FOR MEASURING POVERTY AND INCOME

  • Fixing Errors in a SNAP: Addressing SNAP Underreporting to Evaluate Poverty
  • Building a Consumption Poverty Measure: Initial Results Following Recommendations of a Federal Interagency Working Group
  • Income Declines during COVID-19
  • The Change in Poverty from 1995 to 2016 among Single-Parent Families

Work

ASSESSING YOUTH LABOR MARKET INTERVENTIONS: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE

  • Youth Hiring and Labor Market Tightness
  • Soft Skills in the Youth Labor Market
  • What's in a Job? Evaluating the Effect of Private Sector Employment Experience on Student Academic Outcomes

WORKPLACE BENEFITS

  • Investigating the Introduction of Fintech Advancement Aimed to Reduce Limited Attention Regarding Inactive Savings Accounts: Data, Survey, and Field Experiment
  • Explaining Heterogeneity in Use of Non-wage Benefits: The Role of Worker and Firm Characteristics in Disability Accommodations

LABOR MARKETS AND THE TRANSMISSION OF MACROECONOMIC SHOCKS

  • Do Bonuses Offset the Allocative Effects of Downward Rigid Base Wages?
  • Monetary Policy, Labor Market, and Sectoral Heterogeneity
  • Persistent Monetary Policy in a Model with Labor Market Frictions

Behavioral economics

BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS AND PENSION DESIGN

  • A General Solution to the Problem of Setting Optimal Default Options
  • Present Bias Causes and Then Dissipates Auto-enrollment Savings Effects
  • Do State-Sponsored Retirement Plans Boost Retirement Saving?
  • Precautionary Liquidity and Retirement Saving

THE BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS OF RISKY CHOICE: NEW PERSPECTIVES

  • Robustness of Rank Independence in Risky Choice
  • Simplicity and Probability Weighting in Choice under Risk
  • Revealed Preferences for Randomization: An Overview

Political economy

PERCEPTION OF POLICIES AND POLARIZATION

  • Scapegoating during Crises
  • Is the Partisan Divide Real? Polarization in Preferences for Redistribution
  • Eliciting People's First-Order Concerns: Text Analysis of Open-Ended Survey Questions

POLICE CONDUCT

  • Does (All) Police Violence Cause De-policing? Evidence from George Floyd and Police Shootings in Minneapolis
  • Law Enforcement Officers' Bills of Rights and Police Violence
  • Police Frisks
  • Measuring Police Performance: Public Attitudes Expressed in Twitter

History (other than above categories) 

THE US ECONOMY IN THE 1920S

  • Masks and Trolleys in San Francisco during the 1918 Influenza Epidemic
  • Boomtowns: Local Shocks and Inequality in 1920s California
  • Immigration Shocks and Marriage Market Sorting
  • Transportation Revolution: The Car in the 1920s

RECENT HISTORY OF GLOBAL INTEGRATION: THE GLOBALIZATION WAVE OF THE 1980S AND 1990S

  • The Trade Reform Wave of 1985−1995
  • The Dismantling of Capital Controls after Bretton Woods and Latin American Productivity
  • Migration on the Rise, a Paradigm in Decline: The Last Half-Century of Global Mobility

Immigration

ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF IMMIGRATION POLICY AND ENFORCEMENT

  • Border Fencing, Migrant Flows, and Crossing Deaths
  • Put on ICE? Effects of Immigration Raids in the Animal Slaughtering and Processing Industry
  • Birthright Granted and Revoked: The Effects of Irish Citizenship Policy on Migrant Fertility
  • Parental Deportation, Safe-Zone Schools, and the Socio-Emotional and Behavioral Health of Children Left Behind

IMMIGRATION: PERCEPTIONS AND BELIEFS

  • Immigration and Labor Market (Mis)perceptions
  • Implicit Stereotypes in Teachers' Track Recommendations

Mostly harmless theory

OPTIMAL UNIQUE-IMPLEMENTATION MECHANISMS

  • Addressing Strategic Uncertainty with Incentives and Information
  • Efficient Full Implementation via Transfers: Uniqueness and Sensitivity in Symmetric Environments
  • Preventing Bottlenecks in Organizations

ALGORITHMIC PRICING

  • Artificial Intelligence, Algorithm Design, and Pricing
  • Identifying Algorithmic Pricing Technology Adoption in Retail Gasoline Markets
  • Smart Meters and Retail Competition: Trends and Challenges

ESTIMATION OF DYNAMIC CAUSAL EFFECTS IN MACRO: PROMISES AND PITFALLS

  • Structural Vector Autoregressions with Imperfect Identifying Information
  • What Can We Learn from Sign-Restricted VARs?
  • Signing Out Confounding Shocks in Variance-Maximizing Identification Methods
  • SVAR Identification from Higher Moments: Has the Simultaneous Causality Problem Been Solved?

Finance, public and private

NEW LESSONS IN FINANCIAL FRAGILITY

  • Global Life Insurers during a Low Interest Rate Environment
  • Shadow Bank Distress and Household Debt Relief: Evidence from the CARES Act
  • Weak Corporate Insolvency Rules: The Missing Driver of Zombie Lending

HIDDEN DEBT

  • Undisclosed Debt Sustainability
  • Sovereign Debt Auctions in Turbulent Times
  • Hidden Defaults
  • Hidden Debt

Economics, the AEA

THE NEW ECONOMETRICS OF LEAGUE TABLES

  • Ranking and Selection from Pairwise Comparisons: Empirical Bayes Methods for Citation Analysis
  • Statistical Uncertainty in the Ranking of Journals and Universities
  • Inference for Losers

PROCEEDINGS: REPORTS

[Meeting minutes and editor reports delted] 

  • Report: Committee on Economic Education
  • Report: Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession (CSWEP)
  • Report: Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession (CSMGEP)
  • Report: Committee on Equity, Diversity, and Professional Conduct (CEDPC)
  • Report: Committee on Status of LGBTQ+ Individuals in the Economics Profession (CSQIEP)
  • Report: American Economic Association Committee on Statistics (AEAStat)
  • Report: Committee on Government Relations (CGR)
  • Report of the Task Force on Best Practices for Professional Conduct in Economics
  • Report of the AEA Task Force on Outreach to High School and College Students
  • Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Job Market
  • Report of the AEA Ombudsperson

*******

Christina Romer, President-Elect of the AEA and overall in charge, wrote in the Foreword 

In the call for paper submissions, I expressed a particular interest in papers on pressing public policy concerns. A number of the sessions on the program and included in this volume speak to such issues. There are sessions on the role of race and gender in financial well-being, wealth dynamics, and the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable groups. Other sessions examine unemployment insurance, pensions, youth labor market interventions, and immigration policy. At the same time, the annual meeting included a vast array of economic research, and that breadth is also reflected in this volume. There are sessions on the economic history of the 1920s, the role of the family in developing countries, algorithmic pricing, and financial fragility.

That sums it up pretty well. Also, to be a little bit fair, keep in mind this was all put together a year ago, in the summer of 2021. So the list is interesting as a characterization of what Romer, and the rest of the selection committee, think are "pressing policy concerns," and what, by their absence, is not. 

I long for a general purpose objective text classifier that can document political orientation, so we'll have to do that by eye. But this sure looks like a pretty left-wing progressive agenda to me. How "included" would you feel if you're a Republican? Or a free-market economist? 

Perhaps a better way to characterize the list is to think about what is surprisingly, stunningly, incredibly absent, even if one regards the AEA as devoted to "pressing public policy concerns" rather than fundamental research, and especially if the AEA is about economics--incentives, budget constraints, markets--as a way of thinking about public policy. 

  • There is nothing on inflation, federal reserve, monetary or fiscal policy, the effects of the $5 trillion dollar stimulus, the astounding February 2020 3.5% unemployment rate, the speed and nature of the covid recession, and the equal speed of recovery to the same unemployment rate. Search and matching vs. Phillips curves, supply vs. demand in the covid recession, and more. Macroeconomics altogether gets one very technical session. 
  • There is nothing on growth. The US long run growth rate fell in half starting in 2020. Why this sclerosis? A raging debate in economics, have we just run out of ideas?  
  • Even among progressive concerns, there is nothing on climate! Not even climate equity, climate justice, and the rest. There is nothing on environment at all. 
  • There is nothing on regulatory stasis. Even the left has figured out that the regulatory state is a problem, as it blocks windmills and solar panels. (See a delightful Ezra Kein in NYT. New York's congestion pricing scheme, a perfect example of economic and environmental win-win is stymied for years by, you guessed it, environmental and equity nitpicking.) 
  • Covid-19. All the AEA can include about it is racial and gender inequity. There was an outpouring of work integrating economic and epidemiological approaches. (My own modest contribution.) This is a genuine interdisciplinary scientific advance, that should be immensely useful in the next pandemic. Silence. There is study of the immense failure of FDA, CDC, and other bureaucracies. There is great work evaluating the effectiveness of lockdowns, masks, school closings. We don't even hear of the disastrous effect on disadvantaged minorities of school closings. Is even the AEA in thrall of teacher's unions? The silence is deafening. Or rather the noise: nine papers, all on gender and racial difference in covid-19 impacts. 
  • Housing. Still a disaster. Zoning laws, affordable housing mandates, a return to housing projects?  Not even the gender/race/inequality aspects. 
  • Public finance. Our tax system is a mess. Did the Trump corporate tax cuts unleash growth? Did they make inequality greater? Is an international corporate tax minimum a good idea? Tax policy is not just about redistribution, more questions to which the answer is a wealth tax; incentives used to be at the heart of tax policy. 
  • Trade. The one small group on the history of globalization only begs the rest. Trump started tariffs, pulled us out of TPP. Is trade over? Can we fragment the globe and still produce efficiency? Will the one thing left and right agree on, re-shoring, industrial policy, protection, work out? 
  • "Hidden debt" sounds interesting. But isn't the looming insolvency of social security and medicaid, the inevitable consequences of 5% structural deficits forever, the debt sitting right in front of your face, also a "pressing" public policy concern? At a minimum, how about an update on how r<g, secular stagnation stimulus, hysteresis, MMT, and painless fiscal expansion are going? 
  • Corporate finance, IO, etc. Are the tech companies monopolies even though they give us stuff for free? How much monopoly is government granted -- see baby formula shenanigans. "Stakeholder capitalism, needed freedom or political control?" We're missing a lot of progressive policies too! Oh yes, and tech company censorship/content regulation. That seems a pressing policy concern. 
  • Immigration. I'm an open borders libertarian, but even so you have to score the immigration sessions as pretty one-sided politically, and not even considering the important parts of the debate. And they miss the economics of the question, focused only on social-justice questions. How much is world GDP lowered by immigration restrictions? How do you open immigration and run a welfare state? Whining about injustice does not answer the important questions. 
  • Race, crime and policing. Important, cops are shooting too many people. But on the list of policy issues needing addressing, the explosion homicide by non-cops -- 1,000 times larger headcount -- surely needs some analysis? Most of the people getting killed are poor and Black. Solve every murder? How about a session "disparate impact of the 2020-2022 crime wave on people of color, new immigrants and other marginalized and disadvantaged communities?"  
  • Education, another policy issue that should be the top of progressive concern. Choice vs. teachers unions and the horrible results, especially for minorities and the poor. On the top of things that entrench social and income inequality in the US, this is it, and teachers' unions arguably bear much of the blame. But we should ask the question. 
  • Since we're veering off to social science, if we care about equity and gender, do facts on low income single motherhood not matter at all? In many states more than half of all children are born to single mothers on medicaid. 
  • Last but not least: censorship and free speech in academia. The AEA has lots of committees on the operation the profession. Not one on free speech, free inquiry, the politicization of science funding, measuring political or intellectual diversity, pledges of allegiance to DEI programs as part of employment, and most of all critical inquiry whether the AER and other journals remain open to diverse points of view. Many other professional organizations are turning in to political advocacy and censorship organizations. And so forth. Really, is there any other issue that a professional organization of research economists should take on, as a matter of its proper focus and expertise, than free and open inquiry in academia, defense of its members when they are canceled or fired, and pressuring universities to adopt Chicago Principles and Kalven Report? Silence. 

I just got started. Add more in the comments! (And criticism. I did not read the papers, so if I mischaracterized absences, feel free to say so.) 

If you don't like this, of course, speak up, or quit the AEA. (Given the way AEA nominees are selected, it is impervious to reform by the membership.) We're economists, we believe in competition and entry as a solution to many problems. 

The Society for Economic Dynamics is up and coming.  Its annual conference includes all the research that the AEA does not. The plenaries are by Giuseppe Moscarini, Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, and Gita Gopinath. I don't know the topics, but I bet you're going to get cutting edge labor market, climate economics, and international finance/macro missing from the AEA. Its journal the Review of Economic Dynamics is getting better and better. The Econometric Society runs meetings around the globe. Maybe a few too many -- the AEA does gain by exclusivity. OTOH, maybe intellectual diversity and inclusion isn't that bad either. The  European Economics Association is their parallel to the AEA. Specialized associations such as the American Finance Association and Society for Financial Studies can become more general in their interests, and move in to economics as the AEA moves out,  and are rapidly doing so. The Western Southern  Eastern economics associations can rise. The National Association for Business Economists  runs a good meeting. The other top journals --Journal of Political Economy, Quarterly Journal of Economics -- can launch associations and conferences. 


16 comments:

  1. "Mostly Harmless Theory" LOL!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To be clear, I meant "mostly harmless," from the progressive policy point of view, they were willing to let it in as it doesn't challenge orthodoxy. I like economic theory, and economic research and policy analysis needs better theory.

      Delete
  2. You aren't the first person to write about this recently...it can't hurt to link to others...

    https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/economists-arent-doing-much-economics-these-days/
    https://arnoldkling.substack.com/p/road-to-sociology-watch-69?s=r
    https://econjwatch.org/articles/gender-race-and-ethnicity-and-inequality-research
    https://blog.independent.org/2022/06/07/research-interests-academic-economists/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These are good links. Thanks, I had not seen them. I like Pino's last paragraph, first link: Donate to think thanks!

      Delete
  3. Oh dear. I admire John Cochrane's fortitude, in the face of this onslaught on "economics."

    It does seem like new organizations will have to evolve to house the sensible.

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  4. It looks like the AEA is mounting a (hostile?) takeover of sociology.

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  5. I dropped out of the AEA over a year ago, at least a year late, after a nearly 50 year membership. They still e-mail me tables of contents. I used to love the P & P because one could get educated on lots of topics. This 2022 P & P e-mail I didn't even finish skimming, and deleted.

    Got an e-mail last year, after dropping out, asking why. I responded with AEA President trying to nail a professor and the incompetent reading list on racial relations. I have not heard back. :-)

    Agree with Cochrane, and thank you, the other John, for those links.

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  6. Wow! I'm an ABD in economics from UChicago circa 1973, a long time ago.
    If I had made it and succeeded as an academic economist, would I now be asking myself "Did I just waste my life?"

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  7. John noted that P&P has nothing on education, and nothing on single parent families. Yet improving K-12 education and encouraging two parent households will do more to promote the interests of minorities, support women and reduce income inequality than almost anything else. If Ms Romer wanted papers on “pressing public policy concerns” why didn’t we get anything at all on either of these questions?

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  8. Professor - remember your words (and link) when Walter Williams passed away:
    https://johnhcochrane.blogspot.com/2020/12/walter-williams-and-economics.html
    "The highlighted phrases (my emphasis) stuck out to me as a brilliant encapsulation of where economics research and practice has gone, as well as teaching, in the last few decades. A guide for social engineers, indeed. Most papers end up with "policy conclusions" that amount to intensely complex advice for all-powerful (yes) and all-knowing (ha) "policy-makers" aka social engineers."
    There you have it - the AEA P&P are exactly that - papers on social engineering, with some good portion of wokeness included.

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  9. One more thing Prof: you say "If you don't like this, of course, speak up, or quit the AEA. (Given the way AEA nominees are selected, it is impervious to reform by the membership.) We're economists, we believe in competition and entry as a solution to many problems."
    The problem is that many are afraid to get the Joshua Katz treatment at Princeton and Harald Uhlig treatment at Chicago (of all places).
    Thus, many keep silent. (BTW - where were the Econ Profs at Princeton defending Joshua Katz? Nobody spoke out...)

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  10. An interesting paper yet to be written: "The Shifting Supply Curve of Socially Driven Economics Papers as a Response to Increasing Psychic and Other Income Available to Opportunistic, Compliant, or Reductive/Obsessive Authors."

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  11. Kind of shocked climate didn't make it. I honestly would have guessed it was bullet point 1 or 2 at the very least

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  12. 1. Commenters on Marginal Revolution blog note that it is factually NOT true that "In many states more than half of all children are born to single mothers on medicaid." i.e most likely NONE. MAPAC's data: 5 States with > 50% on medicaid: OK 52%, AZ 53, NM 56, MS 63, LA 63%. Given that 'only' 49% of custodial single mothers receive any government assistance (2015) the math (even assuming births are to younger, poorer folks) doesn't look like it would work. 2.Other thing I'd see noteworthy by (apparent) absence are the grey & black economies. They almost certainly impact many - if not all- of the (real world) topics covered.

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  13. I'm not sure it's a bad thing at all. Economic thinking is present in much of everyday life. Whether or not this (the economic milleu) is a phase remains to be seen. Just as micro needs macro, we need an equilibrium of positive and normative analysis.

    But the gist I got out of these titles is the understanding perception of access to opportunity, maybe to reform the image of meritocracy. Economics can't be all about mechanics because its practice is to serve the myriad of needs of those in society. How is that best done or how many good options are out there? Call it its eudaimonia.

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