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Do markets generate a “just” wage? The answer to this question will depend upon the particular theory of the market that the political economist employs. When comparing actual labor markets with the neoclassical theory of competitive equilibrium as its normative benchmark, Joseph Heath (2018) argues that factor pricing is orthogonal to normative issues such as… Read more »

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Regulation by the state can benefit or harm any business in society. While the market provides for consumers rather than special interests, rationally acting interests will be incentivized to use political means to capture rents, particularly if public clamor for regulation exists. The formation of the Federal Trade Commission, rather than providing a check on… Read more »

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This paper reviews the performance of the East German economy in the turbulent quarter-century following reunification and draws some conclusions for the reunification of North and South Korea. In this period, the gap in output per capita between East and West Germany declined at a speed not far from empirical estimates of the neoclassical growth… Read more »

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Evidence from the American Time Use Survey 2003-12 suggests the existence of small but statistically significant racial/ethnic differences in time spent not working at the workplace. Minorities, especially men, spend a greater fraction of their workdays not working than do white non-Hispanics. These differences are robust to the inclusion of large numbers of demographic, industry,… Read more »

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The paper offers a number of vignettes surrounding Friedrich A. Hayek’s receipt of the Nobel Prize. It examines Hayek’s life before he got the prize, describes the events in Stockholm, and offers a summary of the main themes of his Prize Lecture. It then examines the subsequent impact on Hayek’s life and career. It concludes… Read more »

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This paper investigates the industrial organization of the international drug trade. From the mid 1970s through the early 2000s, a few large-scale and hierarchically organized cartels dominated the market. Since 2006, dozens of smaller and more-specialized units have emerged. We notice that the prohibition efforts of federal governments (primarily Mexico and the U.S.) imposed costs… Read more »

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We develop a framework for understanding how legal structures relate to imprisonment. We hypothesize that relatively more hierarchy within criminal justice institutions, compared to commercial law, fosters higher rates of incarceration. Our framework predicts that incarceration reflects asymmetric opportunities for rent seeking across differently organized legal institutions. Instead of comparing criminal justice institutions across nations… Read more »

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Standard economic theory proposes that public goods (equally available to everyone) will be underprovided by private markets. Individuals can benefit without having to pay, so there is little incentive to invest or manage resources efficiently. The punishment of criminals is an example of this, since everyone in a society benefits from reduced crime whether they… Read more »