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u/pipesthepipes · 1 pointr/AskSocialScience

Describing the best form of taxation involves a combination of economics and values. The economics asks "how does the policy change the way people behave?" which is the positive side of the question. The value side of things asks "is that consequence something we want?" which is the normative side of the question.

The economic, or positive side of things is completely game for social science, and is the subject of a great deal of research for different tax systems. The normative stuff we talk about sometimes, but we try to be very cautious about separating values from predictions and only say a policy is definitely a bad idea when we're pretty sure society views the consequences of the policy as unacceptable.

From a positive side, I don't think the arguments that are made to support the Flat Tax hold too much water. I don't know of any strong evidence that it would induce a great deal of growth. But I also don't know of strong proof that it doesn't. So positive economics maybe doesn't have too much to say here. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong, and point me towards a paper or two (I'm talking about research on the Flat Tax specifically, not just the ETI literature)).

From a normative angle, it comes down to the following question: your policy will probably make the rich better off (they'll have lower tax liabilities) and the poor worse off (they'll have higher tax liabilities). The rich might be more productive and this could mean more income for everyone. Is it worth it to you? Given that the research on the responses of the rich finds that they've been pretty small in the past, I think the flat tax is a bad idea. But there's some values there that have nothing to do with social science.

On the other hand, simplification of the tax code in a way that approximately maintains the progressivity of the system would be a welcome change. Taxes are way too complicated, and a large literature on salience suggests that you could make people better off by making their choices easier to understand. (Incidentally, salience is right in the middle of my research.) Some of the arguments around the flat tax take this route, and this is something I agree with. Even though I don't think the flat tax specifically is a good idea at all.

A further complication is that sometimes when people say the flat tax they mean/don't mean a Negative Income Tax. I think that an NIT is not entirely a bad idea if you're going to do a flat tax, because it would allow you to make sure the system is still progressive. What I've written above mostly applies to the flat tax without a NIT built in.

If you're interested in hearing the full debate, instead of what your professor (who, by the way, isn't representatives of economists who study tax) thinks, I would recommend this book.

Edited for citations and typos. There's probably still some typos. Oh well.

u/Integralds · 10 pointsr/AskSocialScience

This is definitely the right sub. A few notes:

  1. You can approach applied economics papers with just a semester of economic statistics / econometrics and a semester of intermediate theory. Applied papers can be either micro or macro. For example, at this point you should be able to comfortably read Mankiw, Romer, and Weil (1992).

    Most applied economics paper boil down to I ran a regression of Y on X. The key question you have to ask yourself is, "Do I buy their identification?" To assess such claims, you don't need much more than a semester or two of econometrics and critical thinking. Sure, some of the more obscure estimators might be beyond your ability, but the broad swath of applied papers boil down to some kind of instrumental variables regression.

    A somewhat more advanced paper that should still be readable to you is Gali and Gertler (1999).

    The game here is: write down your model to be estimated; argue that you have a good identification strategy; show us the tables of coefficients; argue that your results are robust; tell me why I should care. The trick is clean identification and economically & statistically significant results.

    Resources: your companion here should be Mostly Harmless Econometrics.

  2. Then there are theory papers, which can be micro or macro. These will generally set up an economic model and prove some results analytically. The limiting factor in reading them will be your mathematical maturity: here is where the real analysis and topology come into play. A typical theory paper (that you cannot probably read comfortably) might look like Mas-Colell (1975).

    The game here is: write down a model; derive some mathematical results (typically about certain partial derivatives, cross-elasticities, or existence of equilibria); tell me why I should care. The trick is to write down a model that makes sense and bring results that are applicable, either to other theoretical problems or that can be applied to practical problems.

    Resources: MWG is probably good preparation for these papers, at least in form.

  3. Third, there are computational papers. These tend to be macro, and within macro tend to be oriented around business cycle analysis. Here there is a lot of assumed background knowledge: macroeconomists expect to see models written down in particular ways and have certain preconceived expectations of what your "results" should look like. Again, I don't think these are approachable right out of the undergrad curriculum. I certainly could not follow the arguments of Ireland (2004) when I was an undergrad. I could barely work through the first few pages of Clarida, Gali and Gertler (1999).

    The game here is: write down a model; solve it approximately near the steady-state; simulate the model; show me some dynamics around the steady-state; show me how the model reacts to shocks; tell me why I should care. The trick is: write down a sensible model that captures the phenomena of interest, and show how the economy reacts to the shocks that you hit the economy with. Sometimes you want to show how policy can counteract those shocks.

    Resources: while reading a few chapters of Sargent & Ljungqvist is nice, there is still a lot of assumed background when reading macro that makes these papers a bit forbidding if you haven't had graduate training in the subject. Yes, I find it deplorable, but that's how the profession has evolved.

    A fantastic place to start in macro is Models of Business Cycles. You can probably read it if you know a little calculus and have taken a course in intermediate macro.

    By the way, all of the papers I've linked to are "classics" and are worth perusing, even if you don't fully grasp what's going on in them. I'm biased, so you've gotten a sampling of macro papers. Let me know if you want details/context on any of the papers I linked to.

    My deepest apologies if, in these summaries, I have offended the sensibilities of my applied and theoretical brethren. I'm stepping a bit out of the bounds of my field (money & macro). :)

    (Anyone know of good "classics" in applied micro that are readable? Card-Krueger (1994) is probably readable, as is Angrist (1990). But I'm not familiar with the classics in labor and IO.)
u/fortmac · 1 pointr/AskSocialScience

This is the first book I read - Basic Economics By Thomas Sowell. The author is quite libertarian (which I am not) but I don't remember the book being particularly radical. I read the book 10 yrs ago but it stood out, definitely piqued my interest, and really helped things 'click' for me regarding basic economic theory. Diving directly into a micro 101 textbook or just reading 100 econ blogs would not be advised as you don't learn the basics and traditions. Give yourself a reason to be interested and the rest will follow.

Free to Choose is pretty valuable, though it can be more a work of political-economy. Freakonomics is also great because its easy/fun to read and gives you a good understand of just how super valuable numbers are.

These are all on the light side and not 'textbook' quality; however, I'm sure they'll pique your interest, give you a good foundation, and the rest will follow.

u/lord_dumbello · 0 pointsr/AskSocialScience

Here's my suggestions:

  • Freakonomics is a fun introduction to economics. It has some caveats (most high-level economists disagree with the book) but I think it's a great way to get excited about economic concepts and see some of the things you can do with them.
  • There are a bunch of excellent topic-focused lighter-reading economics books such as: Wikinomics, The Wal-Mart Effect, and Predictably Irrational, to name a few.
  • I know you said "pop-sci" but if you're into mysteries at all then there's a fun series of two books written by a pair of economists called Murder at the Margin and Fatal Equilibrium. The books are murder mysteries in which the main character solves the mystery using economic principles. They are a little silly but an entertaining read.
  • If you're interested in something a little more hands on there are a number of free (low expectation) online introductory courses. The University of Illinois in particular is offering a completely free course in Principles of Microeconomics. It's fairly unorthodox and should be both fun and informative. I highly recommend it from personal experience.

    Hope that helps!
u/NellucEcon · 3 pointsr/AskSocialScience

I'm not sure about an online course, but I can recommend some econometrics textbooks.

Goldberger's "A Course in Econometrics" is well written and covers a lot of important ideas. I especially like his treatment of residual regression in chapter 17 (I think):

Many people teach regression as minimizing the squared residual from a linear model. While that's a correct way to think about it, in my opinion it is easier to understand regression as performing matrix algebra on a data-generating process. That is, a linear model says that x causes y according to

y = xb + e

where y is an observed column vector of length n (for number of observations) x is an observed matrix, possibly including a constant, e is unobserved, and b is a parameter (vector) to be estimated. Well, just do algebra on it.

you want to "move" x to the left-hand side, but x doesn't have an inverse. Instead, multiply both sides by the transpose of x, which is x', and then you have x'x in front of b. If this can be inverted, then multiply both side by it's inverse. (x'x)^-1 x'x cancels, yielding

(x'x)^-1 x'y=b+(x'x)^-1 x'e

if (x'x)^-1 x'e=0, then you have just solved for b. In expectation, this is true under the OLS assumptions, and as the sample gets large, it is approximately true in sample. This is why OLS can recover b if the error is orthogonal to x. If not, then OLS gives you biased estimates of the causal parameter b.

Regression algebra is indeed quite simple. This makes regression algebra satisfying -- you are doing something extremely powerful without requiring comparably sophisticated mathematical technology.

Anyway, Goldberger's treatment of regression algebra really clicked for me, especially making sense of residual regression (why "all else equal" makes sense). You don't need to read every chapter. Chapter 17 works pretty well on it's own, for example. But the other stuff is useful as well.

"Mostly Harmless Econometrics" is not too hard to read without coursework forcing you to focus:

You might as well get Wooldridge's graduate level textbook on panel data econometrics -- you'll probably need to buy it in grad school anyway. It's hard to make sense of until until you've been forced to work through a lot of the math. After your first quarter or two of graduate level course work you should be comfortable enough with the material to teach yourself anything in this textbook. Before that though and you might not have the discipline or background to make heads or tails of this:

u/[deleted] · 10 pointsr/AskSocialScience

Economics is a pretty broad subject, is there anything in particular you're interested in? I'll list some sources that I find interesting and that have spurred my interest in economics.

Behavioral Economics

  • Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely, MIT Professor
    -One of the most engaging books about economics I've read.

  • Freakonomics by Steven Levitt
    -Applying economics to every day life, has a good chapter on how the average crack dealer makes less than minimum wage.

    (Big picture economics)

    Austrian School
    (Popularized, not originated, with Friedrich Hayek and generally take a laissez faire approach to the economy)

  • Relevant reddit thread from about a month ago
  • Relevant youtube video re: Hayek vs Keynes
  • Wikipedia

    Keynesian School
    (Based on the ideas of John Maynard Keynes, advocates government intervention in the economy to smooth the otherwise turbulent waves of the business cycle)

  • The Return of Depression Era Economics, Paul Krugman
    -Haven't read this one, but Krugman is one of the more famous Keynesians.
  • Wikipedia

    Chicago School

    Notable Economists:

  • Milton Friedman : Monetarism,
  • Gary Becker : Human Capital,
  • Richard Thaler : Most notable for Behavioral Finance and his Anomalies series of papers in the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

    (How households / firms make decisions to allocate limited resources. Couple sub categories here, mainly Game Theory and some types of Behavioral Economics)

  • I don't know many casual books that talk about microeconomics. Most of my knowledge is derived from academia. I can recommend good textbooks but I don't think you'd be interested in reading those.

    Casual Books about Economics

  • Economics in One Lesson
    -Pretty sure this is available online for free.
  • Naked Economics
    -Read this a long time ago before I started seriously pursuing economics. Decent introduction to things like opportunity cost and other simple economic concepts.

    Because there is so much information available about economics you might feel a little overwhelmed. That's fine, the important thing is to always keep an open mind and not to dismiss certain theories / information based on a few people's opinions. For example, a lot of people bash on Keyensians these days (and mostly for good reason) but it's important to note that Keyensian economics as its practiced today is vastly different than what John Maynard Keynes had in mind in the early to mid 1900s. Just keep an open mind and form your own opinion.

    I'm sure I forgot a ton of stuff so hopefully other people can fill in what I missed.
u/pzone · 19 pointsr/AskSocialScience

>Empirical methodology is about running regressions in order to establish causal or at least predictive relationships within the dataset.

Perhaps this is what empirical rigor means in practice, but the view that this is what empirical rigor should mean is ultimately untenable.

Josh Angrist might re-assert /u/OMG_TRIGGER_WARNING's question like this: it doesn't matter if X predicts Y almost with certainty, if tomorrow some policy change will cause the relationship to fall apart entirely. Causality is more important than correlation, because causality is the only true test of an actual economic model. Moreover, causality isn't something that you get from matching your data with some DSGE equations, finding p<.00001 with Newey-West standard errors, then passing a Hausman test. Unless you have a plausible quasi-experiment with a tight chain of causality, you have nothing except a statistical relationship. You can't even identify a diagram like X -> Y -> Z -> X.

There is a sort of nihilism in that worldview. If someone makes a valid criticism that breaks your chain of causality, there's no honest response except to ask for a suspension of disbelief. When all's said and done, you're not allowed to believe anything except local average treatment effects (LATEs) from randomized experiments. I don't see this as a useful standard to hold every single piece of empirical research to, because it's unreasonably demanding.

That's why I would agree with your general response, since I think macro is useful. This is because of one of the other reasons you've mentioned - there seems to be a sort of stationarity in the data where predictive relationships remain stable for a while. That's where I permit some suspension of disbelief. I think that makes me relatively lax, but I don't see a better alternative to answering the kinds of questions macroeconomists and policymakers need to ask. I might rephrase your answer to OP's question like this: macro is useful if we're OK accepting a lower standard for what constitutes useful information. There is use for statistical relationships which we hope will continue into the future but which aren't, currently, causally founded.

u/Apetn · 13 pointsr/AskSocialScience

For intro sociology, I'd recommend some preachy nonfiction. They are written for laymen but introduce the sociological style of approach. Something like Fat Land or Uninsured in America.

Freakanomics is not exactly sociology, but could be an interesting read for someone interested in social economics / group behavior. Jonathan Kozol is a reporter, not a sociologist, but his stories mix investigative reporting with a human element to focus on topics of interest to the field of sociology. I remember Nickel and Dimed also being a good read.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is not a book about sociology, but rather a specific example of culture clash within the context of medical care. That being said, it is a big reason why I decided to become a social worker (which is a profession in line with the two fields mentioned in your post).

A Place at the Table is a movie that might fit the bill.

Note: I'm American. I imagine other places would have different topics of interest.

Edited: add movie and fix format

u/jambarama · 2 pointsr/AskSocialScience

Beyond intermediate texts, my classes ended up just reading papers from econ journals. You may want to pick up an econometrics text, get familiar with the methods, then read papers (here is a list of the 100 most cited).

I wrote my opinions on econometric textbooks I've used for another reddit comment, so I just pasted it in below. If you get into it, I'd recommend reading a less rigorous book straight through, then using a more rigorous text as reference or to do the practice stuff.

Less Mathematically Rigorous

  • Kennedy - survey of modeling issues without the math. More about how to think about modeling rather than how do it. Easy to read, I liked it

  • Angrist - similar to Kennedy, covers the why & how econometrics answers questions, very little math. Each chapter starts with a hitchhikers guide to the galaxy quote, which is fun. Just as good as Kennedy

  • Long - this book is more about just "doing stuff" and presenting results, absolutely non-technical, but also dodges the heavy thinking in Angrist & Kennedy so I wasn't a big fan

  • King - covers the thinking of Angrist & content of Maddala. It is more accessible but wordier, so give it a go if Kennedy or Angrist are too much. It is aimed at Poli Sci rather than econ.

    Middle of the Road

  • Gujarati - I used this for a class. It wasn't hard to follow, but it mostly taught methodology and the how/why/when/what, and I didn't like that - a little too "push button" and slow moving.

  • Woodlridge - a bit more rigorous than Gujarati, but it was more interesting and was clearer about motivations from the standpoint of interesting problems

  • Cameron & Trivedi - I liked the few chapters I read, the math is there, but the methodology isn't driven by the math. I ddin't get too far into it

    More Mathematically Rigorous

  • Greene - lots of math, so much it was distracting for me, but probably good for people who really want to learn the methodology

  • Wooldridge - similar to Greene, you need a solid understanding before diving into this book. Some of the chapters are impenetrable

  • Maddala - this book is best for probit/logit/tobit models and is somewhat technical but dated. My best econometrics teacher loved it
u/PopularWarfare · 2 pointsr/AskSocialScience

hmm... this is tough are you more interested in theory or application? Political Economy can get very abstract/philosophical which I personally like but it turns some people off.

why nations fail: great overview of Institutional/development economics by two phenomenal economists, Acemoglu and Robinson.

violence and social orders Another great book, it was written as introduction to North's theories for non-economists. Very interesting work.

capital in the 21st century: I don't think this book needs an introduction. But just in case, Picketty examines the interplay between economic prosperity and income inequality. The book was written with non-economists in mind. The math will greatly help your understanding but it's not necessary to understand his general arguments

Capitalism a general introduction to socioeconomics that is concise and a variety of topics on capitalism that have puzzled (and sometimes outraged) sociologists since the 19th century.

Development as Freedom: Sen argues that open dialogue, civil freedoms and political liberties are prerequisites for sustainable development.

The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers: A history of economic thought/theory that really elucidates the intersection of politics,economics and philosophy.

u/hotchikinburrito · 9 pointsr/AskSocialScience

In political science most of the literature on vote choice, at least in contexts with stable party systems, builds out of the loyalties people have to political parties. Partisanship creates what the authors of the seminal work The American Voter call a "perceptual screen" which filters information in ways that reinforce these ties. In other words, people first identify with a political party, then interpret the world in ways that support these views (think confirmation bias and motivated reasoning). This identification, moreover, typically [comes from parents](] or other early social experiences.

Vote choice and candidate preference then follows from these loyalties. Loyalties to a political party is symbolically and psychologically meaningfully, much like supporting a sports team or adhering to given religious tenets. That's why you'll see people sticking by candidates regardless of information, among many other political phenomena.

See this in the NYTimes for a quick overview.

u/wonkalot · 2 pointsr/AskSocialScience

I can't seem to find an ebook of either of these, but there are probably PDFs out there. The paperback copies are pretty cheap - and used copies run under $10. They're both seminal and deeply important texts (IMHO):

u/OutofH2G2references · 0 pointsr/AskSocialScience

As someone who majored in economics as an undergrad and who is now studying decision-making/psychology in grad-school, I suggest you focus more on economic philosophy than on traditional intro to econ stuff, like the text books being suggested, which usually focuses on micro and macro models.

I feel this way for two reasons.

  1. The of field of economics has not given up on B.F. Skinner-esk behaviorism. Many of the theories about preference, risk, and decision-making are just now starting to accommodate what Psychologists have understood for around 40 years. People are not perfectly rational decision makers. An example of this: It has only been a decade since Daniel Kahnemen won the nobel prize in Economics for Prospect Theory. A theory he devised in the 70's and which is increasingly seen as out of date/incomplete in the psychology literature.

    Utility theory was a useful first attempt at understanding how people make decisions, but like many first attempts, it just doesn't hold water 60 years later. Unfortunately economics has not adapted.

    Much of this is focused on the micro side, but I can do an equally long rant about how ridiculously out of date metrics like GDP, CPI, etc are in the realm of macro economics.

  2. Learning the models and mechanism won't actually illuminate which side of debate is right or wrong. Economics simply isn't advanced enough to tell us if Keynes, Marx, or Milton Friedman was right. I could go on at length about this, but I feel strongly that none of these theories will ever really be able to undermine the others because they start with the incorrect hypothesis that human behavior can only be predicted by strictly observing people's choices (meaning that the mechanisms driving those choices do not matter) and that people behavioral rationally.

    So, with that being said, I suggest a broader approach. Something like The Big Three which details the lives and philosophies of the 3 most influential thinkers in Economics (Smith, Marx, and Keynes)

    To further round out you knowledge I would also recommend Vienna & Chicago Which gives a good overview of classical and modern free market economics.

    Finally, I recommend Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman and Predictably Irrational, if you are unfamiliar with the work, as a good moderators of the two fields.
u/Dennerman1 · 2 pointsr/AskSocialScience

Two great books on this very topic, but the short answer is you have the best chance to change someone's mind when they see you as someone "on their side" or in their group/tribe. If they perceive you as someone from the "opposition" then they will get defensive and no amount of convincing, facts, or persuasion is likely to have an impact on their point of view.

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

u/rationalities · 0 pointsr/AskSocialScience

So I’m not sure if asking questions to a current economics student will be the best way to find out if you’re interested in the subject. Especially if you’re not very familiar with the subject. Instead. I’ll give you some resources that might give you a better understanding of the subject.

This link from the American Economic Association gives you an overview of the subject. Click all around the website because there is a plethora of information. As well, here’s a link from the AEA about careers for those with an economics degree (both undergrad and grad).

Next, I would read Freakonomics and it’s sequel, Superfreakonomics. They are much closer to the “pop-Economics” than “academic economics,” but the books give a very good intro into the “non-standard” topics that still fall under the domain of economics. And it would be true that many current graduate students and young professors’ interest in the subject was peeked by those books (myself included).

After that, I would read maybe an intro textbook. My recommendations on this depends on how comfortable you are with calculus.

u/xudoxis · 4 pointsr/AskSocialScience

Before you read, watch, or discuss Austrian economics anywhere on the internet or in person I suggest you read the great essay "Why I Am Not an Austrian" by Byran Caplan.

Austrian economics has unfortunately been enormously politicized, you'll see on most of reddit that Austrian and Keynesian are merely buzzwords used instead of Democrat and Republican. What Caplan does different is he gives an honest assessment of Austrian economics and more mainstream economics as opposed to the hit jobs you'll see of either side from of to mention reddit).

This subreddit(and most of "econ") ones are definitely more than anti-austrian than pro, and incorrect or childishly simplistic interpretations are often upvoted. While the libertarian/austria/an-cap subreddits are pig sties of shallow arrogant thinking where mainstream economics is just a con by bankers and the government to steal everything you are.

If you are interested in learning about Austrian economics your best bet is to pick up some books and choose for yourself. I'm partial to Modern Macroeconomics which gives good overviews of the important concepts of the major schools of economic thought over the past century and has really great interviews with major practitioners of each school. It is also freely available in pdf form.

u/faggina · 3 pointsr/AskSocialScience

Dear llordlloyd,

I am not an expert in taxation, but there is theory of optimal taxation called Ramsay taxation that to minimize tax distortion and inefficiencies, the tax rate has to be *inversely proportional" with its elasticity. The idea here is that higher tax rate lowers incentive to work. But if a person's effort on a particular occupation is inelastic, a high tax rate is efficient because it only reduces work effort by a small amount, while an occupation in which its work effort is sensitive to a higher tax rate, then a smaller tax rate should be implemented because you don't want to drastically reduce the amount of work effort.

I wish I could tell you more about taxation but Joel Slemrod's Taxing Ourselves is a good layman's book on the subject of taxation.

u/omaolligain · 1 pointr/AskSocialScience

Legislatures polarize. People do not.

And yes, legislatures (and the congress) have polarized substantially. DW-NOMINATE data on legislative voting behavior demonstrates a recent trend towards a highly polarized congress. Not all state legislatures are as polarized (see Shor-McCarty) but nationally this is certainly the case. DW-NOMINATE has put out this great video (you can see it on youtube here) that demonstrates the ideological movement of legislators in congress over time (from the 1st to the 111th legislature).

What we see amongst the voter however is maybe more of a faux-dealignment. Which is to say that people claim to identify less with either political party thusly, reporting themselves as being "independent". We can see this trend clearly in the surveys (see 2015 Gallup Poll).

However the prevailing models of electoral behavior cast a great deal of doubt on this being anything more than the electorate signally displeasure (perhaps over legislative polarization) while otherwise doing what they've always done. Campbell et al.'s The American Voter (which is the seminal electoral behavior work in contemporary american political science) argues that partisan identification is so stable that it is essentially inherited via a process of socialization and from one's own parents. They then go on to point out that all political preferences and decisions are then viewed through that inherited partisan lens. So while we see people self-reporting less affiliation with either party than we did before we don't see people behaving any differently. In fact, when we consider partisan leanings amongst independents (meaning: whether independents "lean democrat" or "lean republican") we don't see any added likelihood of the voters "switching" parties. In fact, we see most independents consistently vote for one party or the other based on their leanings in precisely the way Campbell's model suggested they would.


DW-NOMINATE - national polarization data

Shor-McCarty - state polarization data

Campbell et al. 1960. The American Voter

Additional reading:

V.O. Key. 1966. Responsible Electorate

u/balanced_goat · 5 pointsr/AskSocialScience

Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind is a bit more focused than some of the other suggestions, but incredibly fascinating, readable, and does a great job of documenting the evolution of an idea in social psychology, which may give him insight into what it actually means to be a social psychologist. Wish it was available for me to read when I was his age.

u/falsehood · 39 pointsr/AskSocialScience

(mods, please remove if my source is bad)

I like the book The Righteous Mind and its discussion of morality. One of the points it makes is that being loyal to one's tribe and obeying authority are deeply moral matters for some people - and that those are more important then being nice, or being fair. The President is the head of a group they identify with and thus they are loyal.

u/lawrencekhoo · 2 pointsr/AskSocialScience

You may find Acemoglu and Robinson's Why Nations Fail interesting reading. They are growth economists from MIT. Their main thesis is that states that are controlled by a small elite will tend to oppress the population and set up extractive economic institutions. These states will tend to stagnate, and because of political in-fighting, will eventually fail. Sustained economic development occurs when a state has pluralistic political institutions (which hold the exploitative tendencies of the elite in check), this in turn leads to inclusive economic institutions that allow the greater part of society the freedom to pursue and profit from economic success.

u/Cragsicles · 4 pointsr/AskSocialScience

I'm glad you've become interested in such a fascinating topic. However, it's pretty expansive, so here are some links to books and topics in terms of broad, global, and more specific studies related to the issue of income equality:

Broad Topic/Global:

u/blacktrance · 4 pointsr/AskSocialScience

Naked Economics by Charles Wheelan got me interested in the subject. It's a great place to start. Then I recommend reading an intro-level textbook, such as Mankiw's Principles.

u/cinemabaroque · 4 pointsr/AskSocialScience

If SES has historically been driven by race I feel that it is necessary to show that SES no longer continues to be driven by race, rather than the other way around.

However, we do have evidence that socio-economic status continues to be driven by race. Two popular works that are very well cited provide excellent examples of why this is true.

The first is Root Shock, which details the multi-generational impacts of disinvestment and community dis-location. I think it is fairly intuitive that if your grandparents are made poor you, yourself, are less likely to be rich. The real implications go beyond such simplified concepts as wealth. There are real, documented, health impacts that extend for multiple generations. When you look at historic inequities that drive current living conditions it becomes obvious that race continues to be a factor in SES.

The second is The New Jim Crow, when you look at the levels of mass incarceration of young black men and the impact of having a jail record on future job prospects I think that it is quite obvious that a new generation is being forced into an underclass. In addition to this felons are not allowed to vote in many US States, which adds another burden to civic participation.

Edit: Added links.

u/nilstycho · 11 pointsr/AskSocialScience

You might be interested in Jonathan Haidt's Moral foundations theory and his book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. He finds that both progressives and conservatives value fairness. Here's his TED Talk if you prefer that.

u/aidrocsid · 2 pointsr/AskSocialScience

Have you already read some mainstream books on economics? I'm not sure going straight to the fringe is the best way of understanding how money works, if that's your goal. Personally, my own introduction to economics was through socialism and the works for Marx and Engels, but that just made it harder to understand how things work economically. If you're looking to understand economics in the context of a capitalist society I wouldn't jump straight into looking at anti-capitalists.

Personally, I've found Naked Economics to be extremely enlightening.

u/GRANITO · 3 pointsr/AskSocialScience

Mostly Harmless Econometrics


The Signal and the Noise

are my recommendations for an introduction into more advanced topics in econometrics. If you want more of a textbook Th3Plot_inYou's suggestion is good (I still have mine from my class).

Edit: Signal and the Noise is more theoretical about forecasting in general.

u/mavnorman · 8 pointsr/AskSocialScience

I think I disagree with your answer, because I understand the OP's question slightly differently, and I'm therefore not quite convinced by the reasons you provide .

As I understand the OP, he asks whether the two-party system makes tribalism (ie. us.vs.them) more salient. Otherwise, the question wouldn't make much sense. Tribalism is probably innate, in the sense of "prepared for certain experiences", since it can be triggered by arbitrary differences.

If so, whoever claimed that a two-party system has a moderating effect didn't think hard enought.

Assuming that in every population people are normally distributed on a conservative-progressive scale, there will always be two parties fighting for the center – at least if they act economically (ie. rationally), and they assume peope vote for the party closest to their own preference.

Suppose an extreme third party manages to survive (in terms of making enought money for its politicians to make a living). Such an extreme party will persuade some voters on the extreme left or right. Let's say left for the sake of the argument. This weakens the left center party, obviously, but will it move to the left to (re-)gain voters?

Probably not, for every step to the left in search for profit (in terms of left voters) will have costs in terms of voters on the center. Given a normal distribution of voter preferences, any step to the left will have high costs (loosing many voters close to the center), while the profits are low (gaining only a few voters close the left extreme).

Of course, that's just a model but it describes the basic current political landscape in Germany.

Concerning whether the two party model in the US makes tribalism more salient: Some research indicates that it does. For examples, see "Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America" by Fiorina

For instance, according to surveys, the US public is not really divided on the issue of abortion. There's a majority to make abortion on demand legal in the first trimester, and to make it illegal in the third trimester. If I recall correctly, the second trimester is kind of fuzzy but the differences are not that high.

It's only people with extreme views (illegal vs. legal under all circumstances) who make this an on-going political issue in the US. In other words, given only two options, people on the extreme sides have more influence on the center than they otherwise would have.

Note that almost all European countries have mostly settled the issue decades ago.

u/novelty_Poop_Corn · 1 pointr/AskSocialScience

Having studied psych, I understand what you've said very well. I guess that's one thing about economics that I do know: the idea that humans are rational thinkers is an utter myth.

And I knew I recognized that author from somewhere!

"The Worldly Philosophers" seems similar to that first book you mentioned. Just wanted to point that out, it was suggested higher up.

Also, I find it interesting when people switch to a different subject for grad school. Why did you switch? Personally, I've become disillusioned with psychology and have began wanting to know "the big picture", like studying culture, hence why I started reading Graeber.

u/MKEndress · -25 pointsr/AskSocialScience

Yes. Your answer can be found in the pop book "Why Nations Fail" ( or the academic work of its authors. Short answer is that incentives matter, and markets provide great incentives.

NB: Neoliberal has no meaning in economics and is essentially a pejorative for anyone who does not align perfectly with the far left. We would refer to these policies as market liberalization, where liberal is used in the classical sense.

u/nemoniemand · 1 pointr/AskSocialScience

Great American City by Richard Sampson

Examines neighborhood effects in Chicago, focussing on the most segregated neighborhoods. Develops Sampson's hypotheses of the effects of collective efficacy. Generally influenced by Chicago school of urban studies.

More historically interesting, start of a more or less contested branch of theory, Social disorganization theory.
Shaw, Clifford R. and McKay, Henry D. Juvenile Delinquency and Urban Areas. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1969

If you want more of an individual-centered "light" read (and haven't read it already),
Code of the street by Elijah Anderson

u/honeyboots · 2 pointsr/AskSocialScience

Freefall and The Big Short are very good. While not exactly on the 2008 crisis, reading Reinhart and Rogoff is strongly recommended.

u/wellmanicuredman · 1 pointr/AskSocialScience

Yes for Varian, no for Freakonomics. For pop economics that actually has economic content, try the Undercover Economist

u/Clumpy · 6 pointsr/AskSocialScience

We're not nearly as divided as we sometimes think we are when looking at the wingnuts on both sides. Most people don't hold the extreme opinions on issues like gun control, taxation, or abortion that the fringe always ascribes to society as a whole.

u/socalian · 3 pointsr/AskSocialScience

Two books on the public policy process:

Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies by John W. Kingdon

Public Policymaking by James E. Anderson

u/cassander · 1 pointr/AskSocialScience

Political ideology in general is more or less identical to religious belief. we tend to inherit it mostly unexamined and it is ultimately founded on unprovable moral axioms, not logic. For more on this start here.

u/ranglejuice · 6 pointsr/AskSocialScience

That's an awesome list. I'd echo that the two very best sources to learn about the exact crimes committed leading up to the financial crisis are The Untouchables and
Inside Job.

And I'd add a third:
Predator Nation (written by the guy who made Inside Job)

If people just want a single source, The Untouchables is where they should go. It shows how banks sold products they knew were defective. That is fraud, and it is criminal. Simple as that. The executives were knowingly selling those products (and there were many) should be in jail.

Here's a fuller list of selections I can recommend from a reading list at Any of these sources are good for learning what was going on leading up to the crash.


NPR: The Giant Pool of Money |
NPR: Return to the Giant Pool of Money |
NPR: Another Frightening Show about the Economy |
EconTalk interview w/ Simon Johnson


Addendum to Inside Job |
PBS: Money, Power, & Wall Street |
Aljazeera: Meltdown |
60 Minutes: The Speed Traders |
Quants: The Alchemists of Wall Street


I.O.U. - John Lanchester |
Griftopia - Matt Taibbi |
Infectious Greed - Frank Partnoy |
All the Devils are Here - Joe Nocera & Bethany McLean |
Traders, Guns, and Money - Satyajit Das |
Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report

ETA: I see that a moderator here is requesting academic sources. Here are three good ones: Fault Lines - Raghuram Rajan | Republic, Lost - Lawrence Lessig | This Time Is Different - Reinhart & Rogoff

To be honest, most of the academic sources I've read don't focus on criminality on Wall Street. I'd love to find more that do, though.

u/ZPTs · 2 pointsr/AskSocialScience

Regarding the polarization part, Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America is a good read. He puts the onus on politicians and tactics.

Fiorina and others argue that most Americans really are in the middle and that the notion of polarization is overblown. If centrist voters make "polarized" choices, keeping their beliefs and positions constant, their voting behavior will appear more polarized when the candidates act more extreme left/right.

When these relationships between voters and their candidates change, analysts tend to assign the source of the change to voter attitudes, not as a response to changes in candidate strategy and candidate behavior.

u/bokehtoast · 8 pointsr/AskSocialScience

Check out The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, she discusses mass incarceration in relation to the war on drugs and it's relation to institutional racism. I don't know enough on the topic to answer your question but she covers it in detail.

u/Panserborne · 2 pointsr/AskSocialScience

Poor Economics for a great discussion on the many small, incremental steps that add up and could help alleviate poverty.

The Bottom Billion for a nice discussion on the various poverty traps a country can get stuck in. This book focuses more on the bigger macro picture, and less on the incentives and lives of individuals.

Why Nations Fail - I'll admit I haven't read this yet, but a lot of people seem to rate it highly. It looks at the broad picture of what determines the wealth of nations, and especially the nature of extractive vs. inclusive institutions.

I haven't heard of anyone advocating that a central bank play a key role in ending poverty. Central banks are there to help smooth output fluctuations, by keeping unemployment near its "natural" level and inflation low and stable. There's nothing in their tool-set that could bring a country out of poverty. Though they're certainly very important as bad monetary policy can destroy a country.

To describe it another way: poverty alleviation is about creating a long-term upward trend in output per person. But there are unpredictable variations the economy experiences around this long-term trend (recessions). The central bank's job is to prevent or minimize these deviations from trend, by preventing recessions. But it does not determine the long-term trend itself.

u/just_works_here · 1 pointr/AskSocialScience

No worries, and I appreciate the difficulty of asking a seemingly charged question but intending neutrality; the way your original question was worded brought to mind a number of different theories or areas of social science research, and it was difficult to pin down.

So, for your first point, there is not specific research I am aware of that could measure that sort of thing directly, as the causal mechanism (the leader's espousal of an opinion) would be extremely difficult to isolate from an entire universe of other potential causes.

What this does bring to mind, however, is a body of research known as Agenda Setting in Public Policy research. Broadly, this is a theory which describes how different problems or policy alternatives get pushed from the available pool to the ultimate decision making process, and leadership plays an important role in the promotion of problems. Classics in this area are Kingdon and Cobb and Elder (1983).

On your second point, while a number of other strands of social science research come to mind, I'm not sure there's anything on point that would provide much clarity.

The core of the problem with these claims (e.g. Rhetoric used in the 2016 US Presidential Election causes a spike in recruitment for extremist organizations in the Middle East), and what makes them difficult to answer is that there are too many variables to control for which makes it difficult to get leverage on the problem or a 'clean' answer.

I hope this helps!

edit: minor clarity/specificity

u/Laerphon · 11 pointsr/AskSocialScience

The section in your main link (Sharkey et al.) on individual poverty covers most of the primary ideas behind general crime motivations / lack of inhibition. It does not cover violence specifically as much. To supplement that, I would recommend Elijah Anderson's The Code of the Street as an entry point to the extensive literature on the role of violence and the threat of violence in communities of concentrated disadvantage (i.e. "the ghetto"). To that, add the deep literature on aversion to contacting the police in poor communities of color---and the resulting reliance on violence and other informal methods for solving disputes---and you have a pretty clear recipe for high violence.