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Blog highlights

At the Phenomenal World, we have been publishing pieces covering a wide-range of topics, many of which are common ground in this newsletter. Below, in no particular order, is a round-up of some recent work in case you missed it.

Be on the lookout for upcoming posts over the next months—including work on counterfactual fairness by Lily Hu; an interview with scholar Destin Jenkins on race and municipal finance; an examination of the philosophy of Neyman-Pearson testing by Cosmo Grant; and a piece on UBI in the 1970s by Nikita Shepard—and subscribe to the Phenomenal World newsletter to get new posts directly in your inbox.

As always, thank you for reading.

  • Max Kasy discusses the standard of social science experimentation—randomized controlled trials—and proposes, in a new working paper with his colleague Anja Sautmann, a new method for designing experiments that lead to the optimal policy choice. Link.
  • Amanda Page-Hoongrajok reviews James Crotty’s new book, Keynes Against Capitalism. Page-Hoongrajok discusses Keynes’s thought, Crotty’s interventions, and the relevance of these discussions for the current macroeconomic environment. Link.
  • Owen Davis surveys the monopsony literature, dispelling some persistent misunderstandings and clarifying its significance for the state of current economics research. Link.
  • Maya Adereth interviews the legendary and influential political scientist Adam Przeworski. In an expansive conversation, Przeworski discusses his intellectual trajectory, his experience and observations around Allende’s government in Chile, the neoliberal turn, and the future of popular politics. Link.
  • Greg Keenan examines the history of copyright formalities in the United States and Europe, arguing that the frequently derided US copyright regime is, in fact, well suited for the digital age. Link.
  • Hana Beach interviews basic income scholar Almaz Zelleke on the neglected history of feminist welfare rights activists’s campaigns for unconditional cash transfers, the complex relationship between advocacy and policy, and the current drive towards UBI. Link.


The proliferation of capitalist economic relations in the United States

Recent graduate of SUNY Binghamton and current part time sociology professor at Drexel University JAMES PARISOT writes about the development of capitalism and the international state system. In a paper summarizing his dissertation research, he studies how the United States transitioned from a “society with capitalism” to a “capitalist society.” His account details the wide variety of labor relations and alternative trajectories underpinning this development:

“If anything characterizes this history, it is complex uneven development. The origins of capitalism are not found in the black and white class relations of north and south, but in the complex borderlands and grey areas of history, in which back and forth movements for and against wage labor took place, in which the modern construct of race was born, wherein patriarchy was remade through the development of ‘public’ and ‘private’ space, and whereby the middle ground between settlers and natives was destroyed to pave the way for an ‘empty’ space for capital to remake itself in its own image.”

Link to the paper, and to Parisot’s website.

Each week we highlight great work from a graduate student, postdoc, or early-career professor. Have you read any excellent research recently that you’d like to see shared here? Send it our way: editorial@jainfamilyinstitute.org.


  • We’re hiring a digital ethics fellow, and also soliciting applications for a seminar on economic mobility in New York City led by Pascale Mevs.
  • At VoxEU, a post on digital currency areas: “Digitalisation will break barriers and cross borders. But, because of its many inseparable dimensions, it may ultimately lead to an increased fragmentation of the international financial system.” Link.
  • “Not everyone believes in the coming AI Jobpocalypse, but everybody who has studied the question is sure that the biggest growth area in employment in the developed world is going to be care, especially care of the elderly. At the moment, a great deal of this care work is either done for free or very badly paid. Unwaged and underpaid work can be ameliorated by UBI, which gives a direct cash sum to unpaid workers, underpaid women and unremunerated carers.” John Lanchester makes the case for a UBI in the London Review of Books. Link.
  • The Cold War origins of the “modeling strategy turn” responsible for integrating uncertainty into recursive optimization and transforming both engineering and macroeconomics. Link.
  • Rather than increasing study time and mental health, researchers Philip Oreopoulos and Uros Petronijevic find that online coaching causes students to “adjust grade expectations downward.” Link. ht Sidhya
  • Defenders of the present EITC structure, which offers no credit to people with no income, often cite the psychological benefits associated with the “dignity of work.” In a new study, Daiga Kamerāde, Senhu Wang, Brendan Burchell, and their colleagues found that just 8 hours of work a week are sufficient to produce these benefits, suggesting that working hours mandated by the present EITC may not increase wellbeing to the degree that advocates claim. Link.
  • “Aggregate Effects of Budget Stimulus: Evidence from the Large Fiscal Expansions Database” by Jérémie Cohen-Setton, Egor Gornostay and Colombe Ladreit de Lacharrière. Link.
  • Austan Goolsbee and Chad Syverson find significant monopsony power over tenure track faculty in the higher education labor market. Link.
  • “While predictive tools often present recommendations, there is little oversight as to how decision-makers may overrule or follow them.” A new paper by Alex Albright analyzes the introduction of risk scores to guide bail decisions in Kentucky, finding that the policy increased racial disparities in initial bond. Link.
  • An analysis of cost and quality of housing in 7 European cities over 500 years, from Piet Eichholtz, Matthijs Korevaar, and Thies Lindenthal. Link.
  • Tim Higginbotham weighs in on claims that Alaska’s 440 million dollars in budget cuts were made necessary by the state’s Permanent Fund Dividend: “The 1.2 billion dollar budget deficit could be immediately closed with a move as simple as eliminating the 1.2 billion dollars in deductible tax credits that will be lost to oil companies this year.” Link.

Each week we highlight research from a graduate student, postdoc, or early-career professor. Send us recommendations: editorial@jainfamilyinstitute.org

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