Do Generous Welfare Benefits Lead To High Unemployment? (Short Version)

(This is a shortened version of my last post. Essentially I shortened it, removed all the technical economic terms and put into plain English. If you want to see my sources and the evidence I base this article on then see the last post.)

It is commonly stated as fact that generous unemployment benefits leads to high unemployment. The argument is that people won’t bother getting a job if they can get paid for not working. It is often declared that there is more money on the dole than in a job and that the only problem with the unemployed is that they lack motivation. However there is little or no evidence to support this belief. Countless studies have been done without finding the supposedly large disincentive effect. In fact countries with generous welfare benefits (such as Sweden and Denmark) have on average lower unemployment. Continue reading “Do Generous Welfare Benefits Lead To High Unemployment? (Short Version)”

Do Generous Welfare Benefits Lead To High Unemployment? (Long Version)

(This was originally written as a college essay. For this reason it is 3,000 words long and contains a lot of economics terms references. It is meant as a help for anyone who wants an in-depth study of the topic with supporting facts and figures. For a short version in plain English see here. The essay was marked the best in my class of 80 students. It won the Undergraduate Award 2012 in Economics along with someone from Yale. I’m not trying to boast but I’m over the moon.)

Abstract

This paper discusses the conventional wisdom that unemployment benefits create a disincentive to work, the so-called “welfare trap”. It examines if higher benefit levels or longer benefit durations lead to higher unemployment rates. Surprisingly, it finds that the disincentive effect is negligible to non-existent. A wide range of different studies have found little or no disincentive effect. The orthodox economic view which states that workers will quit their jobs if they will receive more money from unemployment benefits has been found to be naive and unrealistic. Despite the large number of people who believe it to be true, it simply is not supported by evidence. Continue reading “Do Generous Welfare Benefits Lead To High Unemployment? (Long Version)”

John Maynard Keynes Quotes

Keynes is one of the most famous economists of all time and the one whose ideas will get us out of this recession. So here is a collection of some of his best quotes.

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The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity at the Treasury.

Look after unemployment and the Budget will look after itself

In the long run we are all dead. Continue reading “John Maynard Keynes Quotes”

In The Right Place At The Right Time

A while ago I read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It is a book about very successful people and tries to find out what makes them so special. Surprisingly, he does not conclude that it is due to superior skill or talent. In fact he argues that there is no such thing as natural talent, rather all skill derives from practice. Instead it is luck that allows people to achieve enormous success. People become successful because they were in the right place at the right time. Continue reading “In The Right Place At The Right Time”

The Mythical Laffer Curve

Conservatives everywhere condemn the use of tax increases for fear of the Laffer Curve. This is the idea that if taxes are too high, people will lose the incentive to work and therefore revenue will actually decrease. It is most famous for its counter-intuitive argument that a tax cut could increase revenue. Unfortunately there is little or no evidence to support this claim. History clearly shows that cutting taxes does not increase revenue. The Laffer curve is a political idea used to justify tax cuts for the rich. It is not based on sound economics.

Continue reading “The Mythical Laffer Curve”

Marikana Mine Massacre

On the 16th of August South African police opened fire on striking miners in Marikana. 112 people were shot, 34 killed and 78 wounded. There were allegations of murder and counter claims of self-defence as well as comparisons to the Apartheid era. Suspiciously, not a single officer was even slightly wounded. Bizarrely the police responded by arresting 270 strikers but not a single police officer. Recent reports claim that most of the victims were shot in the back and far from police lines. It’s looking more and more like we are dealing with a massacre of innocent strikers, a South African Bloody Sunday. Continue reading “Marikana Mine Massacre”

The Myth Of The Self-Made Millionaire

Most millionaires claim that they are self-made in that they earned their fortune alone. But no person is an island. Every millionaire owes their fortune to the help they received from others. In this world we are so interdependent that no one achieves anything without help from another. Obama was right, we received more help than we can possibly imagine. Our wealth and success are not only a measure of our talents and luck, but also a measure of how much help we had. We are tall because we stand on the shoulders of giants. Continue reading “The Myth Of The Self-Made Millionaire”

Economics Of Discrimination

If we were rational logical people living in a neo-classical world there would be no discrimination. People would only be judged according to their productivity and nothing else. All races would receive equal pay and job opportunities. In fact Milton Friedman even developed a theory in which racist firms would be driven out of business by inclusive firms. Yet discrimination does exist. For generations many businesses would only hire white people. Even today ethnic minorities are paid less than white people and suffered from higher unemployment. The perfect neo-classical utopia does not exist. Social norms determine action just as much as pure economics. We need government to right the wrongs of the free market. Continue reading “Economics Of Discrimination”