Bryan Douglas Caplan
April 8, 1971
Northridge, California, U.S.
|Influences||Ben Bernanke, James M. Buchanan, Michael Huemer, Ludwig von Mises, Philip Tetlock|
|Information at IDEAS / RePEc|
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in the United States
Bryan Douglas Caplan (born April 8, 1971) is an American economist and author. Caplan is a professor of economics at George Mason University, research fellow at the Mercatus Center, adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and former contributor to the Freakonomics blog and EconLog. He currently publishes his own blog, Bet on It. Caplan is a self-described "economic libertarian". The bulk of Caplan's academic work is in behavioral economics and public economics, especially public choice theory.
Early life and education
Caplan was born in Northridge, California, on April 8, 1971. He obtained a B.A. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1993 and a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University, in 1997.
The Myth of the Rational Voter
The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, published in 2007, further develops the "rational irrationality" concept from Caplan's earlier academic writing. It draws heavily from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy in making the argument that voters have systematically biased beliefs about many important economic topics. Caplan writes that rational irrationality is an explanation for the failure of democracy. The book was reviewed in the popular press, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The New Yorker, as well as in academic publications such as the Journal of Libertarian Studies, Public Choice, Libertarian Papers, and The Independent Review. It received a disparaging critique by Rupert Read in the European Review.
Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids
In 2011, Caplan published his second book, titled Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, arguing that people often work too hard in child-rearing, and as a result, they are scared of the idea of having children. Caplan's book urged parents to relax with respect to child-rearing. The book argues that as the perceived costs (in terms of child-rearing expense and effort) of having children fell, it made sense to have more children based on the basic theory of supply and demand. The book was reviewed in The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, RealClearMarkets, and The Washington Times. It also led to debates sponsored by The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian. The Guardian had Caplan debating "Tiger Mom" Amy Chua on the merits of strict parenting style. The book was also featured in a story on National Public Radio. Kirkus Reviews described it as "inconsistent and unpersuasive."
"The Ideological Turing Test"
In a June 2011 blog post titled "The Ideological Turing Test" contesting Paul Krugman's claim that political liberals can accurately state conservatives' views but not vice versa, Caplan proposed a test analogous to a kind of Turing test: instead of judging whether a chatbot had accurately imitated a person, the test would judge whether a person had accurately stated the views of ideological opponents to the opponents' satisfaction. Other writers have since said of someone that they can (or can't) "pass an ideological Turing test" if they are deemed to be capable (or incapable) of understanding and accurately stating an adversary's arguments.
The Case Against Education
The Case Against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money was published in 2018 by Princeton University Press. Drawing on the economic concept of job market signaling and research in educational psychology, the book argues that much of higher education is very inefficient and has only a small effect in improving human capital, contrary to much of the conventional consensus in labor economics that Caplan claims takes the human capital theory for granted.
Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration
Caplan and Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal cartoonist Zach Weinersmith created the graphic non-fiction book Open Borders: the Science and Ethics of Immigration, which was released on October 29, 2019.
Tyler Cowen called it "a landmark in economic education, how to present economic ideas, and the integration of economic analysis and graphic visuals." The Economist praised it as "a model of respectful, persuasive argument". Kevin D. Williamson concluded a review of the book with "Professor Caplan's argument is multifaceted, energetically presented, fun to read, and worth giving some real attention to if only as an exercise in clarifying one's own thinking about the question".
National Review said that the book was "fun to read" and well-presented but that Caplan did not address some obvious counterarguments against open borders and suggested that he oversimplified the issue.
Labor Econ Versus the World
In 2022, Caplan published Labor Econ Versus the World: Essays on the World's Greatest Market, a collection of his essays from the publication EconLog edited by Jack Pfefferkorn. In it, Caplan argues against minimum wage laws, immigration bans, government spending on education, and Keynesianism.
Tyler Cowen wrote a reaction to the book, stating that his disagreement with Caplan is "that most of the inequity occurs upstream of labor markets, through the medium of culture."
Caplan was cited as one of the leading proponents of the open borders position in articles in The Atlantic and Vox. He has also been quoted on the topic of immigration in outlets such as the Huffington Post and Time magazine.
Caplan's anarcho-capitalist views were discussed by Brian Doherty in his book Radicals for Capitalism and in Reason magazine. Caplan has argued that anarcho-capitalists have a better claim on the history of anarchist thought than "mainstream anarchists", or "left-anarchists", as he refers to them. This argument has been disputed by other anarchists.
- Crittenden, Michael R. (June 26, 2009). "Bernanke Blasted in House". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on September 1, 2019. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
Bryan Caplan, a George Mason University economics professor and a former Ph.D student of Mr. Bernanke's.
- "Why I Am Not an Austrian Economist". Econfaculty.gmu.edu. Archived from the original on July 4, 2019. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
- "Bryan Caplan on the Case Against Education". EconTalk (Podcast). February 12, 2018. 33:50 minutes in. Archived from the original on April 30, 2019. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
- "Bryan Caplan Archives". Archived from the original on August 20, 2017. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
- Caplan, Bryan (March 2022). "Bet on It: What's in the Name?". betonit.substack.com. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
- Block, Walter (2010). I Chose Liberty: Autobiographies of Contemporary Libertarians. Ludwig von Mises Institute. p. 429. ISBN 9781610162708.: 73
- Hatlestad, Luc (August 19, 2016). "Is Anarchy the Solution to Our Political Problems?". 5280. Archived from the original on September 27, 2016. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
- Menand, Louis (July 9, 2007). "Fractured Franchise". The New Yorker. Conde Nast. Archived from the original on October 11, 2016. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
- "Bryan Caplan". econfaculty.gmu.edu. Archived from the original on April 16, 2017. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- Block, Walter (December 25, 2011). "Review of "The Myth of the Rational Voter"". Psychology Today. Sussex. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
- Casse, Daniel (July 10, 2007). "Casting a Ballot With A Certain Cast of Mind". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on July 30, 2018. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
- Bass, Gary J. (May 27, 2007). "Clueless". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 26, 2018. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
- Block, Walter. "The Myth of the Rational Voter (book review)" (PDF). Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 22 (2011), Page 689-718. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 20, 2016. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
- Lomasky, Loren (June 2008). "Swing and a myth: a review of Caplan's The Myth of the Rational Voter". Public Choice. 135 (3–4): 469–484. doi:10.1007/s11127-007-9273-7. S2CID 153330363.
- Farrand, Stuart (2010). "Critique of Caplan's The Myth of the Rational Voter" (PDF). Libertarian Papers, Vol. 2, Article No. 28. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 31, 2018. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
- Callahan, Gene (Winter 2009). "The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies (book review)". The Independent Review. Archived from the original on July 31, 2018. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
- Read, Rupert (December 14, 2010). "Economist-kings? A Critical Notice on Caplan, The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies". European Review. Cambridge University Press. 19 (1): 119–129. doi:10.1017/S1062798710000426. S2CID 143437722.
Caplan's The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies has been received by rave reviews. These reviews appear to have failed to note that Caplan's book celebrates the market and denigrates democracy at the very time when markets worldwide have failed and democracies have ridden to the rescue. It thus appears to have been undermined fatally by events that occurred as it was published (and which Caplan artfully omits to mention in the more recent paperback edition). Caplan's book in fact stands in the long tradition of anti-democratic writings that argue that an elite must rule. An elite of free-market economists. An elite no longer in good odour, since the financial crisis (and the climate crisis) occurred and became starkly evident to all. This Critical Notice also points out that numerous of Caplan's key claims, such as that individual voters have zero effect on election results, are empirically false.
- Davis, Tanika (October 15, 2015). "Are parents making parenting harder than it has to be?". Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on May 11, 2019. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
- Last, Jonathan (April 16, 2011). "Go Ahead, Have Another". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on June 30, 2017. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
- McVeigh, Tracy (May 15, 2011). "Parenting guru Bryan Caplan prescribes less fuss – and more fun". The Guardian. Archived from the original on May 11, 2019. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
- Tamny, John (August 4, 2011). "Book Review: Bryan Caplan's Selfish Reasons To Have More Kids". RealClearMarkets. Archived from the original on November 5, 2013. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
- Russell, Nicole (May 4, 2011). "Go and Multiply, Without Guilt". The Washington Times. Archived from the original on September 29, 2013. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
- "Live Chat: Should You Have More Kids?". The Guardian. April 14, 2011. Archived from the original on September 18, 2013. Retrieved June 20, 2015.
- Saner, Emine (June 11, 2011). "Is strict parenting better for children?". The Guardian. Archived from the original on September 18, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
- Inskeep, Steve; David Greene; Renee Montagne (April 22, 2011). "'Selfish Reasons' For Parents To Enjoy Having Kids". Morning Edition. National Public Radio. Archived from the original on September 29, 2013. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
- "Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids by Bryan Caplan". Kirkus Reviews. March 1, 2011. Archived from the original on May 11, 2019. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
- Hannon, Michael (November 2020). "Empathetic understanding and deliberative democracy". Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. 101 (3): 591–611 (600). doi:10.1111/phpr.12624. S2CID 200071509.
A useful heuristic is what Bryan Caplan (2011) calls the 'political turing test'. Caplan actually calls this the 'ideological turing test', but I prefer my label in the context of this paper.
- Galef, Julia (2021). "Could you pass an ideological Turing test?". The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don't. New York: Portfolio/Penguin. pp. 203–205 (204). ISBN 9780735217553. OCLC 1164823768.
I treat the ideological Turing test as a kind of 'North Star', an ideal to guide my thinking ... I once saw someone talk about how important it is to be able to pass an ideological Turing test and then add, 'Of course, people often don't want to do this, because they're afraid they'll change their minds.'
- Kling, Arnold (2019). The Three Languages of Politics: Talking Across the Political Divides (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: Cato Institute. p. 66. ISBN 9781948647427. OCLC 1110724336.
That characterization of progressives and conservatives would not pass an ideological Turing test.
- Matthews, Dylan (August 9, 2019). "How 'Archie Carter' hoaxed Quillette, the hoax-loving 'Intellectual Dark Web' site". Vox. Archived from the original on August 10, 2019. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
I wanted to do a sort of performance art to do three things: first, ... pass the partisan Turing test; second, to do my own Sokal experiment; and third, to demonstrate why the Right is good at propaganda.
- "The Case Against Education". independent.org. Retrieved February 20, 2022.
- "Economist Bryan Caplan Thinks Education Is Mostly Pointless Showing Off.We Test the Strength of His Case". 80000hours.org. May 22, 2018. Retrieved February 20, 2022.
- Foxe, Steve (March 21, 2019). "Cover Reveal: Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration". Paste. Archived from the original on March 30, 2019. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
- "Open Borders: The Grafic Novel". Marginal Revolution. October 29, 2019. Retrieved November 8, 2023.
- "The case for migration—in pictures". The Economist. December 14, 2019. Archived from the original on December 13, 2019. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
- "More Is More: Caplan and 'Open Borders'". National Review. November 6, 2019. Retrieved March 14, 2020.
- Williamson, Kevin D. (November 6, 2019). "More Is More: Caplan and 'Open Borders'". National Review. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
- Cowen, Tyler (January 26, 2022). "Where I differ from Bryan Caplan's *Labor Econ Versus the World*". Marginal REVOLUTION. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
- Raviv, Shaun (April 26, 2013). "If People Could Immigrate Anywhere, Would Poverty Be Eliminated?". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on May 7, 2019. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
- Matthews, Dylan (December 15, 2014). "The case for open borders". Vox. Archived from the original on May 8, 2019. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
- Roberson, Steve (March 8, 2013). "Immigrants – The Once, and Future, Story of Jobs". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on October 2, 2016. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
- Matthews, Chris (January 30, 2013). "The Economics of Immigration: Who Wins, Who Loses and Why". Time Magazine. Archived from the original on September 29, 2013. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
- Doherty, Brian (April 3, 2013). "Anarcho-Capitalism: So Crazy, It Just Might Work!". Reason. Archived from the original on April 28, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
- "Replies to Some Errors and Distortions in Bryan Caplan's "Anarchist Theory FAQ" version 5.2". Spunk Library. Archived from the original on November 22, 2018. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
- "Appendix : Anarchism and "anarcho"-capitalism" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 2, 2013.
- Rich, Motoko (April 16, 2011). "Who Really Cares How Yuppies Raise Their Kids?". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 11, 2019. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
- "The Economist's Guide to Parenting". Archived from the original on April 22, 2017. Retrieved May 1, 2017.