Thesis Corner: Annie Vela

Alex Shaw (AS): Annie, first, what was your thesis about? Annie Vela (AV):  My thesis was about US government changing allocation of funding from public prisons to public education. AS: How did you arrive at this topic? AV: When Kate (Stirling) asked us to start thinking of a topic over the summer, I started thinking about which of my economics classes I really enjoyed my Urban Economics class with Bruce Mann, which I loved. I’m very interested in how economic policy tangibly affects actual people. So I thought about topics that focused on people, and education is super important to Continue reading Thesis Corner: Annie Vela

Countries’ GDP Visualized

It can be difficult to visualize how big a country’s economy is. I decided to make an area chart to give us an idea of how much of the world’s output is done by only a small fraction of countries. From this, we can see that first 16 or so capture more 75% of the global GDP. That said, of these countries, some are also the largest population wise; China, India, the United States, Brazil, etc. That is a large reason why they command such large economies, but many of them are smaller, population wise.   I’ve also made a Continue reading Countries’ GDP Visualized

Trends of Hours Worked and Employment of G7

This week, I wanted to examine data to see if there was a trend with average hours worked and employment, as well as unemployment. We would expect that as employment increases, so would hours worked. I took data from the OECD from the G7 members, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US. seven of the major advanced economies in the world, Here are the results. So far, France follows the trend we would expect; employment and hours worked are mostly parallel. Canada also mostly follows this, but we can see a slight trend where employment has been Continue reading Trends of Hours Worked and Employment of G7

Medicaid Expansion in USA

Recently, the House Republicans pulled the American Health Care Act (AHCA) from consideration, signaling a failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare. However, the AHCA would have left parts of the ACA intact; the only parts that are outright repealed are the individual, and employer mandates, and subsidies for out-of-pocket expenses. Everything else is either altered, or untouched. Many Republicans refused to vote for the AHCA because they thought it didn’t repeal enough of the ACA. However, when compared to similarly advanced economies, the United States health care system is rather unique in Continue reading Medicaid Expansion in USA

March Madness Probabilities

Every year during the NCAA Basketball National Championship, or March Madness, fans make bracket predictions and often make bets on them. Warren Buffet, the billionaire investor of Berkshire Hathaway, once offered one billion dollars for anyone who could predict a perfect bracket. But what exactly are the odds of predicting a perfect bracket? Buffet actually made one of the safest bets he could. First, let’s assume that each team has a 50% chance of winning any given game. The probability is calculated by simply taking the number of outcomes from a game, one team could win or the other team Continue reading March Madness Probabilities

Game Theory of Super Smash Bros. Melee

I’m going to completely nerd out for this post (not that I haven’t been doing that in the past). I’m going to be telling you about my favorite video game, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and more specifically, about some of the Game Theory involved in competitive play. But first, there are a few aspects of the game that I need to talk about first. In Melee, unlike most other fighting games, the characters don’t have life-meters. In order to take a life, a character has to be hit beyond the boundaries of the stage. Each hit that a character takes Continue reading Game Theory of Super Smash Bros. Melee

The Irrationality of Free

One of the books I’ve been reading for Economics of Happiness, the best connections class to make you happy (maybe except for the wine-tasting one) is Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely, who examines some of the incentives and day-to-day interactions we have, how they affect our decisions, and more specifically, how they nudge us towards irrational decisions. One idea that we can’t deal with very well is the idea of free, or costing zero. If something is free, or costs zero, our decision making about that thing changes considerably. Predictably Irrational discusses how when presented with an otherwise great deal Continue reading The Irrationality of Free

Better Life Index

Once a week, the writers of Sound Economics meet to talk about our ideas for the blog. Recently, we came up with the idea to include a section that links to websites that we believe would be interesting to our audience. Even more recently, I learned about from Kate Stirling in my Economics of Happiness Connections course about the OECD’s (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) Better Life Index, which ranks its 38 member countries with a combination of 11 categories: Housing, Income, Jobs, Community, Education, Environment, Civic Engagement, Health, Life Satisfaction, Safety, and Work-Life Balance. These categories are each Continue reading Better Life Index

Some Miss Out on Minimum Wage

Many states have been following the push to increase the minimum wage, with the hope of increasing the standard of living, and make the minimum wage a “living wage.” Yet many workers are still missing out on wage hikes because they work for tips. Many state minimum wage laws provide some sort of exemption from workers who receive tips. There is a minimum wage, and a “tipping minimum wage,” where the minimum wage for employees whose income partially comes from tips is typically lower than the minimum wage for employees who don’t get tips. In fact, only seven states mandate Continue reading Some Miss Out on Minimum Wage

Thanksgiving Travel Stats

As many of you may know, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after are the busiest travel days in terms of the number of people flying in the United States. Many of us felt this experience, not only at the airport, but also with our wallet. The price of airfare was almost a hundred dollars lower traveling on Tuesday and Saturday each way instead. Considering I was flying between Seattle and Oakland, that’s big difference. However, if you account all modes of transportation, Thanksgiving day is actually to peak travel day, as you can see here. It turns out Continue reading Thanksgiving Travel Stats