Lotteries, Pot, and Happiness: More Reporting from CELS

Dave Hoffman

Dave Hoffman is the Murray Shusterman Professor of Transactional and Business Law at Temple Law School. He specializes in law and psychology, contracts, and quantitative analysis of civil procedure. He currently teaches contracts, civil procedure, corporations, and law and economics.

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5 Responses

  1. Josh says:

    Dave: I’m not sure why you or Bob Frank would say that folks at the University of Chicago 20 years ago, or at TOTM today (speaking as one of the resident economists at that blog), would “scoff” at a serious empirical project evaluating how a shock like this would impact behavior. Maybe you were being funny? Or maybe Bob was taking a cheap shot at the Chicago School? Fair enough. But there are some pretty serious applied microeconomists, IO and Labor econ folks in that Chicago crowd if I remember correctly. Anyway, as for the actual study and results, it certainly sounds interesting to me (and I’ll look forward to reading it in detail when it becomes publicly available).

    More generally, I appreciate your posts on the CELS panels. I had to miss the conference this year and it is nice to get some sense of what is going on!

  2. dave hoffman says:

    I’m not going to speak for Bob Frank, but here’s what I had mind. My perception of first-generation L&E work (i.e., last generation in Chicago) is that they would have expected that individuals who received a large lump sum payment would, all things equal, be better off than those who received a small lump sum payment. Thus, they wouldn’t have scoffed at the empirical project, but rather its motivating hypothesis, which, as I understood it, was that large winners will be irrational discounters, estimators, and spenders, and therefore will be worse off over all. (It may be this is isn’t the paper’s complete thesis – I, like Josh, really look forward to the authors posting a draft up on the ‘net.)

    The swipe at ToTM was 95% a joke, but mostly a nod to what I see as the blog’s position as a leading place on the web where you can see what modern neoclassical L&E thinking on legal problems looks like – – not really a proxy for the chicago school, but better in that ill-fitting role than the chicago faculty blog!

    Thanks for the kind words about the blogging. Wish I’d been to more panels. If anyone else has reports from the field, please post them in the comments. In particular, the family law & bankruptcy panels looked useful.

  3. Josh says:

    Dave: Fair enough. I’m not going to say anything about the motivational basis or methodological design of a paper I haven’t read. But if one took a thorough look at the contributions of Chicago economists to fields like applied micro, IO and Labor, I don’t think the “scoffing” point holds up. For just one example, Chicago School antitrust economists who believed that anticompetitive conduct was highly improbable to persist in the marketplace were among the only ones to find empirical examples of monopolization.

    The “scoff” comment reads to me like it is intended to paint those particular economists as dismissive about competing economic views of the world or ideologically driven to the point that they did not engage in serious discourse (in favor of “scoffing”). Caricatures of the Chicago School are not too uncommon these days. I object only to the extent that any such characterization was intended. And I will reduce any offense taken to the TOTM reference by 95% …

  4. A.J. Sutter says:

    Regarding the Stevenson & Wolfe paper: were the intutitive graphic displays that they presented different from the graphics in their paper? The latter do not seeem to be models of Tuftean clarity.

  5. A.J. Sutter says:

    One more brief comment about the Stevenson-Wolfer paper: it’s interesting that although the authors note, “In contrast, Japan stands out as a remarkable success story, recording rising happiness during its period of rapid economic growth,” they don’t mention anything about the context in which this occurred: viz., following a couple of decades of a police state, plus a devastating war, nuclear attack and a humiliating defeat and occupation. Indeed, there are many countries in which growth occurred in relatively pacific times following a harrowing wartime experience. Was this mentioned at the conference?