Monday, February 10, 2014

Put your money where your mouth is

Planet money has another show that is making me re-think my opposition to subsidies for public radio, The Bet 

Paul Ehrlich, biologist, author of the population bomb, predicted that prices would go up as population grew.  He reasoned that predicted population increases would increase demand for minerals which would drive up their price.

Julian Simon, economist, predicted that technological advances would lower the cost of extraction, and that price increases would cause people to find substitutes.  In other words, supply would shift out and become more elastic as price went up.  If supply shifts faster than demand, then price goes down.

Simon won on all counts.

What is interesting about the interview is how anti-science Ehrlich seems in retrospect.  He is unwilling to subject his theory to empirical testing. 

1 comment:

  1. I would assume that Ehrlich based his argument on "ceteris paribus" using population growth as the only variable, without taking into account the technological advances that would increase supply and compensate for the growth. Thoughts?

    - Adrian Villa ECONS 555

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