Saturday, November 21

Unhiding property taxes

I've been a renter ever since I left home five years ago, so property taxes are not something I've worried about. They have always been something for my landlord has to deal with, while I just concern myself with the total value of my rent cheque.

Of course, a good chunk of the property tax gets passed on to me in the form of a higher rent. If my landlord faces higher property taxes, she'll probably raise my rent to help her pay for the tax increase. So I really should be interested in property taxes, since it indirectly affects my rent.

I gave this matter no thought until yesterday, when I received a letter from the City of Hamilton describing the property taxes on the apartment building I live in.

Friday, November 20

Football and violence

An unsettling new study suggests that upset losses in NFL games cause an increase in reports of male-on-female domestic violence (hat tip to Freakonomics).

The study is by controversial economist David Card and Gordon Dahl. They look at how many reports of domestic abuse police in NFL cities receive shortly after games where the local team was expected to win by more than three points, but actually lost. They find that these upset games increase the likelihood of domestic violence occurring by 8% for male-on-female violence compared to non-game days. There was no notable effect on female-on-male violence.

Wednesday, November 4

Add sneezing to the list

Recently, I blogged about how lemon-scented Windex and AC-DC music can affect the results of economic experiments. We can now add another factor to that list: sneezing.

Researchers in Michigan found that a pollster who sneezed before handing over a survey about health led to lower approval of the American health care system and predictions of lower health outcomes for Americans by survey respondents than when the pollster didn't sneeze.

Thanks to the Freakonomics blog for this one.

Monday, November 2

Are government employees more selfish?

One difference between left wingers and right wingers are their views of whether government or the private sector are better placed to offer services to citizens. Left wingers tend to be suspicious of businesses and more trusting of government, while right wingers tend to feel the opposite.

So perhaps a worthwhile question to ask is whether people running governments are any different than people running businesses. The answer is "yes," according to a recent study by Dutch researchers Margaretha Buurman, Robert Dur and Seth Van den Bossche.