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Lars Pålsson Syll

Lars Pålsson Syll

Professor at Malmö University. Primary research interest - the philosophy, history and methodology of economics.

Articles by Lars Pålsson Syll

Skolval och segregation

13 hours ago

Vi undersöker hur skolsegregationen rent hypotetiskt skulle ha utvecklats om alla elever gått i den närmsta kommunala skolan, och inte haft möjlighet att välja skola. I figuren visas denna utveckling med den svarta linjen. I början av 1990-talet gick nästan alla elever i den närmsta skolan och därför är skillnaden mellan verklig skolsegregation (blå linje) och hypotetisk skolsegregation (svart linje) inte så stor. Utvecklingen av den svarta linjen visar att skolsegregationen skulle ha ökat betydligt även utan möjlighet att välja skola, en ökning som kan hänföras till att boendet blivit allt mer segregerat. Skillnaden mellan den blåa och den svarta linjen visar skolvalets bidrag till skolsegregationen, det vill säga den del av skolsegregationen som beror på att elever inte

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Ulf Kristersson har helt rätt

3 days ago

Ulf Kristersson har helt rätt

Moderaterna kräver idag att regeringen ökar trycket på att personal som arbetar inom vården eller med riskgrupper vaccinerar sig mot covid 19. De som avstår från att vaccinera sig bör överväga att byta anställning eller omplaceras, skriver Moderaterna i ett pressmeddelande.
Det är sällan man har anledning hålla med den moderate partiledaren, men här har han för en gångs skull klockrent rätt!

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Fooled by randomness

5 days ago

A non-trivial part of teaching statistics to social science students is made up of teaching them to perform significance testing. A problem yours truly has noticed repeatedly over the years, however, is that no matter how careful you try to be in explicating what the probabilities generated by these statistical tests — p-values — really are, still most students misinterpret them.
A couple of years ago I gave a statistics course for the Swedish National Research School in History, and at the exam I asked the students to explain how one should correctly interpret p-values. Although the correct definition is p(data|null hypothesis), a majority of the students either misinterpreted the p-value as being the likelihood of a sampling error (which of course is wrong, since the very

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MMT-perspektiv på pengar och skatter

7 days ago

MMT-perspektiv på pengar och skatter

Om stater inte alls behöver sina medborgares pengar, varför betalar vi då överhuvudtaget skatt?
Stephanie Kelton: – Ponera att den amerikanska staten skulle slopa alla skatter utan att samtidigt skära ned på sina utgifter. Om jag inte längre behöver betala någon skatt kan jag såklart göra av med mer pengar – problemet är bara att ekonomin och dess samlade arbetsstyrka samtidigt endast har en begränsad mängd extra varor och tjänster att erbjuda. Förr eller senare är kapaciteten förbrukad och då kommer inte utbudet längre kunna hålla jämna steg med den växande efterfrågan. I det läget blir varorna och tjänsterna dyrare och mina dollar tappar i värde. Om staten i en sådan situation inte ikläder sig rollen som

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Interview mit Stephanie Kelton

7 days ago

Interview mit Stephanie Kelton

Kelton: Die Vorstellung, dass Staaten nur eine begrenzte Menge an Geld zur Verfügung hätten, kommt aus einer Zeit, in der die Währung in den meisten Ländern in der einen oder anderen Form an Edelmetalle wie Gold oder Silber gekoppelt war. Heute ist das nicht mehr so. Geld wird einfach gedruckt – genauer gesagt: im Computer erzeugt. Es lässt sich beliebig vermehren.
ZEIT: Das klingt jetzt so, als würden Sie einem Kind sagen: Süßigkeiten machen nicht dick. Nimm dir, so viel du willst!
Kelton: Nein, nein! Es gibt eine Grenze für die Staatsausgaben. Aber diese Grenze wird nicht durch die Höhe der Verschuldung bestimmt, sondern durch die Inflationsrate.
ZEIT: Wie meinen Sie das denn genau? Wir in Deutschland denken beim Thema

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Big data truthiness

9 days ago

All of these examples exhibit the confusion that often accompanies the drawing of causal conclusions from observational data. The likelihood of such confusion is not diminished by increasing the amount of data, although the publicity given to ‘big data’ would have us believe so. Obviously the flawed causal connection between drowning and eating ice cream does not diminish if we increase the number of cases from a few dozen to a few million. The amateur carpenter’s complaint that ‘this board is too short, and even though I’ve cut it four more times, it is still too short,’ seems eerily appropriate.

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Garbage-can econometrics

11 days ago

When no formal theory is available, as is often the case, then the analyst needs to justify statistical specifications by showing that they fit the data. That means more than just “running things.” It means careful graphical and crosstabular analysis …
When I present this argument … one or more scholars say, “But shouldn’t I control for every-thing I can? If not, aren’t my regression coefficients biased due to excluded variables?” But this argument is not as persuasive as it may seem initially.
First of all, if what you are doing is mis-specified already, then adding or excluding other variables has no tendency to make things consistently better or worse. The excluded variable argument only works if you are sure your specification is precisely correct with all variables

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Econometrics and the challenge of regression specification

11 days ago

Econometrics and the challenge of regression specification

Most work in econometrics and regression analysis is — still — made on the assumption that the researcher has a theoretical model that is ‘true.’ Based on this belief of having a correct specification for an econometric model or running a regression, one proceeds as if the only problem remaining to solve have to do with measurement and observation.
When things sound too good to be true, they usually aren’t. And that goes for econometric wet dreams too. The snag is, of course, that there is pretty little to support the perfect specification assumption. Looking around in social science and economics we don’t find a single regression or econometric model that lives up to the standards set by the

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Overconfident economists

11 days ago

Worst of all, when we feel pumped up with our progress, a tectonic shift can occur, like the Panic of 2008, making it seem as though our long journey has left us disappointingly close to the State of Complete Ignorance whence we began …
It often takes years down the Path, but sooner or later, someone articulates the concerns that gnaw away in each of us and asks if the Assumptions are valid …
It would be much healthier for all of us if we could accept our fate, recognize that perfect knowledge will be forever beyond our reach and find happiness with what we have …
Can we economists agree that it is extremely hard work to squeeze truths from our data sets and what we genuinely understand will remain uncomfortably limited? We need words in our methodological vocabulary to

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Master Class

13 days ago

. [embedded content]
Bille August’s and Ingmar Bergman’s masterpiece.
With breathtakingly beautiful music by Stefan Nilsson   
And it breaks my heart every time I watch it.

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NAIRU — closer to religion than science

13 days ago

NAIRU — closer to religion than science

Once we see how weak the foundations for the natural rate of unemployment are, other arguments for pursuing rates of unemployment economists once thought impossible become more clear. Wages can increase at the expense of corporate profits without causing inflation …
The harder we push on improving output and employment, the more we learn how much we can achieve on those two fronts. That hopeful idea is the polar opposite of a natural, unalterable rate of unemployment. And it’s an idea and attitude that we need to embrace if we’re to have a shot at fully recovering from the wreckage of the Great Recession.
Mike Konczal / Vox

NAIRU does not hold water simply because it has not existed for the last 50 years. But

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NAIRU — a harmful fairy tale

16 days ago

NAIRU — a harmful fairy tale

The NAIRU story has always had a very clear policy implication — attempts to promote full employment is doomed to fail, since governments and central banks can’t push unemployment below the critical NAIRU threshold without causing harmful runaway inflation.

Althouigh a lot of mainstream economists and politicians have a touching faith in the NAIRU fairy tale, it doesn’t hold water when scrutinized.
One of the main problems with NAIRU is that it is essentially a timeless long-run equilibrium attractor to which actual unemployment (allegedly) has to adjust. If that equilibrium is itself changing — and in ways that depend on the process of getting to the equilibrium — well, then we can’t really be sure what that equlibrium

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If thou hast shown mercy

18 days ago

If thou hast shown mercy

[embedded content]
If thou hast shown mercy
unto man, o man,
that same mercy
shall be shown thee there;
and if on an orphan
thou hast shown compassion,
that same shall there
deliver thee from want.
If in this life
the naked thou hast clothed,
the same shall give thee
shelter there,
and sing the psalm:
Alleluia.

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Postmodern thinking

21 days ago

The compulsive types there correspond to the paranoids here. The wistful opposition to factual research, the legitimate consciousness that scientism forgets what is best, exacerbates through its naïvété the split from which it suffers. Instead of comprehending the facts, behind which others are barricaded, it hurriedly throws together whatever it can grab from them, rushing off to play so uncritically with apochryphal cognitions, with a couple isolated and hypostatized categories, and with itself, that it is easily disposed of by referring to the unyielding facts. It is precisely the critical element which is lost in the apparently independent thought. The insistence on the secret of the world hidden beneath the shell, which dares not explain how it relates to the shell,

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How scientists manipulate research

22 days ago

How scientists manipulate research

[embedded content]All science entails human judgment, and using statistical models doesn’t relieve us of that necessity. Working with misspecified models, the scientific value of significance testing is actually zero — even though you’re making valid statistical inferences! Statistical models and concomitant significance tests are no substitutes for doing real science.
In its standard form, a significance test is not the kind of ‘severe test’ that we are looking for in our search for being able to confirm or disconfirm empirical scientific hypotheses. This is problematic for many reasons, one being that there is a strong tendency to accept the null hypothesis since they can’t be rejected at the standard 5% significance

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Förnöjsamhet

22 days ago

Zufriedenheit, contentedness, contentment, contentezza — en alldeles för underskattad karaktärsegenskap!

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Trots det lever jag utan förtvivlan

26 days ago

Trots det lever jag utan förtvivlan

Om den värld jag tillhör har jag inte något hopp. Undergången är inbyggd i systemet, ty vart varningsrop blir strax förlöjligat och därmed oskadliggjort.
Trots det lever jag utan förtvivlan. Det tillhör den enskildes villkor att leva vid katastrofens rand. Vägen fram till döden ter sig lika lång, var man än befinner sig i livet. Så är det också med mänsklighetens tillvaro.
Jag uppfattar den vemodsfyllda blick varmed unga människor ser på mig. Jag känner igen den. De vet inte att jag betraktar dem på samma sätt och mäter deras återstående liv i samma förgängelsekänslas tecken. Alla hör vi samman.
Olof Lagercrantz

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Econometrics — the art of pulling a rabbit out of a hat

27 days ago

Econometrics — the art of pulling a rabbit out of a hat

In econometrics one often gets the feeling that many of its practitioners think of it as a kind of automatic inferential machine: input data and out comes causal knowledge. This is — as Joan Robinson once had it — like pulling a rabbit from a hat. Great — but first you have to put the rabbit in the hat. And this is where assumptions come in to the picture.
The assumption of imaginary ‘superpopulations’ is one of the many dubious assumptions used in modern econometrics, and as Clint Ballinger highlights, this is a particularly questionable rabbit pulling assumption:
Inferential statistics are based on taking a random sample from a larger population … and attempting to draw conclusions about a) the

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Hommage

27 days ago

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[embedded content]
Sven-Bertil Taubes med rätta hyllade föreställning på Cirkus i Stockholm ligger nu på SVT Play. Se den!

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Ekonomiprofessorerna och ‘tämjandet’ av marknadskrafterna i skolan

28 days ago

Ekonomiprofessorerna och ‘tämjandet’ av marknadskrafterna i skolan

I Sverige år 2020 låter vi friskolekoncerner med många gånger undermålig verksamhet få plocka ut skyhöga vinster, vinster som den svenska staten låter dessa koncerner ta av vår skattefinansierade skolpeng. En av landets största friskolekoncerner — Engelska skolan — gjorde senaste året en vinst på 250 miljoner kronor (för varje elev genererades 10 000 kronor i vinst). 
Många är med rätta upprörda och de som är kritiska till privatisering av skola har haft gyllene tillfällen att tydligt och klart tala om att man nu vill se till att undanröja möjligheterna för vinstdrivande bolag att verka inom skolan. Men så har inte skett. Som min gamla kollega  Ann-Marie Pålsson skriver i Sydsvenskan

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