Friday, September 27, 2019

Yang vs Warren

Click here to read my column in this coming Sunday's NY Times.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Trophy Wife Tax Credit

As I have pointed out, Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax, as described, involves a substantial marriage penalty. Now Bernie Sanders comes along with his own wealth tax proposal. He solves the marriage penalty problem by halving the thresholds for singles.  This approach introduces the opposite problem--a marriage bonus.

As I understand the plan, if a single man is worth $30 million, he pays $140,000 per year under the Sanders wealth tax. If he marries his assistant, who has a wealth of less than $2 million, their tax liability falls to zero.

For a single man with higher wealth, the marriage bonus is even larger. Under the Sanders plan, for someone worth $100 million, marriage can reduce the tax liability by $410,000 per year.

Put another way, this plan can be viewed as imposing a tax on widows and widowers. A married couple worth $30 million does not pay anything. When one spouse dies, the surviving spouse then owes $140,000 per year.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Economics Teaching Conference

I will be talking at the annual conference of the National Economics Teaching Association, to be held October 24-25, 2019, in Kansas City. If you are interested in learning more about the meeting, click here for more information.

From the conference organizers:  The deadline to have a teaching session considered for the conference has been extended to Monday, September 23. Be sure to get your submission in ASAP! You can submit here.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Should grad students teach?

A student emails me a question:
Dear Prof. Mankiw, 
I am in the first week of my PhD in economics. I follow your blog and I have read the advice you have posted for graduate students. 
I have heard competing hypotheses about whether PhD students should teach during their studies. On one hand, teaching is a great experience and a CV-builder for hopeful future academics. On the other hand, teaching is a lot of work, and the opportunity cost of time for any PhD student is high. 
Do you have any advice about how a PhD student (and a big fan of your blog!) can reconcile these points? 
[name withheld]
Teaching is not necessary while pursuing a PhD, but it is usually a good idea for several reasons.
  1. Grad students can usually use the money, and teaching is often a good way to make some.
  2. Teaching improves your oral presentation skills, which will be crucial when you go on the job market.
  3. You will learn whether you enjoy teaching. If not, you might consider alternatives to an academic career.
  4. When you apply for jobs, teaching experience will be a plus for many schools that might hire you.
  5. Teaching will help remind you why you fell in love with economics in the first place. That can be useful during those inevitable days when your dissertation research is not going well.
  6. Teaching will provide greater variety to your day than if you are solely focused on research. The personal interaction with students will often lift your spirits.
  7. When you are teaching, you can be confident that you are making positive contributions to society, and that feeling is also good for your mental health.
Let me also mention one risk: If you enjoy teaching, you might use it as a distraction from getting your dissertation done. The key is moderation. Teach some, but not too much.