How different frameworks matter to how we think about frictions
This is fascinating. I wish I was younger and still research active!
Good thoughts well written. I'm a retired academic (PhD Accounting, federal tax specialty) and I was also an Associate Dean in a business school for a long time. My field is, of course, riddled with burdens but the difference is we elect the people who pass the tax laws (even though it's staffers who do the actually writing). I've always proposed that anyone who writes tax law should be required to prepare tax returns for two years prior to writing tax laws. Although the university I was at the longest had seven colleges/schools, including Arts & Sciences, the economics faculty were in the school of business (they understood higher salaries). This lead to very interesting faculty meetings concerning theory vs practice. Your footnote on interdisciplinary is dead on. I engaged in numerous debates with economics faculty about assuming "no taxes" when developing their models since this defied reality. I would add that I think academic journal editors also need to be called out since often, their personal research biases inhibit research and publishing results that do not conform (epistemological tyranny). In some fields, if you don't at least footnote certain other research your paper won't even be considered. Keep fighting the good fight.
Really interesting! I work with Medicaid managed care organizations on state contract procurements. MMC RFPs and contracts clearly demonstrate that state and federal Medicaid regulators understand the impact of admin burdens because there are lots of requirements aimed at reducing burdens on both beneficiaries and providers that negatively impact access to and availability of care.
Yes, great piece- many forget about the equivalency between a targeted program and a universal program that increases taxes (both result in the same financial allocation, but the first one increases non-financial costs, increases burdens and usually hurts the most vulnerable). I wrote about a similar issue regarding work requirements to be eligible for benefits - https://www.nominalnews.com/p/work-requirements-snap
With healtcare there's also the incentive problem. Insurers have very little incentive to negotiate prices of medicines (they can just increase premiums in the future and their profit margin on premiums is limited by regulation). In a universal system, the buyer is the government, a monopsony. It can determine the price of medicines since producers of medicine have nowhere else to go. A similar issue occurs in education and tuition setting.
Lastly, as an economist, I 100% agree that the field is very poor in bringing in people from other disciplines. This is a major problem. It became very noticeable when economists did COVID research and modelling on lockdowns. Without input from epidemiologists, econ research for example completely forgot about the concept of new virus variants.
Great piece. I would add that health economists (who are often disregarded as not being "real" economists) have been arguing in favor of universal basic health insurance for decades. But we've largely been doing it on the grounds of overcoming administrative inefficiency for first-order effects (rents earned, not for the behavioral effects induced - which are, as you and Pam have convinced me thoroughly, likely more important) and in recognition of all of the various inherent conditions for market failure in health care (see Arrow's 1963 paper and subsequent). Health economists are also far more likely to be willing to engage in normative discussions, and so we also advocate on the grounds that public policy should be seeking affirmatively to use health care resources to maximize population health and reduce health disparities.