Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What evidence?

Happiness researchers keep looking for the link between money and happiness. But it is clear that being poor is not attractive. A lot of research on poor neighborhoods finds reduced consumer choice and higher retail prices. Interpretations are all over the place, including discrimination and the assorted evils of capitalism.

But Debabrata Talukdar's study ("Cost of Being Poor: Retail Price and Consumer Price Search Differences ...") concludes that the carless are hampered from doing comparison shopping and (so to speak) pay the price. (H/T Marginal Revolution).

Public transit does not help -- even though it is promoted as a way to "help the poor." A half-minute of introspection suggests what is obvious: getting around to comparison shop via public transit is too costly in terms of people's time and patience. Declining ridership in spite of rising subsidies provide hard evidence that no one really cares to look at. The transportation reauthorization proposals now before Congress suggest even more money for public transit. Politicians from both parties are on-board. And why not? They get to dole out money to favored constituencies while posturing about how "equitable" and "green" it all is.

And policy making is now all about being "evidence-based"