Weekly Top 5 Papers – March 12, 2018

1. Pulling the Goalie: Hockey and Investment Implications by Clifford S. Asness (AQR Capital Management) and Aaron Brown (LLC New York University (NYU) – Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences)

2. The Moral Hazard of Lifesaving Innovations: Naloxone Access, Opioid Abuse, and Crime by Jennifer L. Doleac (University of Virginia – Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy) and Anita Mukherjee (University of Wisconsin – Madison – School of Business)

A number of recent studies have provided one piece of bad news after another about how our efforts to reduce opioid-related mortality are failing. Our study is one more piece of bad news. The takeaway for practitioners and policymakers should be that the opioid epidemic has no easy solutions, and efforts like expanding naloxone access to help save the lives of those who overdose could unintendedly make the problem worse.

On a more positive note, we find that a higher density of substance abuse treatment centers can mitigate the negative effects of broadening naloxone access. This suggests that access to treatment is an important complement to increased naloxone access. -Jennifer Doleac and Anita Mukherjee

3. The Political Economy of Black Panther’s Wakanda by J. Robert Subrick (James Madison University- Department of Economics)

4. A Brief Introduction to the Basics of Game Theory by Matthew O. Jackson ( Stanford University – Department of Economics)

5. The Department of Education’s Obama-Era Initiative on Racial Disparities in School Discipline: Wrong For Students and Teachers, Wrong on the Law by Gail L. Heriot (University of San Diego School of Law) and Alison Somin (Independent

One of the Obama-era Department of Education’s most important
education initiatives was an effort to reduce what administration
officials perceived to be the excessively high disciplinary rates of
African-American, Hispanic, and Native American students relative to
those of other racial groups. Pursuant to this initiative, the Obama
Department of Education issued a detailed guidance letter in 2014 and
opened up many investigations into school districts across the country
based on disproportionate rates.
From early on, problems stood out to us: what if the differences in
discipline rates reflected not racial bias or discrimination, but
differences in rates of misbehavior? Wouldn’t then the new initiative
just make things worse by discouraging consequences for bad behavior?
Unfortunately, as we discuss in the article, news reports indicate
that school districts that adopted the Department of Education’s
preferred approach were indeed afflicted with increased classroom
disorder.
We are also interested in the legal flaws of this initiative. The
Department of Education interpreted Title VI of the Civil Rights Act
of 1964 as a “disparate impact” law — that is, banning educational
practices that have an adverse effect on a particular racial group,
even if this effect was unintended. For reasons we discuss in the
paper, Title VI was not intended as a true disparate impact statute,
and federal agencies have only limited power to issue prophylactic
disparate impact regulations under Title VI. As Russlynn Ali, former
assistant secretary for the Department of Education observed,
“Disparate impact is woven through all civil rights enforcement of
this administration.” Our arguments about why this initiative was
unlawful have implications for civil rights law in a number of other

areas. – Alison Somin & Gail Heriot 

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