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04/02/2006

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Rae

South Korea has, on the whole, abandoned lifetime employment practices and adopted flexible hiring and firing practices instead. But still public companies and large-size firms maintain the old practice.

I think it is not because they don't need innovations but because they have powerful labor unions.

Paco

Dear Professor Becker:

I found your discussion of family behavior patterns in Ireland to pose a fascinating puzzle or anomaly, since it appears there was a significant change in behavior without a corresponding change in underlying religious beliefs. Though you purport to disown Marxian 'economic determinism', it appears that some form of determinism is at work (what I like to call 'econ. determinism lite' to distinguish it from the hard-core Marxist version, since the belief structure is not necessarily affected by economics but behavior is). So, in a descriptive (as opposed to prescriptive) sense, one could argue that 'we are all Marxists' (the 'we' being most economic analysts).

Paco

Dear Professor Becker:

I found your discussion of family behavior patterns in Ireland to pose a fascinating puzzle or anomaly, since it appears there was a significant change in behavior without a corresponding change in underlying religious beliefs. Though you purport to disown Marxian 'economic determinism', it appears that some form of determinism is at work (what I like to call 'econ. determinism lite' to distinguish it from the hard-core Marxist version, since the belief structure is not necessarily affected by economics but behavior is). So, in a descriptive (as opposed to prescriptive) sense, one could argue that 'we are all Marxists' (the 'we' being most economic analysts).

Arun Khanna

Re: In a nutshell what I claim is that major economic and technological changes frequently trump culture in the sense that they induce enormous changes not only in behavior but also in beliefs.

One could argue you only cite Macadamia nuts and not peanuts. The examples you cite in support are examples of "economically successful" countries. It could be argued that 'intensity of culture' differences across countries are an important determinant of which countries adapt successfully to social changes that accompany economic success.

Richard Mason

units of measurement

On a tangent: it is curious that carbonated soft drinks in two-liter bottles are so well-accepted in American life, while milk, orange juice, gasoline, etc., are still sold in quarts and gallons. I wonder why that is.

Apparently Pepsi-Cola was the first to introduce the two-liter bottle. It may be relevant that Pepsi portrayed itself as "the Choice of a New Generation," rather than associating itself with familiar tradition. But Coca-Cola responded with its own two-liter bottles rather than with, say, a half-gallon bottle.

anon

What is the history of taxation in Ireland? Aren't taxes low right now in Ireland? People worship making dollars in Ireland because it is so attractive from a taxation standpoint.

People drink a lot of alcohol in Ireland. IN the past, when women can not divorce a guy for religious reasons, this fosters and accomodates guys who drink a lot. Under the old religious regime, a guy know the wife can not leave him no matter how much the guy drinks (and the concomitant problems from substance abuse).

Under the new regime, a guy knows he had better manage his drinking and not descend into a morass of abuse and unproductive behavior or else his wife will leavel him. This has to make the guys in Ireland more productive. Couple this with taxation and bam = economic growth!

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