“Jobs” as a Red Herring: The Dangers of Make-Work Bias on Feed 44

C4SS Feed 44 presents Nathan Goodman‘s “‘Jobs’ as a Red Herring: The Dangers of Make-Work Bias” read and edited by Nick Ford.

Still, many people measure an economy’s health in terms of employment, a phenomenon economist Bryan Caplan calls “make-work bias, a tendency to underestimate the economic benefits of conserving labor.”

And there are obvious economic benefits to conserving labor. Suppose Kevin Carson is right that 3-D printers will create a homebrew industrial revolution, allowing individuals and small shops to produce modern consumer goods at incredibly low costs and with very little requisite labor. This would likely eliminate plenty of jobs in both manufacturing and sales, as people move to creating goods at low cost in their homes or neighborhoods. But while there would be fewer jobs, people would be much better off. They would have more stuff at lower costs, and likely more freedom to choose what to do with their time.

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