I admit that I’m an optimistic person.  I liked this NY Times article about reduced fatalities per mile flown.  A few years, Dora Costa and I published a paper that our demand for safety rises faster than the growth in per-capita income.   This demand should spur both safety efforts by private firms who supply planes and cars and by regulators seeking to improve our standard of living.    I’m now writing a book (with Siqi Zheng of Tsinghua)  about risk reduction in China caused by the growth of their urban middle class.  Economic development has its benefits.

Author: Matthew E. Kahn

Professor of Economics at UCLA.

6 thoughts on “Progress”

  1. Thanks to the link to the airline safety story. You see what happens when meddling guv mint boorocrats stick their nose into private industry, eh?

    1. Now if the government would just privatize air traffic control, there might be an even greater improvement in safety. The FAA has been dragging its feet for decades on technology upgrades because it literally takes an act of Congress to make major changes.

  2. What happens when you include the deaths from superstorms, rising sea levels, starvation, draught, disease, and famine, all consequences of climate disruption caused by carbon emissions.

  3. There is a sort of cognitive dissonance built into airline travel. A huge statistical base attests to its safety, and that was true even before the particularly good run of the last 10 years or so. On the other hand, there is an undeniable vulnerability in a pressurized tube of people flying high and fast, and then blasting into a crowded airport at a still-high speed. I am not a white-knuckle flier myself, but I can see where the nervous systems of such folks are coming from. Part of Osama bin Laden’s malevolent legacy was the exploitation and enhancement of that statistically unfounded sense of dread, causing us to do bad things to ourselves for decades after. I would say that justifies just about any sort of retaliation short of assassinating him.

  4. Nit-picking. The third sentence does not scan. At least you did better than Matt Yglesia, who tends to typos in the first sentence. ;=)

  5. Keith was right in giving a shout-out to meddling gummint boorocrats. A lot of credit also goes to an even more despised group: personal injury lawyers. That’s why you know you won’t get acutely sick from McDonald’s hamburgers. Of course, there are limits to what personal injury lawyers can do–they haven’t yet figured out a way to make obesity actionable.

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