Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Why Sex, Drugs and Economics?

Welcome to my new blog, "Sex, Drugs and Economics". You might rightfully ask, why call your blog "Sex, Drugs and Economics"? Well, some time ago I was asked to describe my research interests in a single (short) sentence. I have always had a pretty wide portfolio of research interests (if you are interested, my Google Scholar profile is here), but at the time my main research interests were in the economics of HIV/AIDS (my PhD thesis was on the relationships between poverty and HIV/AIDS in the Northeast of Thailand), and I was embarking on a new project on the spatial economics and impacts of liquor outlet density (research which has since generated a significant amount of publicity as liquor licensing laws have been reviewed and subsequently changed in New Zealand). Thus: sex, drugs and economics.

Why blog at all?
Until a few years ago, my first year elective economics paper (ECON110 Economics and Society - still my favourite paper to teach) students had to complete a blog as part of their assessment for the paper. Students found this to be one of the most challenging, and most rewarding, aspects of the paper (I've published on their this innovative assessment here, with a much longer ungated version here).

It was also a great way to launch discussions of how even basic economics applies in the real world. So, in part this blog is a way for me to create a discussion space for my students, and help them to recognise the value in the economic approach to looking at real-world situations.

I'm not entirely unselfish though. There is research to suggest that blogging boosts the reputation of the blogger above economists with similar publication records, and it would be silly not to try and milk some of those benefits. And it's a good way to talk about some of the quirky research that others are doing, using economics.

What can you expect from this blog?
It's unlikely that I'll become a daily (or more frequent) blogger in the way that some of my favourite bloggers are, like Jodi Beggs at Economists Do It With Models. But I'll aim to post once or twice a week - sometimes on contemporary issues, and sometimes on quirky applied economics papers from the recent past. I'm hoping that most of my posts will apply some fairly basic economic principles, to make them accessible to my students.


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