You might want to read the article I read: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33477077/ns/business-the_new_york_times/

]]>Isn’t the key part of this problem that the number of children people have is variable? The reason names are likely to die out is that some people have no children at all. I don’t think this makes the problem that much more complicated – number of children can be drawn from an poisson or exponential distribution with a mean of 2. Having said that, I don’t have an answer.

]]>Part 1: We start with a subproblem. First imagine an upside-down tree of G generations descending from a root person, with each person in the tree being either male or female and having C children. The last name “survives” if there is a chain from top to bottom that’s all male. It does not survive if all chains contain at least one female. We will call this latter probability f(G), with f(G-1) being the probability that there is a female in all chains that descend from a child of the original root person. Now we look at it recursively. There’s two ways for the name not to survive, either the root person is a female (.5 chance) or the root is a man and there is a female in all chains that descend from everyone of the man’s C children (f(G-1)^C chance). We can then write f(G)=.5+.5*f(G-1)^C with f(1)=.5.

Then if we start with Mr. EconLove, the probability that his names lasts Y generations is 1-f(Y)^D.

Part 2: Plugging all that into the computer, the probability of the name continuing-on drops below 50% between the 3rd and 4th generation. If C>2 then the probability of the name living on always stays above 50%. This is understandable because with this condition the population is always growing.

]]>Bruce Bueno de Mesquita has been interviewed several times:

http://www.econtalk.org/archives/_featuring/bruce_bueno_de_mesquita/

In the most recent one (from last year), he talk about Iran. He is very big on mutual nuclear deterrence as a way of ensuring peace.

]]>Question though: what’s US metrification?

]]>Income prospect is the motivation behind investment decisions. For Canada, income levels get better when either our terms of trade improve or we become more productive. Since 2000, commodity prices have exploded as China, and arguably the rest of the BRIC, have begun to industrialize and develop. Something we already know how to produce is becoming more valuable. Investors would be attracted to use their money to duplicate older techniques that are proven and less risky. Unfortunately, this eats away at the funds and productive inputs available for other sectors of the economy while not helping us develop our technological capabilities.

This seems like a scenario that could explain the productivity decline. I’d love to see a time series on the share of Canadian investment expenditures funneled into resource extraction. I bet you’d find it has risen considerably recently. It would also be great if someone could figure out how much of investment goes into duplication – basing new pursuits on proven methods – versus innovative creation. Would countries with scarce resources push more money into pattern investments?

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