Thursday, September 4, 2008

Risks and economics

It didn't take long but there was a letter to The Age newspaper in Australia from a medical researcher complaining about Parentonomics and the idea that an economist might have something useful to say about parenting. The letter writer had not read the book and so was taking it all way too seriously while also engaging in stereotypical jibes against economic rationalism. The basic point was that economists should stay away from such matters.

This was on my mind today as I read economist Justin Wolfers who was writing about a study by three economists into the advice given to pregnant women as to whether they should get an amnio or not. The point was that the medical advice neglected option value and so it is possible that too many women over 35 are getting the procedure. Anyhow, read Wolfers' post and then think about whether economists should, as a matter of principle, stay out of medical decision-making.