I like to think of myself as an individual who makes up his own mind, but that's almost certainly wrong for me, and you, gentle reader, as well. A vast literature in psychology points out that, in effect, a number of separate personalities live in each of our brains. Which decision gets made at a certain time is determined in part by how issues of reward and risk are framed and communicated to us. Moreover, we are members of groups. If my wife or one of my children is in a serious dispute, I will lose some degree of my sunny disposition and rational fair-mindedness. Probably I won't lose all of it. Maybe I'll lose less of it than a typical person in a similar situation. But I'll lose some of it.
Douglas Clement has published an "Interview with Anne Case," subtitled "Princeton economist on the cost of AIDS in South Africa, 'deaths of despair' in the U.S. and women in economics," in The Region (from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, December 12, 2017).
Throughout my lifetime, China has been the most populous country in the world. But India has nearly caught up, and should overtake China in the next couple of years.
There's a sort of parlor game that the economically-minded sometimes play around the Christmas holiday, related to A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.
The other day I found myself, as one does, reading speeches given 50 years ago by Edward Levi, who was then the president of the University of Chicago. Here are some thoughts from "The University and the Modern Condition," which was delivered to the University of Chicago Citizen's Board on November 16, 1967, and reprinted in his 1969 collection Point of View: Talks on Education (magically available via Google Books). It is both comforting and disheartening that many of his comments could be delivered essentially unchanged by a speaker a half-century later.
Making predictions is hard, especially about the future. It's a comment that seems to have been attributed to everyone from Nostradamus to Niels Bohr to Yogi Berra. But it's deeply true. Most of us have a tendency to make statements about the future with a high level of self-belief, avoid later reconsidering how wrong we were, and then make more statements.
One can make a reasonable argument that the concept of an economy and the study of economics begins with the idea of specialization, in the sense that those who function within an economy specialize in one kind of production, but then trade with others to consume a broader array of good.