Wednesday, May 26, 2010

'ergo propter hoc' in Sweden

One of the classic mistakes people make is assuming that because one thing preceded another, it therefore was the cause (in latin: post hoc ergo propter hoc). In the case of Sweden, it is commonly assumed that low rates of poverty, low inequality, good health and education, and a host of other good things happen because of their welfare policies. This example, however, doesn't even run afoul of this fallacy because the good things were around long before the welfare policies that were supposed to have caused it.
In 1950, before the high-tax welfare state, Swedes lived 2.6 years longer than Americans. Today the difference is 2.7 years. ... A Scandinavian economist once stated to Milton Friedman: "In Scandinavia we have no poverty." Milton Friedman replied, "That's interesting, because in America among Scandinavians, we have no poverty either."
It will surprise no one that Tino assisted in the research the article cites. Hat tip: Newmark's Door

No comments:

Post a Comment