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Luck or Skill? An Examination of the Ehrlich - Simon Bet

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Author Info

  • Katherine A. Kiel

    ()
    (Department of Economics, College of the Holy Cross)

  • Victor Matheson

    ()
    (Department of Economics, College of the Holy Cross)

  • Kevin Golembiewski

    (Department of Economics, College of the Holy Cross)

Abstract

In 1980, Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon placed a famous bet on whether the prices of a bundle of natural resources would rise or fall over the ensuing decade. Simon won the bet as the real price of the bundle fell significantly, and the result of this bet has been taken as proof that technological progress is likely overcome any Neo-Malthusian concerns about natural resource scarcity. Contrary to the popular perception, however, an examination of the price history of the identical bundle of goods from 1900-2007 shows that Ehrlich and not Simon would have won a majority of the bets over the past century and would have done so by a wide margin.

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File URL: http://college.holycross.edu/RePEc/hcx/Kiel-Matheson_EhrlichSimon.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0908.

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Length: 5 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hcx:wpaper:0908

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Keywords: Natural resources; scarcity; Neo-Malthusian;

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References

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  1. M. H. Khalil Timamy, 2005. "Debate," Review of African Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(104-105), pages 383-393, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Stan Becker, 2013. "Has the World Really Survived the Population Bomb? (Commentary on “How the World Survived the Population Bomb: Lessons From 50 Years of Extraordinary Demographic History”)," Demography, Springer, vol. 50(6), pages 2173-2181, December.
  2. Lawn, Philip, 2010. "On the Ehrlich-Simon bet: Both were unskilled and Simon was lucky," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(11), pages 2045-2046, September.

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