Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution is unimpressed by the paper by Northwestern University's Kripa Freitas on the Indian caste system that I posted about just over a week ago. Here are the key points from his post, Was the Indian caste system efficient?
I have a few points:
1. No way should this paper spend so much time on a formal model.
2. The tests proffered on p.36 are related only tangentially to the paper's main propositions.
3. When it comes to normative issues, the author can do no better than to write: "This should not be interpreted as saying that the case system was free of inefficiencies." And that comes only on p.46. Ha!
4. The paper commits the fallacies of excess functionalism.
5. Virtually any destructive institution which keeps economic transactions on a smaller scale may make contract enforcement "easier" in some regards.
6. This is nonetheless interesting work, and many more people should do research on this and related topics. But in terms of emphasis this paper is way off base.
Also worth reading some of the comments on this post.