Monday, May 13, 2013

Children + Taxes Implies Chaos

Yes, really. And this new paper (which is called Child Allowances, Fertility, and Chaotic Dynamics) claims to prove this in a model using rigorous mathematics. Obviously, this depends on how much one believes the model. The paper is written in a rather abstract manner, so clearly I am skeptical.

There are some "awesome" things in the article, however. For one thing, I am not sure how chaotic dynamics is important to the problem at hand (as opposed to just in the model the authors happen to study), but chaos is genuinely important in other applications, so who knows? Another big "win" is the use of the term "allowance". What the authors have in mind is the number of children that one is allowed to have, but the other (unintended) interpretation of parents giving a child an "allowance" with which to buy things is what truly makes this a thing of beauty. I didn't look carefully enough at the mathematics itself, so I have no opinion on that. Rather, I am viewing this through my mathematical modelling lens, and I think it is "awesome" from that perspective. And the article title is truly a thing of beauty!

This is the type of article that makes me both laugh and cry --- and I think that there might be an Ig Nobel Prize in store for the authors of this paper.

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