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Posts Tagged ‘labor’

Labor Market Arbitrage

The Economist explains how discrimination in the labor market can be reduced by competition in product markets. As in the U.S., Korean women obtain at least the same education as men; but their rates of labor-force participation are much further below those of men than is true in the U.S., and that’s even true for highly educated women. This provides room for companies to hire equally or more qualified women at the same or even lower wages than men.

Betsey Stevenson Answers Your Questions

We recently solicited your questions for Betsey Stevenson, a sometimes Freakonomics contributor and newly minted Chief Economist of the Department of Labor. Your questions were excellent and varied, and Betsey’s responses cover everything from persistent unemployment to parental leave. Thanks to Betsey and everyone who participated.

Congratulations Fran Blau!

Fran Blau is one of my favorite labor economists in the world: She’s smart, savvy, tackles important problems, and also incredibly generous in helping younger scholars and colleagues with their own research. She is now also the winner of this year’s IZA Prize in Labor Economics.

When a Changing Labor Market Changes Business

There are innumerable great examples of goods in related markets. And of complements and substitutes. (One of my favorites is the local store that sold rock music and condoms, clearly complements.) It’s harder to cook up neat examples of goods markets that are impinged upon by labor-market changes.

Technology and Trade

Are imports from low-wage countries driving technology advancements in the U.S.?

Farewell, George Johnson

Economist George Johnson passed away this week, at age 70. He and his work are remembered fondly.

Sticking to What I'm Good At

My wife and I did two hours of volunteer work on Maui, trying to remove sea grape, an invasive species. Twelve people in total had to divide the tasks of using large shears, raking brush, and hauling away all the cuttings.

My Grandfather Before Computers

My siblings, cousins, and I were talking about our paternal grandfather recently. He was very bright, but uneducated (immigrated to the U.S. at age 10). He worked in the garment industry, his best job being as a cutter — figuring out how to waste the least amount of cloth in creating a garment.

It Takes a Free Market to Build a Toaster

It takes a lot of people to manufacture even the simplest products, so making a household appliance on your own shouldn’t be expected to be easy. It may even be impossible. That’s what the artist Thomas Thwaites is finding as he tries to make a toaster from scratch, traveling around the world to collect raw materials and refining his own petroleum for plastic moldings.

Ask a Construction Worker: A Freakonomics Quorum

Safety is an all-too-familiar issue in the construction industry — workers in Las Vegas are striking over it; in April, New York’s building commissioner resigned in light of more than 26 construction worker deaths in the city this year. As for the two recent crane collapses in New York, Patrick Crean, a construction worker at the Freedom Tower site, suspects . . .

Robert Reich Answers Your Labor Questions

Robert Reich We recently solicited your questions for former labor secretary Robert Reich. He met your questions with earnest, interesting answers and some good advice — like how to avoid being outsourced. He also opined that there are too many M.B.A.’s running around, and that “they are killing the economy!” You might also like this line: “Democrats aren’t disciplined at . . .

N.F.L. vs. M.L.B. as a Labor Market: A Freakonomics Quorum

It’s a widely held perception that the professional athletes who constitute Major League Baseball and the National Football League have different levels of power — i.e., players have more juice in M.L.B., while it’s a team’s ownership that has more power in the N.F.L., often at the expense of individual players. Is this true? We put this question to a . . .

Freakonomics in the Times Magazine: Laid-Back Labor

In their May 6, 2007, column for the New York Times Magazine, Dubner and Levitt wonder: Why do Americans spend so much time and money performing menial tasks when they don’t have to? What’s with all the knitting, gardening, and – as the Census Bureau dubs it – “cooking for fun”? Why do we fill our hours with leisure activities that look an awful lot like work? Click here to read the article and here to comment. This blog post supplies additional research material.

More End-of-Year Stuff

Now we learn that iTunes has named Freakonomics its Editors’ Pick for 2005. Very nice. That and $2.00 will get you a subway ride — unless, of course, NYC transit workers really do go on strike on Friday, as they are threatening, in which case $2.00 will get you one cup of strong Starbucks coffee to fortify you for a . . .

Caution: We Know What You Are Thinking

We have twice blogged — here and here — about Moodgrapher, a mood-tracking site built by Gilad Mishne at the University of Amsterdam. It tracks the blog entries of Live Journal users and aggregates their mood indicators to see how a given event (a terrorist act, a natural disaster, an election) influences societal mood. Levitt proposed that corporations might employ . . .

A way for CEOs to put their finger on the pulse of their company?

A while back, Dubner blogged about this website, which tracks moods of the populace. It has some updated information on how Hurricane Katrina made people feel. Wouldn’t it make sense for companies to build something like this into their internal networks? It would allow top managers to have up-to-the-minute information on the state of the employees’ mindset. Done anonymously, people . . .

More stories about Sophie and Chinese labor

I wasn’t trying to be pejorative in my last post when I said that in China/Hong Kong there are five people doing the job one American would typically do. I didn’t mean that the five Chinese workers necessarily did no better than the one American worker, it was more a statement about how workers are allocated. At our hotel in . . .

On the topic of epidemics, a story about SARS

At the Hong Kong airport, you are required to pass through an area that uses some sort of technology to detect body temperature. If you have a very high fever, they pounce on you and presumably quarantine you because of fear of SARS. I adopted my daughter Sophie from China. She had two defining traits when we first adopted her. . . .