Majoring in Economics and Making Money

From Jonah Sinick at Cognito Mentoring: Here is a chart of median earnings (in thousands) for liberal arts majors when starting out (second column) and during their mid-careers (third column).

The post looks specifically at the earnings of economics majors with some interesting insights:

Acquisition of desire to make money

Something that economics majors learn to a greater degree that those who major in other subjects is that income is a proxy to social value generated. Thus, majoring in economics will shift those who want to contribute social value from lower paying careers to higher paying careers.

It’s also been suggested that studying economics increases people’s selfishness on account economic models assuming self-interested agents (see e.g. Economics makes you selfish and Are economists selfish? A lit review). To the extent that this is true, those who would otherwise have chosen work based on the social value generated rather than income may give higher weight to income than to social value contributed when selecting a career. Here too, majoring in economics would shift people from lower paying careers to higher paying careers. The research on studying economics increasing selfishness has been criticized as nonrobust, and may not prove what it’s been purported to — I just raise it as one possibility of many.

I know that quite a few of our readers majored in economics! Did studying economics make you more selfish/increase your desire to earn more?

Photo: Texas A&M


Mad Men, Season 7 Premiere: Is This Where the Fire Starts?

Mad Men is back! I’ll be writing about the show all season. Though we don’t get a glimpse of Sally or Betty in the last night’s season premiere—an episode called “Time Zones” set in January, 1969, in which Don travels to L.A. to see Megan and back—there is plenty to talk about with regard to Megan, Peggy, Margaret, and Joan. Oh, and then there’s the appearance of a woman played by Neve Campbell—where has she been lately?

Also back in the rotation is Freddie Rumsen, the guy who was forced to take a leave of absence from an earlier iteration of Sterling Cooper due to drinking too much. He’s freelancing for Peggy, while Don is now the guy on leave from the ad agency (for two months, at this point) for essentially the same reason Freddie was let go. By the end of the episode we’ll learn that Freddie is actually delivering Don’s work to the agency—Peggy always was a sucker for Don’s messaging, though she doesn’t appear to know it’s his work—but in the beginning we see just the broad face of Rumsen, eyes big and earnest to the camera, pitching Accutron watches. Peggy loves the final line, rejiggers it a bit as her own, and pitches it to her new boss for a slam-dunk. But he doesn’t bite.

And so it becomes clear: Though the end of last season brought Peggy into the spotlight as Don’s heir apparent, it just as quickly pushed her back down again, forcing her to contend with a male boss who doesn’t seem to care about the work. He tells her he guesses he’s just “immune to her charms.” This is new territory for Peggy: Don may not have been in love with her, but he certainly felt a strong creative and also paternal connection to her, and her former boss, Ted Chaough, fell head over heels for his mentee. Peggy’s feeling like just about everyone is immune to her charms these days; when her relationship with Abe ended she was left alone in their apartment, having to deal with tenant issues that he used to handle. In the workplace, even her friendship with Stan seems strained. At the end of the episode, she enters her apartment, falls to the floor, and starts to cry. We’ve all been there. But in Peggy’s lowest moments, she has seemed to possess a kind of dignity and power over her situation, an ability to get through it. Now, it seems like she’s perilously close to breakdown.



Town in Finland Incentivizes The Creation of Future Taxpayers

Ten thousand Euros for every baby. That’s the reward the Finnish town of Lestijärvi promised local parents in 2012 for every new child born. Now, two years on, it seems that the plan, due to last until 2016, has been working well. Too well in fact. Such has been the spike in births that Lestijärvi is now reporting a new problem: it’s run out of family-sized housing.

There is a baby boom in the tiny town of Lestijärvi, Finland (population 850) and with “Turns Out Paying People Thousands of Dollars to Have a Baby Works Pretty Well” Feargus O’Sullivan is on it.

New parents in Lestijärvi (pronounced “give me moneyyyyy”) are cranking ‘em out at 14x the rate they did before the incentive went underway. To be fair, one baby was born there in 2012, and 14 babies were born post-incentive in 2013. Unfortunately you do not get the $10K in a lump sum (*puts condom back on*), rather Lestijärvians receive $1,000/year for the first 10 years of their kid’s life, which, it should be noted, is not all that crazy of a notion in Finland, home to the famous BABY BOX:

The practice of doling out baby cash and gifts – sometimes referred to as haikararahaksi or “stork money” – is actually a nationwide practice that all Finnish parents benefit from in some form. Around 70 municipalities pay €500 or more for each new child born, typically in areas away from the major Finnish cities whose jobs and facilities lure families without financial incentive. Lestijärvi’s closest rival in generosity offers €3,000. Some municipalities give more token gifts instead, such as flowers, books, clocks, apple tree seedlings or – probably the lamest gift in the Finnish stork money arsenal – a city logo to stick on the baby’s bodysuit. All this comes on top of government gifts that provide most of the basic kit new parents need for their babies’ first months.

Photo: photodeus


Rides for a Dollar a Minute

I showed up to my first day as a rickshaw runner wearing soccer shorts and a ratty T-shirt tinted with the mud and blood of my high school rugby career. Alex, the manager, looked me up and down frankly.

“What the fuck are you wearing? Do you want to make any money?”

I came back the next day in low-rise short shorts, cherry red, and a white strappy tank top that left half my sports bra exposed. Now, I was ready to run.

I’d met the rickshaw boys the summer before. I worked in the fast food stand on the corner, sweating over the deep fryer in my company-issued apron and ball cap. They parked their rickshaws across the way, at the mouth of a pedestrian alley in the tourist-filled heart of historic downtown Ottawa. They came by a few times a day to refill their water bottles, flirt and beg for free slushies. We both stayed on our feet until bar close—I fed the drunks and they hauled them home—and once I got my fake ID I started joining them on their Monday nights out, the only night of the week that they took off work.

I don’t remember which of them first suggested that I join them as a runner, but a year later, in my first summer out of high school, I did.

The job was simple. I paid $25 per day to rent my rickshaw; I solicited passersby for rides, and set my own prices; I got paid in cash, and everything I earned after the rent was paid was mine to keep. Generally, we charged a dollar a minute or a dollar a block, whichever came first.



Engineers in the “Power Class”

According to Re/code, a recent survey of 1,000 software developers found the following:

• 69 percent of engineers say their role is “recession-proof.”
• 91 percent say they feel they are the “most valued” employees at their company.
• 56 percent believe they will become millionaires at some point.

Says Barry Crist, the CEO of Chef, a Seattle-based company: “Today, being a software developer, it’s not apologetic. They’re becoming the power class.”

Good for them! Perhaps in the future, writing code will be something everyone learns to do in school (I see it happening!). But no comment on the “power class” thing.

Photo: Erik Hersman


Mayor de Blasio vs. Horse-Drawn Carriage Drivers (And Liam Neeson)

New York City’s mayor has long been pledging that one of the first things he would do upon taking office would be to rid the city of horse-drawn carriages, which has made both the drivers of said carriages and Liam Neeson very upset.

I will admit that when I saw that Liam Neeson had written an op-ed for the Times calling the proposed horse ban a “class issue,” I imagined his argument to be that such a move would unjustly affect rich people who live uptown and ride around in horse-drawn carriages. Then I remembered that that only happens on Sex And The City. So that was my first disappointment of the day, but here is what he actually meant:

A majority of carriage drivers and stable hands are recent immigrants, often raised on farms in their home countries. They love their jobs and their horses, and they take pride in being ambassadors for this great city. I can’t help but see the proposed ban as a class issue: Their livelihoods are now at risk because the animal-rights opponents of the industry are well funded by real-estate interests, which has led to speculation that this powerful lobby wishes to develop the West Side properties occupied by the stables.



Living Situations From Seattle to NYC

Monthly rent from year to year. If every plot point represents an apartment, can you guess at what point I moved to New York?

Capitol Hill, Seattle, Wash., June 2010, $400/mo.
This was a one-month sublet smack dab in the middle of downtown Seattle. I had a month and a half off between graduating college and starting a paid internship in Spokane, and I really, really wanted to live in Seattle. Plus I had booked a performance in Seattle in the middle of the month and no way of getting there without living there. I trolled Craigslist and met two girls who played the violin who had exactly a one-month opening. (My response was something like this: “You both play violin? I used to play violin! And I still have a violin that I lug with me everywhere in spite of having no use for it anymore! Let’s live together and pretend to play violin.”)

The room was in a beautiful studio in a 1924 brick building. I stayed in a “closet,” which was a decent 8×10 room but with no windows. The other girl turned the dining room into her bedroom by putting up dividers. There was still a huge living area between us. There was a decent “free pile” in the laundry room where we scored some great kitchen appliances. Seattle is a great city to score free house stuff and cheap furniture. We bought this amazing purple vintage couch for $40. Sharing a studio with a roommate was a new experience—not something I could do long-term, but it was great for one month!



Other People’s Offices

Via The Paris Review: Paul Barbera’s “Where They Create” provides photos of “studios and work spaces of artists and writers” and he recently photographed The Paris Review offices (example above).

I am the kind of person who likes looking at the interiors of other people’s apartments (usually via the Times real estate section), but looking at all these work spaces is fascinating as well.


The 35-hour Work Week

How much of a difference would it make for you if your workweek was cut to 35 hours? Jared Keller writes in Pacific Standard that the city of Gothenburg, Sweden has proposed to conduct a year-long experiment in which “the municipal council will separate employees into two different groups at the same pay rate, with a test group working six-hour days and a control group working the traditional eight.” According to the city’s deputy mayor, the hope is that workers will feel mentally and physically better and take fewer sick days, while becoming more efficient.

Keller points out that another country that tried our a 35-hour work week—France—didn’t succeed in lowering unemployment or improve the mental well-being of its workers.

One reason for this could be our collective rat race mentality: READ MORE


Frugal Travel Moves That Backfired On Me

Sometimes the quest to save a few bucks only serves to bite you in the ass. If there’s one thing that living out of a backpack for six months taught me, it’s the importance of making smart financial decisions, often on the fly. Here are three instances in which scrimping ended up costing us…


Sleeper buses

Hop on board. Go to sleep in one city. Wake up in another. Save on a night’s accommodation in the process. Brilliant, right?

In theory, sure. But while you might save a few dollars by bedding down on a sleeper bus, the odds of actually getting enough shuteye is pretty low. You may well end up eating into valuable time later catching up on sleep.



A Call To Abolish Employment Credit Checks

Back in the day when my credit was very, very bad and I didn’t have any real sense of urgency about doing something about it, per se, my mom would try to put the fear of god in me by saying that when I applied for jobs, prospective employers could looking up my credit and, seeing how irresponsible I was, decide not to hire me. This seemed (and seems!) both totally unfair and hardly believable.

According to a recent survey-based study from public policy org Demos (h/t Astra Taylor), employment credit checks are actually fairly common: 1 in 4 of unemployed people who were surveyed reported having their credit checked as part of a job application. Among the unemployed with ‘blemished’ credit histories, 1 in 7 has been informed they missed out on a job because of their credit.

Employment credit checks are legal under federal law. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) permits employers to request credit reports on job applicants and existing employees.4 Under the statute, employers must first obtain written permission from the individual whose credit report they seek to review. Employers are also required to notify individuals before they take “adverse action” (in this case, failing to hire, promote or retain an employee) based in whole or in part on any information in the credit report. The employer is required to offer a copy of the credit report and a written summary of the consumer’s rights along with this notification. After providing job applicants with a short period of time (typically three to five business days) to identify and begin disputing any errors in their credit report, employers may then take action based on the report and must once again notify the job applicant.

I’ve never been informed that a prospective employer was going to run a credit check on me (MIKE DANG???), so I suppose that means it hasn’t happened. READ MORE


How To Ditch Your Job And Flee The Country

People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, producer and editor Mike Byhoff tells us more about what it’s like to leave your job, get on a plane headed for a country you know nothing about, and then spend a month abroad without an agenda or being able to speak the language.

Mike! We spoke at the end of February after you frightened everyone with that tweet, and we decided to hold off on a Tell Us More until you got back. Now that you’ve returned home, let’s begin with this: So what happened here?

To get to me hyperventilating on a plane as it landed in Guatemala City, I should probably start from the beginning, which is the wonderful world of unemployment. I took a job as an editorial director of a video start-up in March of 2013. It seemed like the “right move” for my career, as it was part of a well-known company in the tech scene, the guy who started the company is one of the most brilliant people I have ever worked for, I got equity, and I could frame the editorial direction the way I wanted to.

Cut to 12 months later, and we’ve barely acquired users, we’ve pivoted three times, my job responsibilities shifted DRAMATICALLY, and we were going to partner with another company for content. I was sat down and given the option to take a scaled-back role or severance. Without much thought, I took the severance. READ MORE