The Fall of Men in the Workplace

Conservatives have long argued that society should encourage stable parental relationships. A recent report by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia concluded that promoting marriage is the best way “to make family life more stable for children whose parents don’t enjoy the benefit of a college education.”

Liberals have tended to argue that the government should focus instead on improving economic opportunities. Jonathan Cowan, the president of Third Way, said the paper underscored that addressing social problems was a means to improve economic opportunities.

“If Democrats have as their goal being the party of the middle class, they have to come to the realization that they’re not going to be able to get there solely through their standard explanations,” said Mr. Cowan, a veteran of the Clinton administration. “We need to ask, ‘How can we get these fathers back involved in their children’s lives?’ ”

That is from a NY Times article (HT: Marginal Revolution) that reviews the evidence on a troubling trend: “The fall of men in the workplace is widely regarded by economists as one of the nation’s most important and puzzling trends.” The article also notes that single mothers are particularly bad at churning out successful men. This in turn makes men less attractive (read: less desirable) and women are therefore more likely to choose a path of single motherdom.

However, as I have written about before, it is a canard to suggest that traditional marriage or that getting “fathers back involved in their children’s lives” is the solution. As I see it, the available evidence shows that stable and nurturing family lives are more important than tradition. This may involve a boy adopted into a stable same-sex relationship, a single mother with a long-term stable boyfriend, or a single mother getting ongoing help from an uncle, cousin, or grandparents. In short, boys, especially at a young age, need long-term, intimate  modeled behavior, which can come from a variety of sources. What are your thoughts?


What is it like to work at Google?

Tyler Cowen on economists. Here is the best bit (IMO):

IN any case, there is an overriding moral issue. Imagine that it is your professional duty to report a cost-benefit analysis of liberalizing immigration policy. You wouldn’t dream of producing a study that counted “men only” or “whites only,” at least not without specific, clearly stated reasons for dividing the data.

So why report cost-benefit results only for United States citizens or residents, as is sometimes done in analyses of both international trade and migration? The nation-state is a good practical institution, but it does not provide the final moral delineation of which people count and which do not. So commentators on trade and immigration should stress the cosmopolitan perspective, knowing that the practical imperatives of the nation-state will not be underrepresented in the ensuing debate.

And Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry weighs in.

Where should special needs kids be special?

What does it take to be an NCAA refere?

What is Real in Silicon Valley?

iPoo, a social-networking app that connects people sitting on toilets, sounds like a joke, but it exists. More than 200,000 people have paid $1 apiece to download iPoo since it launched two years ago, say the app’s creators, enough to help put one of them through Harvard Business School. And tens of thousands use it every day, they say.

There is much more here. Including a description of, which promises to help you find the perfect way to pitch your new internet business. The site offers a refreshable description of business pitches that are so crazy they just might be real. Among the more humorous ones I saw was this (funnier if you are an avid user of OpenTable):

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A $22-per-hour Minimum Wage?

Yesterday, during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Elizabeth Warren cited a study that found the minimum wage would be $22 today if it had kept up with productivity. I’m not sure what the implication of this is suppose to be. I see it as a sort of a non-point; since the late 1970’s wages in general have deviated from gains in productivity, a phenomenon that has been much studied in economics. Indeed, if wages had kept up with productivity there would be no need for a $22-per-hour wage floor since businesses would willing pay that wage to employees anyway. However, also note that productivity is not evenly distributed among the workforce. One reason (the only reason?) lower-skilled workers are paid less is precisely because they are less productive.

Maybe I’m confused, but I don’t see the underlying economic purpose to this hearing. Political purpose? Sure. Democrats want to suggest that the minimum wage is way too low, perhaps way to low. But economic purpose? No. I suspect even the most liberal labor economist would predict huge negative distortions to the labor market and a large spike in unemployment of unskilled workers if a $22 wage floor were instituted. As for the political message, I suspect it is something along the lines of:

“The minimum wage should be $22. But the current minimum wage is just one-third (!!) of this natural rate. We all know the Republicans will never allow legislation to pass that restores the minimum wage to this level, and at any rate perhaps such an increase is drastic. But surely we can all agree on the sensible step of raising the minimum wage of hard working Americans by a modest $2 an hour.”




When Google Reader dies and you, and you alone, are the man behind one of the most popular replacements

A better way to conference call. Seems promising, though it will likely take the large corporations, which need it most, many years to adopt something similar. When I worked for Boeing conference calls were a nightmare.

This blog looks very promising. I learned about it from another blog I came across, which I in turn learned via this one, a blog I have been following for some time.

Google Reader is shutting down. I am now using NewsBlur, which is much better than Reader. Feedly also seemed promising, but seemed to stall as I used it, perhaps because of vastly increased traffic. Feedly is pretty, but I think I will stick with NewsBlur for now.

A new personal assistant service. I may try it.