The Price of Motherhood

by Harry on December 9, 2005

Interesting article by Steve Landsburg in Slate about how to calculate the opportunity costs for future income of becoming a mother. He’s reporting a study by Amalia Miller (pdf), who claims that delaying childbirth for a year in your twenties increases your prospective income by 10%. I was most interested in the method, and am even more interested in hearing what economists have to say about the method and the findings (open invitation). Landsburg on the method:

How does Miller know her findings are reliable? It would never do for her to simply compare the wages of women who gave birth at different ages. A woman who gives birth at 24 might be a different sort of person from a woman who gives birth at 25 and those differences might impact future earnings. Maybe the 24-year-old is less ambitious. Or worse yet (worse from the point of view of sorting out what’s causing what), maybe the 24-year-old started her family sooner precisely because she already saw that her career was going badly.

So, Professor Miller did something very clever. Instead of comparing random 24-year-old mothers with random 25-year-old mothers, she compared 24-year-old mothers with 25-year-old mothers who had miscarried at 24. So, she had two groups of women, all of whom made the same choices regarding pregnancy, but some of whom had their first children delayed by an act of chance.

Lennon and Beatles Covers

by Harry on December 9, 2005

The BBC is obsessed with the anniversary of Lennon’s death. For my own part I have four memories — the shock of Radio 4 (the Today Programme) announcing the death in the morning; the amazing sense of loss at school, mitigated only by the bizarre spectacle of Lennon-look-alike Nick P crying his eyes out all day long; somebody on Question Time saying that everyone would remember where they were when they heard about Lennon’s death, and finally, watching Not the Nine O Clock News that week (Thursday?) and wondering all the way through the show how they would respond to his death — and being first touched, and then shocked, by the way they did it (am I the only person who remembers this?)

Anyway, I’m deliberately posting this the day after the anniversary in order to alert you to 2 wonderful shows full of cover versions:

Mike Harding’s show, with numerous folkies covering songs from Rubber Soul (released 40 years ago this week? Amazing)


Lennon Live with numerous non-folkies covering Lennon songs, with varying degrees of success (My favourite: Teddy Thompson, whom I’d never heard before, and is eerie)

Other Lennon-related radio shows include a portrait narrated by Mark Ratcliffe and a play based on Ray Connolly’s reflections on his death.

Oh, and you can hear Libby Purves reminisce about him, too, but its a bit odd.

Religious groups as ethnic minorities

by Chris Bertram on December 9, 2005

In comments to Daniel’s “post”: about the “Project”, commenter Sean Morris responds to the following remark by Daniel:

bq. Messing around with “Project” conspiracy theories about ethnic minorities is not a harmless hobby.

with the rhetorical question:

bq. Since when was a religion an ethnic minority?

To which the short answer is, in some cases, since forever. This rhetorical move is often made in blog debates by people who want to deny Muslims in European societies the kinds of protections that are afforded to some other groups. But it is a move without merit, since, depending on the social and cultural context, religion, like anything else, can function as the marker that denotes the insider-outsider boundary.

This gives me the excuse — which is the real function of the post — to reproduce a few lines from Howard Becker’s “Tricks of the Trade”: on the definition of ethnic groups:

We would wonder, for instance, how to define the concept of “ethnic group.” How did we know if a group was one of those or not? [Everett C.] Hughes had identified our chronic mistake, in an essay he wrote on ethnic relations in Canada:

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Weltmeisterschaft 2006

by Chris Bertram on December 9, 2005

It is the “draw the World Cup today”: (about 2030 gmt) so there’s an excuse for a soccer thread (like I need an excuse!). A couple of points worth noting:

— The USA is now the most fancied nation outside of Europe and Latin America, with odds of about 89-1 at betfair.

— The African representation is truly surprising: no Nigeria, no Cameroun, no South Africa. Of the African nations, Ivory Coast has the shortest odds (same as the US of A).

So who is going to win the damn thing? England clearly fancy themselves this time and look strong in every area except goalkeeper. The Germans have to stand a good chance on their home turf. France are over the hill. Spain never seem to perform.

I’m going for the *Netherlands* to win for the first time ever and thereby to stick it to “their historic enemies”: on German home turf. And they’re good value too at around 13-1. Whether they’ll still look so good when we see which pool they’re drawn in is another matter.

Income and Consumption Inequality

by John Q on December 9, 2005

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to work out what’s been going on with income and consumption inequality in the United States. Partly that’s because the subject is of interest in itself and partly because social and economic developments in the English-speaking world often (not always) follow the lead of the US.

However, there seem to be lots of contradictions in the data, and between data and popular perceptions, for example regarding social mobility and consumption inequality. I’ve finally managed to sort out what seems (to me, at any rate) to be a coherent account of what’s going on. A list of the main points follows, with supporting links, some of which may require registration/subscription. I’ve tried to indicate which bits of the story reflect my judgements, and which are drawn from the literature.

Comments and criticism on this are most welcome.

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Google users not your average Internet users

by Eszter Hargittai on December 9, 2005

IDG News Service has an article with results from a study conducted by S.G. Cowen and Co. about search-engine use by socio-economic status and Internet experience of users. The findings suggest that Google users are more likely to be from higher income households and be veteran users than those turning to other services for search. Finally some data on this! I have had this hypothesis for several years, but had no data to test it. I am usually frustrated when people make generalizations about Web users based on data about Google users (worse yet, Google users referred to their Web sites through particular searches) and this is precisely why. I did not think Google users (not to mention ones performing particular searches on certain topics) are necessarily representative of the average Internet user. (The report says very little about the methodology of the study so it is hard to know the level of rigor concerning sampling and thus the generalizability of the findings.)

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