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Super Feminomics

womensearnings.jpgSuper Freakonomics is really two books in one: Some of the chapters are based on a deep data set that reveals interesting insights about the underlying subject. Half of the chapters are not based on any data set at all, and are more of an effort to invent interesting insights about subject matter the authors don't know that well. The chapters of the book that fit the first description are quite good. The chapters of the book that fit the second -- drunk driving, say, or global warming -- are quite bad. It's weird that both coexist alongside each other.

But c'est la Super Freakonomics. The chapter on prostitution -- which is partly a chapter on the male-female wage gap -- is an example of the book's better instincts. It's based on the research of Sudhir Venkatesh (who is to economists as Grand Theft Auto is to video games), but it also contains this factoid:

There is still a considerable economic price to pay for being a woman. For American women twenty-five and older who have at least a bachelor's degree and work full-time, the national median income is about $47,000. Similar men, meanwhile, make more than $65,000. The same is true even for women who attend the nation's elite universities. The economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz found that women who went to Harvard earned less than half as much as the average Harvard man. Even when the analysis included only full-time, full-year employees and controlled for college major, profession, and other variables, Goldin and Katz found that the Harvard women still earned about 30 percent less than their male counterparts.

For a thorough look at this question, download "The Shriver Report," a new book that's leveraging Maria Shriver's star power to generate interest in academic essays exploring the increasing prominence of women in the workforce. It's not very counterintuitive, but then, true things rarely are. It does, however, have a lot of good graphs, like the one atop this post.

By Ezra Klein  |  October 19, 2009; 9:05 AM ET
Categories:  Books , Economics  
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"It's based on the research of Sudhir Venkatesh (who is to economists as Grand Theft Auto is to video games)"

What does this mean??

Posted by: jrockford1 | October 19, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

My guess was that he's an economist that's controversial and gets a lot of attention, but I found that pretty confusing too.

Posted by: MosBen | October 19, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Maybe he popularized sandbox economics...

Posted by: MosBen | October 19, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I took that to mean that Ezra does not believe Grand Theft Auto is a video game, for some reason.

(Sudhir Venkatesh is a sociologist.)

Posted by: chiasmus | October 19, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

This isn't new; Larry Summers said the same thing and was misunderstood. The women - mothers - end up balancing the career & home life. The male contributes, but appears blissfully ignorant. Even if you can afford help at home, I bet the difference continues. Help at home certainly takes a bite out of both members pay -- there's the equality. ssw

Posted by: delrayAlex | October 20, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

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