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Posts from the ‘Economics’ Category

Triage Stafford Loans

Guest post by Saad Asad

It’s an odd world where politicians are pandering to a group who are generally well-off and rarely vote. Yes, I’m talking about college students. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama agree that the rate for subsidized Stafford loans should be kept at 3.4% for at least the coming year. Congress even agrees but differ on how to offset the costs (age old fight over spending cuts or tax increases). But college graduates don’t need this extra subsidy, it would be better of funding Pell Grants which are at constant risk.

Before we grow too attached to this entitlement, let’s remember this rate cut literally only came in to existence this year. The rates have gradually come down since the Democrats passed a bill in 2007 to lower them. The CBO, however, estimates that extending them for another year will cost about $6 billion and $45 billion to extend it for ten years.

These loan rates are not retroactive so only those applying in July will be affected by the lapse of this law which would be about 7 million borrowers. Pundits on the left argue this rate hike would be an excessive burden for college graduates, but the fight is over less than $10 a month. Candice Choi of BusinessWeek writes:

“But in general, the White House says keeping the rate at 3.4 percent for another year would save borrowers $1,000 over the life of the loan. That’s assuming a 12-year repayment on a $4,200 loan.

On a monthly basis, a typical payment would go up by about $8, according to FinAid.org”

Critics will argue that as college tuition increases it only makes sense that government assistance also increase. Indeed college tuition has tripled in the past 30 years, but so has the earnings gap between high school graduates and college graduates. Despite this rise in tuition, college degrees continue to pay off. And if they continue to pay off, why should taxpayers continue to subsidize them? Do Harvard graduates really need federal assistance at a time when food stamps and unemployment benefits are at risk?

College graduates are closer to the 1% than the 99%. Only 30% of Americans have a college degree, and even fewer across the world have this credential. They have more political influence and certainly more earning power. George Will of the Washington Post explains:

“The average annual income of high school graduates with no college is $41,288; for college graduates with just a bachelor’s degree it is $71,552. So the one-year difference ($30,264) is more than the average total indebtedness of the two-thirds of students who borrow ($25,250).

Taxpayers, most of whom are not college graduates (the unemployment rate for high school graduates with no college education: 7.9 percent), will pay $6 billion a year to make it slightly easier for some fortunate students to acquire college degrees (the unemployment rate for college graduates: 4 percent).”

Jason Deslisle of the New America Foundation furthers explains how this rate cut only benefits employed high-income college graduates to begin with:

“Subsidized Stafford loans for undergraduates – the only type eligible for the 3.4 percent interest rate – include a special interest-free benefit. The interest clock on these loans is frozen while a borrower is enrolled in school and for up to three years if a borrower is unemployed or meets the rules for economic hardship. This means that keeping the interest rate on newly-issued Subsidized Stafford loans at 3.4 percent will not affect unemployed borrowers. The interest rate for these borrowers is automatically 0.0 percent.

Borrowers working part-time or in low-paying jobs need not worry about the interest rate on Subsidized Stafford loans (for three years) either if they enroll in the income-based repayment plan. This plan caps a borrower’s monthly payment at a share of his disposable income, regardless of the interest rate on the loans. But the deal is even sweeter for Subsidized Stafford loans. If a borrower’s monthly payment is too low to cover the interest that accrues, the government forgives it – up to three years’ worth.

These protections make the rhetoric about lowering interest rates to help college graduates weather a weak job market ill-informed at best. By definition, the campaign to keep interest rates lower on Subsidized Stafford loans is about keeping rates lower only for those borrowers who are employed and earn enough to be ineligible for the income-based repayment program. It is those fully-employed borrowers who are most able to swing the extra $9 a month (at most) that another year of loans offered at a 3.4 percent interest rate would otherwise save them.

Targeting a precious $6 billion right now to borrowers who have jobs and incomes high enough to cover the higher rate seems out of touch, especially when the Pell Grant program needs approximately that much next year to stave off a massive cut to the aid it provides.”

In fact, the Pell Grant was cut by $8 billion last year and another $2 billion this year. Pell Grants increase accessibility while students are in college and directly help low-income families (the threshold is a meager $23000). Simple prioritization tells us to save the grants before we even bother with these loans.

Privilege and Statistics

By Taylor Marvin

Author John Scalzi has a fantastic piece explaining straight white male privilege in the language of video games:

Okay: In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is.
This means that the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it’s easier to get.

“Okay: In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is.

This means that the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it’s easier to get.”

Scalzi’s piece was later reposted at Kontaku. While Scalzi heavily moderates his site Kontaku does not, and many commenters were angry: lots of talk about “reverse racism” and domineering feminism. What stands our are the straight white male commenters who felt personally insulted or attacked by Scalzi’s talk of privilege.

What’s most interesting here is that these commenters seem to not understand the idea of an average. The concept of privilege observes that a randomly selected straight white male is likely to experience less social barriers than a randomly selected non-SWM. This doesn’t imply that your life is not difficult, or that you face no barriers; only that on average, the barriers facing a SWM are lower than for other groups. An average means that half of each group will fall on each side of the mean. Just because an individual SWM commenter faces barriers and perceived — or real — oppression, or can name a successful non-SWM, doesn’t repudiate the concept of privilege.

It’s often observed how poor Americans comprehension of statistics are, and how much more important statistics are to understanding real life political, economic and social issues than more commonly taught subjects like calculus or trigonometry. Obviously the angry reactions to Scalzi’s metaphor are partially emotional, and not just driven by a poor understanding of means and outliers. But it is a good example of how important this understanding is.

Torturing Enemies, Not People

By Taylor Marvin

Yes, this is another one of those posts.

Alyssa Rosenberg discusses the depiction of torture in last Sunday’s episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones:

“Joffrey and Harrenhal’s interrogators are torturing people not out of fits of temper, and not because they think there’s information for them to get out of the people they’re targeting. Joffrey doesn’t have questions that he wants to ask Ros and Daisy. The Harrenhal interrogators ask the same set of questions to every person they talk to, no matter where that person comes from or their likelihood of knowing any relevant information. These people are torturing their victims because they enjoy doing so. These scenes are all about giving us information about the torturers, to draw a line between the characters who behave like human beings and those who exist and act beyond the laws that govern the rest of us.”

I’m not sure if I agree with this characterization. In the book A Clash of Kings, the source material for Game of Thrones season two, the Tickler — the torturer nicknamed by nine year old narrator Arya Stark for how he ‘tickles’ his victims — is depicted as a sociopath who enjoys his work. As I perceived it, Sunday’s show went a different direction with the scene. Here the Tickler’s only half interested in his victims; as Rosenberg notes, he asks all captives the same questions even if it’s obvious they don’t know the answers, and he’s just as focused on eating his pear as their screams. Torturing is just a job, and’s as routine as any job can be. The Tickler and the other Lannister soldiers don’t have enough of an emotional investment in their victims to really be said to “enjoy” torturing them, because they don’t see Gendry and the other smallfolk they murder as people at all.

16th century depiction of torture. Via Wikimedia.

16th century depiction of torture. Via Wikimedia.

The binary mindset of us vs. them is a necessity of medieval warfare. By the late pre-gunpowder period fortification technology had advanced to their point that capturing a defended castle required a long siege often more expensive to mount than it was worth. With frequent sieges prohibitively costly, wide scale devastation of the undefended countryside was an effective tool to coerce a fortified opponent into battle or, preferably, capitulation. Contrary to romanticized perception of medieval warfare as knightly combat, atrocities against the peasant populations were widespread, and when garrisons that declined to surrender were captured they were slaughtered to disincentivize future costly resistance. This type of normalized brutality requires viewing the target population as less than human. Game of Thrones doesn’t draw the line between characters who behave like human beings and sociopaths — casual brutality is unquestioned by nearly everyone, and that what makes it so harrowing.

Link to video via Sullivan.

Interracial Couples Earn More

By Taylor Marvin

Via Catherine Rampell, a new report by the Pew Research Center shows that Asian-American grooms and white brides are the highest earning marital parings in America:

White husbands and Asian-America wives make slightly less, but are still the second highest paring. Interesting, right?

I’d take the wider significance of this finding with a grain of salt. It’s likely that Asian-white/white-Asian parings are proxying for education. Students at elite American universities are disproportionately white and Asian; it’s likely that many white-Asian couples met at highly-ranked colleges, increasing their chances of achieving high incomes later in life. Pew data supports this conclusion:

Asian-Asian couples are more likely to both be college-educated than Asian-white couples, but the difference is small. What’s more interesting is the disparity between Asian-white and white-Asian couples. It’s possible that this explains interracial couples with an Asian husband’s higher incomes: couples where the husband is Asian and the wife white tend to be higher educated, perhaps accounting for Asian-white couples’ slightly higher incomes. This suggests that Asian-white couples are more likely to have met in college than white-Asian parings, possibly because highly-educated women are less likely to marry a less-educated partner.

Italian Women in the Workplace

By Taylor Marvin

Recently Matt Yglesias posted this interesting graph illustrating Italian women’s low workforce participation rate:

Wow. Italy’s women employment-population ratio is much lower than Sweden or the US’s, and has grown at a historically much lower rate. Yglesias makes the good point that Italian women are working, but are overwhelmingly laboring in the home where their labor isn’t taxed. Obviously, this has a significant negative impact on Italy’s high public debt.

Italy’s economic problems aren’t solely due to its low female workforce-participation rate (Daniel Gros recently convincingly argued that governance failure bears the brunt of the blame). However, it’s reasonable to suspect that chronically underutilizing half of the available labor force has had negative consequences for Italian growth, which has stagnated for the last two decades:

This reminded me of a 1965 Playboy interview with Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni I recently stumbled upon, which anecdotally explores Italian women’s role in the workplace in the most misogynistic way imaginable:

MASTROIANNI: Because women are changing into men, and men are becoming women. At least, men are getting weaker all the time. But much of this is man’s own fault. We shouted, “Women are equal to men; long live the Constitution!” But look what happened. The working woman emerged—angry, aggressive, uncertain of her femininity. And she multiplied—almost by herself. Matriarchy, in the home and in the factory and in business, has made women into sexless monsters and piled them up on psychiatric couches. Instead of finding themselves, they lost what they had. But some see this now and are trying to change back. Women in England, for example, who were the first to raise the standard of equality, are today in retreat.

PLAYBOY: How about American women?

MASTROIANNI: They should retreat, but they don’t. I’ve never seen so many unhappy, melancholy women. They have liberty—but they are desperate. Poor darlings, they’re so hungry for romance that two little words in their ears are enough to crumble them before your eyes. American women are beautiful, but a little cold and too perfect—too well brought up, with the perfume and the hair always just so and the rose-colored skin. What perfection—and what a bore!

PLAYBOY: Are Italian women different?

MASTROIANNI: Thank God, yes.

PLAYBOY: How is she different from American women?

MASTROIANNI: She’s not afraid to be a woman—not yet, anyway. But what happened to women in America is beginning to take place in Italy, too, and I don’t like it. I don’t feel tenderness toward this new kind of women. I wouldn’t even want to have children by them. I want women to have all the faults and weaknesses they always had. I adore them, but we must keep them in their place. It’s presumptuous for a woman to show me she is a doctor of mathematics. Comptometers can do that. What’s more subtle and difficult is to know how to make a man feel important.

PLAYBOY: You don’t think women have the right to a career, to compete with men in the professional world?

MASTROIANNI: Of course, they must evolve—but not away from being women. At the same time, I admit we have to do something with them besides give them babies. In Italy, women now have fewer children and do less housework than ever. This makes them bored and a terrible weight on men. Now, I like to have a woman hang on—but not to suffocate me. So today she needs some kind of occupation, and it’s right for her to want to be on man’s level. My logic admits this—but my instincts tell me to watch out.

I’m not saying that we should read to much into this — obviously Mastroianni is only one man, and he doesn’t speak for all of Italian society. But Mastroianni’s views are a product of his time, and his opinions do tell us quite a lot about mainstream Italian social views of women in the workplace in 1965. If one of the leading stars of Italian cinema was comfortable describing American women — who by the mid-1960s were increasingly entering the workforce — as “afraid to be a woman”, these views are evidence of much stronger social barriers to female workforce participation in Italian society than in the US as late as the 1960s. A popular masculine narrative of working women as “not real women” and “angry, aggressive, uncertain of her femininity” is a powerful barrier to female workforce entry, and one that’s likely endured in Italian popular culture on some level.

Again, this is only an anecdote. But it is an interesting one.

Good Design Is Good Business

By Taylor Marvin

At Wired, Clive Thompson points out that today’s web-savvy students aren’t actually that good at separating out reliable sources of information on the internet:

“High school and college students may be “digital natives,” but they’re wretched at searching. In a recent experiment at Northwestern, when 102 undergraduates were asked to do some research online, none went to the trouble of checking the authors’ credentials. In 1955, we wondered why Johnny can’t read. Today the question is, why can’t Johnny search?”

Thompson goes on to argue that schools should teach good searching techniques, which makes sense. Roughly 80% of the academic research I did in high school was online. In high school I probably relied on the internet more than in college, because at UCSD I’m lucky enough to have access to a much larger library than I did at Salinas High School. Despite this, I can’t remember receiving any formal instruction in search beyond “Google works well” before coming to college. While the emergence of Wikipedia has made academic search simpler for students — instead of using Google, today many students will just go to a given subject’s Wikipedia article’s references, which are mostly pre-vetted — search-illiteracy is still a huge issue. Wikipedia is nowhere near comprehensive, and the sources it references are often biased or incomplete. Even internet-literate students often have no idea how to search or even understand peer-reviewed papers, and students from a low-income background are at a huge disadvantage to students who grew up with a computer in the home. The ability to understand what makes a source reliable has a much greater impact on students’ future success than the library skills currently taught, and schools should begin teaching search skills at the elementary school level. It’s that important.

I think that widespread search illiteracy says something interesting about the importance of web design. If a large portion of undergraduates can’t use content to decide whether a source is reliable, they must use other signals to determine reliability. In my own experience, site design often serves as a substitute signal. This makes sense: if a site looks professional, its content must also be reliable. Media websites — whether magazines, blogs, or commercial sites — are more likely to be trusted if their design fits the market’s ideas of what’s modern and professional. Of course, site design doesn’t actually tell us anything about trustworthiness, but this bias towards good design is understandable if many undergraduates don’t have to skills to determine if a site’s content is trustworthy. Given that current undergraduates are one of the most web-savvy populations out there, other groups rely on design as a reliability-cue even more. If consumers are more likely to frequent online media sources they deem trustworthy, good design is vital to growing a media organization’s market presence. Sites that look cluttered or antiquated aren’t just losing customers because they’re not user friendly, but because they’re more likely to be wrongly judged as unreliable by users with poor search skills, however unfairly.

“The Importance and Role of Women in Development: A Panel Discussion” – Live Blog

Women vote in South Sudan’s referendum on independence. 09/01/2011. UN Photo by Albert Gonzalez Farran.

Women vote in South Sudan’s referendum on independence. 09/01/2011. UN Photo by Albert Gonzalez Farran.

Welcome to the live blog of tonight’s Prospect event, “The Importance and Role of Women in Development: A Panel Discussion“, which is being co-hosted by the Model UN at UCSD. Together with Prospect Editor-in-Chief Megan Magee, I’ll be relaying tonight’s discussion. I hope you enjoy.

Our panelists:

  • Prashant Bharadwaj is a professor of economics at UCSD. Professor Bharadwaj received his Ph.D. from Yale University, and focuses on labor and developmental economics. He has written extensively on the economic effects of the partition of British India.
  • Nancy Gilson is the Director of Academic Degree Programs at UCSD’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. Dr. Gilson received her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, and at UCSD, Dr. Gilson has taught courses on immigration, the politics of race and ethnicity, civil liberties and civil rights law, and social policy and gender. In addition to her academic work, Dr. Gilson has worked in the UCSD and IR/PS administrations.
  • Jay Silverman is is a Professor in the Division of Global Public Health, Department of Medicine, at the UCSD School of Medicine. Dr. Silverman’s academic work focuses on the public health consequences of gender-based violence against adolescent and adult women, and he has advised the WHO, UNAIDS, and UNDP.

Dr. Bharadwaj starts off with a presentation, “Growing Pains – Health and Education Challenges Faced by Young Women in India”. Professor Bharadwaj begins by explaining that health and education are important for economic growth, and are extremely important inputs in determining whether countries grow wealthier or remain in poverty traps. Because women comprise half of the population in most countries, their welfare is an extremely important aspect of development. However, women in developing countries face incredible challenges in access to health and education.

Dr. Bharadwaj begins by exploring gender discrimination in prenatal care in India, which is a relatively under explored channel of sex discrimination. Because of the widespread availability of ultrasound technology in modern India, even poor families can often determine the gender of their child early in pregnancy. Early life health is important for later life success, making prenatal gender discrimination detrimental to future human capital. Even if sex selective abortion — the most extreme form of prenatal gender discrimination — can be prevented, more mild differential levels of prenatal care can still have long term impacts on gender equity. Mothers in India are 1.1 percentage points more likely to visit antenatal clinics when pregnant with a boy, and in northern India mothers are 4.6 percent more likely to visit antenatal clinics when pregnant with a boy, and are 3% more likely to receive tetanus shots. Even more severely, they are 16% more likely to deliver in a non-home environment. This same discrimination appears in China, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Even in the womb, female babies are discriminated against. This tendency towards gender-differentiated levels of prenatal care become more extreme for mothers that have already had two or three girls. Women with existing female children devote enormous effort to ensuring the health of a male fetus, while often neglecting female fetuses.

Indian law actually forbids telling expecting parents the sex of a fetus, but these laws are often flagrantly violated. There aren’t credible alternative explanations for these findings. Male fetuses do not medically require higher levels of care, nor is there any evidence of a recollection bias by Indian parents that would prompt them to recall providing more prenatal care for male children, even if they actually did not.

Dr. Bharadwaj continues by outlining his work examining educational challenges for females in India and Bangladesh. Many female students are thought to drop out of school early due to early marriages. While India and Bangladesh’s female school enrollment in quite high, years of schooling actually attained by women is low. Because the average age of marriage is 17, early marriage is a likely candidate to explain low educational attainment. Evidence from India and Bangladesh suggest that girls get married soon after puberty. Girls that reach puberty earlier tend to drop out earlier, hinting that the marriage channel plays a role in low education attainment. What can policymakers do to correct this? Raising the legal age of marriage seems like a reasonable policy prescription. However, only 35% of Indian women are report knowing the minimum age of marriage when polled, suggesting that legal marriage ages play little role in actual marriage practices, and raising the actual age Indian and Bangladeshi women marry will likely be challenging.

Next up in Dr. Nancy Gilson, with “What Does it Mean to Be “Equal” In a Diverse World: Defining Gender”. Analytically, it is widely accepted that gender equality is a universal good, but what it means to talk about equality in one setting isn’t necessarily applicable in another setting. Issues of gender equality are of paramount importance to human welfare. The World Bank, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, World Health Organization and investment bank Goldman Sachs have all argued that gender inequality hurts economic growth. CEDAW, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, was adopted by the UN in 1979, though it was not ultimately ratified by the United States.

CEDAW is emblematic of the first form of assault on discrimination against women through legal channels. But this isn’t sufficient — inequality should be seen as a collection of disparate and interlinked problems that sometimes work against each other: that is, fixing something in one area can lead to a problem in another realm. Divorce law in the US is a key example of this complexity. Despite efforts to create more equitable US divorce law, women remain more likely to fall into or remain in poverty after divorce, and still bear the majority of child care burdens. Legal efforts to reverse these disparities have been unsuccessful.

The situation in developing countries is similarly complex. Efforts to increase female education attainment by simply encouraging more girls to attend school are typically unsuccessful, because social biases — often prejudice against menstruation — make it difficult for girls to remain in school.

Today US women are more economically independent and richer than they used to be, but it’s important to note that other women are still paid to take care of the children of working women, ultimately perpetuating the cycle of poverty. Women remain stuck between a “sticky floor and a glass ceiling” — US women remain responsible for 80 percent of child care, while working equally long hours in the board rooms. When developed world women work more and are still expected to do the majority of child rearing they just sleep less — chronic sleep-deprivation is an increasingly severe problem for US women.

Attempt to combat gender inequality must be based on local contexts. This isn’t to say that gender discrimination is ever acceptable — women aren’t a cultural minority, but rather half of the world’s population! Gender can be self-defeating if you view it as simply adding or changing society by means of policy or law. Any argument about rights must be somewhere in the middle of relativism and universalism.

Last up is Dr. Silverman, with “Gender-based Violence against Women and Girls: A Major Barrier to Health”. Between 15 and 76 percent of women ages 15-49 across the globe experience Intimate Partner Violence at some point in their lifetimes. Intimate partner violence (IPV) has a major impact on global health. Women who are abused during pregnancy are much more likely to give birth to preterm or underweight children, and children born into abusive households are more likely to suffer from major morbidities. Women who are abused have much less control over their reproductive health and contraception, and IPV is a major factor in unwanted pregnancy and adolescent pregnancy.

Early marriages are also more likely to be violent. In India half of all girls are married under the age of 18, and 20 percent under the age of 16. Girls married young are more likely to die in childbirth, and are more likely to give birth to children with poor health outcomes.

Women in abusive marriages are at greater risk of STIs and HIV. Part of the abusive mindset includes the mentality that it is permissible to take risks with extramarital relations and abuse children. Abusive men’s tendency to attempt to control women violently extends to sexual control, and abusive men are more likely to practice unsafe sex. While India is not considered a high prevalence country for HIV, and enormous number of Indians — 2.5 million people — are infected with the virus. Heterosexual sex is the dominant transmission route, and married women comprise a larger and larger percentage of cases. Men’s sexual behavior is implicated in spousal transmission, and men who violent towards their partners are much more likely to engage in sexual activity outside of their marriages.

What can we do to reduce this risk? Community-based education program can be effective at reducing HIV transmission rates by increasing women’s ability to negotiate with abusive husbands’ high risk behavior.

Dr. Bharadwaj closes with an admonishment to the men of UCSD: easily seventy percent of the audience tonight is female, and UCSD males students should show more interest in gender equity issues. We can do better.

We’re now entering our question and answer segment, where our speakers will take question from our live audience and from Prospect’s Twitter followers. Thanks all around, and please continue to check out Prospect’s content and events.

You can follow questions and reactions to this event on Twitter. #prospectevents

nequality should be seen as a collection of disparate and interlinked problems that work against each other — that is, fixing something in one area could lead to a problem in another realm.

PROSPECT Event – “The Importance and Role of Women in Development: A Panel Discussion”

Monday, November 7th, Prospect, Model United Nations at UCSD, and International Affairs Group will be hosting “The Importance and Role of Women in Development: A Panel Discussion“. This panel talk will bring together multiple disciplines to discuss not only why gender equality is important but also crucial for the growth and prosperity of developing countries.

We’re lucky enough to be hosting an expert panel of speakers:

Prashant Bharadwaj, UCSD Department of Economics
“Growing Pains – Health and Education Challenges Faced by Young Women in India.”

Jay Silverman, UCSD Medical School Division of Global Public Health
“Gender-based Violence Against Women and Girls: A Major Barrier to Health.”

Nancy Gilson, School of International Relations and Pacific Studies
“What Does it Mean to Be “Equal” In a Diverse World?: Defining Gender Equity so that It Can Be Measured.”

If you’re in the San Diego area stop by, it should be an interesting and informative discussion.

12% of Female BAs Major in Science, Math or Technology, Less Actually Work in Their Field

By Taylor Marvin

Via Kay Steiger, Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce has a new report out on women in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields:

It’s worth remembering that while a greater and greater percentage of doctorates are awarded to women, there are still huge institutional barriers to women entering the science and technology workforce. While increasing female education attainment will likely erode these barriers in the future, they’re enormously harmful today. Barriers that cause large numbers of female STEM BA graduates to leave their field is a huge waste of talent.

The report also presents another interesting, if discouraging, finding — the gender wage gap for STEM workers is higher than for other fields:

The entire report is very informative; check it out.

Update: I should probably note that the above statistic only covers female STEM BAs, which are generally less useful than STEM BSs, for both males and females. The lower career utility of a STEM BA vs. a BS likely explains some of the high attrition rate of female STEM BA graduates. That said, there’s clearly suboptimal education resource allocation going on if that many female STEM BAs don’t stick to jobs in their fields.

The World 99 Percent, Cont.

By Taylor Marvin

At the Washington Post, Suzy Khimm takes a comprehensive look at whether America’s bottom 99 percent fall into the world’s top 1%:

“As it turns out, the bottom 99 percent of the United States doesn’t make the top 1 percent of household incomes worldwide — but it comes surprisingly close. Branko Milanovic, lead economist for the World Bank research group, sent me this comparative analysis based on household income or consumption surveys worldwide, adjusted for purchasing power differences. Those at the 34th percentile of income in the United States are at the 90th percentile globally, and those at the 50th percentile in the United States are at the 93rd percentile globally. Even the very poorest Americans — those at the 2nd percentile of income in the United States — are at the 62nd percentile globally.

Technically speaking, only a small minority of Americans are in the top 1 percent globally: Just those at the 92nd percentile and above are part of the richest 1 percent on earth. But many others come pretty close. All Americans at the 82nd percentile and higher are in the top 2 percent globally, for instance. So although critics aren’t exactly right about the privileged 99 percent in this country, their general point seems to hold.”