Sunday, February 12, 2012

Alternative job search strategies in economics: Justin and Betsey edition

Nice of the NYT to produce a puff piece on Justin and Betsey in the midst of their senior job search! I wonder how one goes about setting that up?

I was a bit surprised by this:
BUT it is their work on lovenomics, as it might be called, and their popularity with the news media, that have brought them attention outside the academy. Their modest celebrity has led to some sniping among their peers — several would not publicly declare their criticism — but their fans are effusive.
I do not always agree with Justin on policy stuff, but he never embarrasses the profession by lowering the level of debate to personal attacks in the way that some other economists do.  My sense too is that Betsey did a fine job in what is truly a thankless and mind-numbing (and poorly paid) position as chief economist at the Department of Labor. And the debate within the profession about whether the economics of the family is a good idea or a bad one was settled a long time ago in the affirmative.  Moreover, popular economists who emphasize the economics over the politics do both society and the profession a big favor by encouraging interest in undergraduate economics courses.

I was surprised by this bit too:
They are now writing an introductory economics textbook.
Seems like a bad productivity signal for the senior job market to me.

And worse yet is this:
Ms. Stevenson has ... a stylish taste in clothes and shoes. 
Those familiar with the level of dress in the typical economics department will understand that hiring a colleague with a "stylish taste in clothes and shoes" imposes a huge burden on everyone else, who then looks worse by comparison and, as a result, feels badly about their appearance and/or wastes real resources trying to catch up. Really, the NYT is not helping them here.

If you can get past occasional airhead reader stuff like this bit:
Their home in Philadelphia, in a historic building that once housed an African-American publishing house, features soaring ceilings and custom iron work. A glass-top Noguchi coffee table is in the living room, next to a white Jonathan Adler casting couch covered in a sheepskin throw from Costco. In the attic is a home gym with a treadmill, a boxing bag, a recumbent bicycle and a flat-screen television.
the remainder of the article is well worth reading and includes some information about what graduate courses in economics are like.

Addendum: Tyler Cowen thinks about the NYT profile of Justin and Betsey in terms of the new Charles Murray book as well as his older book the Bell Curve.

Addendum 2: Additional interpretative information for those new to this blog: This post was not really intended as a "zing" but rather as some gentle teasing, a bit of praise, and some cheerful mocking of the NYT and (some of) its readers and their evident interest in the dress and decorating habits of economists, the latter of which strikes me as rather like looking to actors for guidance in politics. Finally, I know both Justin and Betsey, though not well, and my impression is that one or both of them reads this blog at least occasionally. I wrote the post with the understanding that they would read it.

Addendum 3: In just over a day, this post is third on my all time list, after only my post on matching and my post on journal spam.

Via: Greg Mankiw

No comments: