Saturday, November 24, 2007

Rules for being a successful empirical economist

Conversations With History - Richard B. Freeman

1. You’ve to like numbers

2. You’ve to listen to people [from the real world, businessmen, labor unions, etc] and get out of office and talk to people

3. Ability to abstract … and build mathematical models.

Berkely need to modernize their style of interviews- and open up for questions in advance for interviewers.

HT: New Economist

Video about Richard Freeman

"Feminization of Work in the U SA: A New Era for (Man)kind?"

"White Hats or Don Quixotes? Human Rights Vigilantes in the Global Economy"

"What Role for Labor Standards in the Global Economy"

"Working for Nothing: The Supply of Volunteer Labor"
"Does Inequality in Skills Explain Inequality of Earnings Across Countries"

A Fairer Sort of Harvard;
Last spring protesting students at Harvard demanded that the university pay all of its workers at least a living wage and that it stop contracting with outside companies for low-wage work. Faced with unflattering national publicity, Harvard set up a committee of faculty members, administrators, students and employees to look at the situation of its low-wage workers and make recommendations. The protests had raised a fundamental question: Does a major employer like Harvard have a responsibility to be a good employer to workers, or should it seek to get by with the least it can in the labor market?

The last time Harvard faced this question was in December 1929, when the State of Massachusetts ordered it to pay female building cleaners the state minimum wage of 37 cents an hour, 2 cents above what the university had been paying. Choosing to get by with the least it could, Harvard fired the cleaning women and directed other workers to do their jobs.

This time Harvard is going in a very different direction. Its committee's report, which came out this week, documents the substantial decline in the real wages of custodians and other low-paid employees. It describes how the threat that work would be contracted out has put pressure on unionized workers to accede to low pay. If the committee's recommendations are adopted next month by Harvard's president, Lawrence Summers -- as is likely, given his positive reaction to the report -- the university will be committed to treating its lower-wage workers as full members of the university community and to giving them decent wages, respect for their work and opportunities for further training.

The committee also recommends pay increases that would take the lowest wages to between $10.83 and $11.30 an hour from $8.50. These rates are based on what the committee felt collective bargaining would have produced absent the threat of outsourcing to lower-wage contractors. The recommended pay levels exceed the levels in the living wage law that the City of Cambridge applies to municipal employees and city contractors.

Contrary to the fears of some alumni, students and administrators, the committee did not cave in to student demands for setting low-level pay according to a living wage formula, about which there could be considerable controversy, or to end outsourcing. Though it recommends a wage floor for the present, the heart of its proposal is something else: a parity wage and benefits policy for contractors, based on collective bargaining. Companies under contract to provide workers at Harvard would have to pay wages equivalent to the wages for Harvard's unionized employees doing comparable work. The Harvard unions would be bargaining, in effect, for minimum wages and benefits for the employees of contractors as well as for themselves, even though those outside workers might not be union members.

Richard Freeman awarded IZA Prize 2007

Public Sector Collective Bargaining Law Data Set
Occupational Wages around the World (OWW) Database
Worker Representation and Participation Survey (WRPS)

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