Thursday, January 31, 2013

Interesting chart showing the Gender Gap in obtaining College Degrees and the disciplines those degrees are in. Eye-opening!!

Numerically, women earn significantly more college degrees than men do.  However, there is some disparity in the nature of those degrees.  Below this graphic is a brief analysis from Mark Perry at Carpe Diem.

From Carpe Diem:

The table above is based on the most recent data from the Department of Education on bachelor’s degrees by academic discipline and the sex of the graduating students for the college class of 2011 (most recent year available). Here are some observations:

1. Women earned 57.2% of all bachelor’s degrees in 2011, which also means that there were almost 134 women in that year’s graduating class for every 100 men.

2. For the College Class of 2011, women significantly outnumbered men in 15 academic disciplines, men outnumbered women in nine academic fields, and there was approximate gender parity in five disciplines.

3. For bachelor’s degrees in health professions (primarily registered nursing), 566 women graduated in 2011 for every 100 men, for public administration there were 446 female graduates for every 100 men, for education there were 391 women for every 100 men, and for psychology there were 334 women for every 100 men.

4. In the most unbalanced academic fields favoring males, 481 men graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering for every 100 female graduates, and 467 men earned a degree in computer science for every 100 women.

5. As much as we hear about female under-representation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), women outnumbered men for bachelor’s degrees in biological and biomedical sciences by a ratio of 144 females for every 100 males. Women also earned more than 43% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in mathematics in 2011, and more than 44% of the degrees in general mathematics (the most popular of the 12 sub-disciplines in math). For general chemistry (another STEM field), women earned almost half (48.8%) of the bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2011.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Is student debt a new form of birth control? Maybe this is the only one that is truely effective!!

Behind the falling US birthrate: too much student debt to afford kids?
Karen Hu of Oakton, Va., is 28, married, graduated from law school – and thinking about babies. But that's as far as she and her husband, a software programmer, have gotten: just thinking. What's holding them back?

For one, Ms. Hu is finding it a challenge to land a good job in the post-recession economy.

For another, her student debt – some $164,000, with a monthly payment of $818 – is forcing the couple to think hard about taking on the additional expenses that come with having a child. "Children just don't fit into that scenario," Hu says.

I am feeling a little put upon by NPR. My first name is not valid in their eyes..

This was a what the heck moment for me.  I tried to sign up on National Public Radio so I could comment on an article on their website, but got into this loop.

Is "Gene" such an outmoded name?

 I just googled "famous people named Gene" and got THIS list.  Most are dead. 

Nevermind.  My comment was going to be lame anyway... 

Who knew? Manti Teo's fake girlfriend had a fake father who was a fake economist. (Is that last comparison redundant?)

The Fake Economist Who Conned A Nation
""As an ex-presidential consultant, a former adviser to the World Bank, a financial researcher for the United Nations and a professor in the US, Artur Baptista da Silva's outspoken attacks on Portugal's austerity cuts made the bespectacled 61-year-old one of the country's leading media pundits last year.
The only problem was that Mr Baptista da Silva is none of the above. He turned out to be a convicted forger with fake credentials and, following his spectacular hoodwinking of Portuguese society, he could soon face fraud charges.
Mr Baptista da Silva's comeuppance began when the UN confirmed to a Portuguese TV station last month that he did not work for the organisation, not even as a volunteer, as he later alleged. Further media investigations uncovered his prison record and fake university titles...""

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"French and Malian Forces Retake Timbuktu"--I never thought I would live long enough to see this headline. See here a photo of a cherished possession I received while serving there and my own short personal comment on the situation

French and Malian Forces Retake Timbuktu

In the early 1980's I served as a Marine Security Guard at the US Embassy in Bamako, Mali. I visited several areas in Mali, including Timbuktu.  It was like stepping back in time.  It truly is a sad thing that buildings, structures and a unique culture that have been in place for centuries are under attack, physically and spiritually, by outsiders with an radical agenda.

Have you EVER ever heard of Mali before?  Probably not. The Mailian people are generally the most kind, polite, sincere and peaceful people on the planet and I was the recipient of those virtues in large doses on many occasions in the time I spent there.  Malians find ways to thrive in conditions that make subsistence an everyday challenge. 

The photo above is a cherished possession of mine. It is a decorative bag that local workers in the Embassy motor pool chipped in to purchase for me as a going away gift when my tour of duty was over.  I remember to this day (31 years ago) the feeling I got when they presented it to me.  They could not afford to do this, but they did it anyway. 

This generosity is typical of Malians. They don't deserve the tribulations that are being visited upon them.  I pray it stops soon before before a full scale humanitarian disater occurs.

The time I spent there STILL pays dividends for me as a citizen and as a teacher.  The lessons of hope amidst extreme poverty I learned so long ago are not lost on me to this day.  I never would have known that if I had not served there.

God Bless the people of The Republic of Mali. 

The economy can't recover fully and Government can't get smaller unless we address the issue of the Long Term Unemployed. Everything else is unproductive commentary. See here why...

A very nice discussion and summary, in this Bruce Bartlett column at the The Economix,  of two major classifications that people can be slotted into in terms of their unemployment status---Cyclical and Structural Unemployment.  The third category, Frictional Unemployment is not explicitly identified.

Below I excerpted an important part of his posting that I think is important.  There are two different afflictions that conspire to affect the same group of people, the long(er) term unemployed. 

The first is time---time not engaged in productive work, especially in the area the worker specializes in.  Skills erode and unless the he/she can update those skills to remain current in the field, they can become less relevant to an employer the longer they are idle.

The second is the employment of capital to automate "routine skills and procedures" that effectively render a workers previously relevant skills obsolete. 

So, time and technology are the crux of the problem for hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of workers.  What are these folks to do? They are not going away.  I venture to say MOST want productive work but they are caught in between the proverbial rock and a hard place. They are either going to be absorbed by the market place or by government programs of some sort.

I encourage you to read the whole article. It connects lots of dots to the study of Unemployment in an Economics class.

Outsourcing, Insourcing and Automation
"...If the central problem is a lack of aggregate demand, then the vast bulk of the unemployed are jobless through no fault of their own. This macroeconomic problem requires a more expansive monetary and fiscal policy.
But if the problem is structural, increasing aggregate demand is unlikely to reduce unemployment and is more likely to raise the rate of inflation.
Structural unemployment is much more difficult to deal with. Workers may require extensive retraining because the businesses and industries that employed them no longer exist, and their skills no longer have the value they once did.
The distinction between cyclical unemployment and structural unemployment is further complicated by something called hysteresis, which, basically, is the process whereby cyclical unemployment is converted into structural unemployment.
The longer someone is out of work, the less likely that person is to find a job. Skills deteriorate, younger workers tend to be hired for available vacancies, jobs move to new geographical locations and so on.
Another factor that contributes to structural unemployment is automation — the replacement of human labor with machinery, computers and robots....

Sunday, January 27, 2013

HOLY COW!! Bovine smuggling from India to Bangladesh has increased dramatically. Read here what "the beef" is between these two countries...

When quantity demanded of a good is greater than quantity supplied of a good the price of that good tends to increase, especially if there are supply-side exogenous variables that prevent a re-balancing to the previous market equilibrium price.

Bangladesh loves beef.  They love it so much that they consume all they can produce domestically and STILL want more. 

Neighboring India has cows every where.  However, they are sacred and it is illegal to export them across the border.

A vibrant smuggling industry has popped up to transport cows from India to Bangladesh.

Because the trade is illegal, those suppliers (smugglers) engaging in the activity are incurring significant "transaction costs" for each smuggled cow over and above the cost if the trade was legal.

They have to pay bribes along the way PLUS they need to be compensated for the risk they are taking by engaging in an illegal activity. 

Hence the cost of each additional cow (the Marginal Cost) smuggled over the border is going to be significantly higher than a legally traded cow.

So, the additional cows brought over the border, over and above the ones already supplied domestically in Bangladesh, are going to require a higher market price to make it worth it for the smugglers.

If enough consumers (Demanders) of beef are willing and able to pay a higher price for the beef, smugglers are willing and able it increase the quantity supplied at that higer price.

Smugglers were not willing (although they were able, I suppose) to supply more cows at the lower price--too much risk, little reward.

There was movement ALONG the Beef Supply curve in this market in response to the increase in demand. The Quantity Supplied of Beef did not increase at the previous price, which would have indicated an increase in the Supply of Beef and a shifting of the supply curve to the right.

Now I want a Cheeseburger. Gotta go get some lunch...

Cow smuggling ... it's how Bangladesh gets its beef
Beef is a delicacy in Bangladesh, but Hindu-majority India refuses to sell their sacred cows. The demand is so high, however, that a dangerous $920 million cow smuggling trade has popped up

The country's meat producers estimate that slaughterhouses need up to 3 million cows every year to feed Bangladeshi appetites, and to help meet demand, Bangladesh is eyeing neighboring India. Cows are everywhere in India, but the cow is considered holy in the Hindu-majority country. In fact, slaughtering cows is banned in many Indian states, and New Delhi refuses to export them.

That refusal hasn't done much to deter the demand for beef in Bangladesh, however. In fact, say officials in Dhaka, beef has become so valuable it's spurred a dangerous cow smuggling trade across the India-Bangladesh border.

More than 2 million cows are smuggled from India to Bangladesh every year and most of the illegal trade takes place through the Indian border state of West Bengal, says Bimal Pramanik, an independent researcher in Calcutta, India.

“Bangladeshi slaughterhouses cannot source even 1 million cows from within the country. If Indian cows do not reach the Bangladeshi slaughterhouses, there will be a big crisis there,” says Mr. Pramanik

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