12 October 2005

Effects and Causes

Why is it people seem incapable of considering causality carefully? Isn't it at least equally as likely that families in which husbands earn more can more easily afford to have a stay at home wife? Isn't it likely that men who earn more can more easily attract a mate, and that this may be the cause of married men earning more than single men, rather than some magical effect of marriage? It is also true that earnings tend to increase with experience, which tends to increase with age, and that the more we age, the more likely we are to be married.

People seem to be particularly uncritical about causality when pet causes or recieved/conventional wisdom are involved. Some favorites:

"Crime is down, but the prisons are fuller than ever." Do I really need to point out the flaw here? Maybe, just maybe, more of the people prone to committing crimes are in jail!?!

"Women earn $0.70 (or whatever) on the dollar compared with men." While there is no doubt some sexism involved, there are certainly other contributing factors which are a second-order effects of being a woman at best. For instance, women are the sex capable of bearing children and often choose to do so, taking time off from careers to facilitate thier choice. Women may be impacted by cultural gender roles which teach them to be more supportive and less assertive than men.

"We're having the Third Great Awakening!" Could it be that the trend towards conservative evangelical Christianity in the U.S. is not a result of the deity 'pouring out his spirit upon all flesh?'
Consider that the single greatest predictor of a person's religion is the religion of her parents. Consider also that the world over, religious fervor is directly related to a tendancy to breed, both of which are inversely related to education. So in the U.S. we have people who take their religion seriously and breed, increasing the numbers of the seriously religious. We also have people who don't take their religion as seriously, or, like Yours Truly, don't take it at all. These people tend to be more educated, and therefore more "liberal," since that seems to be the choice in our country -- anti-reason by virtue of religion or utopian politics. These folks tend to bear fewer children due to a focus on education/income and/or because of the rather effective, if sometimes questionable, means available to ensure the non-bearing of children.* Of course, evangelicals are having abortions too,** but at a lower rate, and this is more than made up for by the tendancy to breed. Given this, is it any wonder that demographics are shifting as they are?

* This has been described elsewhere as the "Roe Effect."
** About 20% of women getting abortions describe themselves as born-again/evangelical.


Men Earn More If Their Wives Do THIS

There are many women who will not like this one bit. New research from Britain's Institute for Social and Economic Research has shown that married men make more money than their bachelor friends as long as their wives stay home and do the housework, reports Reuters.

Specifically, researchers Elena Bardasi and Mark Taylor found in a 13-year study of 3,500 men who held all types of jobs from unskilled laborers to professional and executive positions that when a married man's wife did not work outside the home and took primary responsibility for the cooking and cleaning, that man earned about 3 percent more than single men with similar jobs. But when the wife went to work or didn't do most of the housework herself, the married man's wage premium evaporated.

"It has been fairly well documented that married men earn more than single men," Taylor, a labor economist who teaches at the University of Essex, told Reuters. "However, our research established the wage premium is related to the wife doing the chores."

Why? Taylor has two possible explanations.
1. When a woman takes full responsibility for the household chores, it allows her husband to better concentrate on his paid work, which in turn increases his productivity. That has a positive impact on his wages.

2. When a man is married to a wife who does the household work, he then has time to sharpen his work skills, something that could trigger a higher salary.

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