Friday, April 6, 2012

Life updates

I don't know why, but I kind of like writing these autobiographical updates when things move into the "inbox" and get put in the "outbox". So here's another one.

- As I noted, there were a few counter-offers on the house but we finally settled on something that we're happy with, and the contract is ratified - closing May 10th if everything goes well. This whole process went surprisingly smoothly, but I imagine when it comes to juggling selling and buying at the same time it would have been a lot harder. Home inspection Monday - I'll try to remember to take pictures and post.

- A draft proposal that Hal Salzman (Rutgers), Lindsay Lowell (Georgetown) and I are writing for the Sloan Foundation was submitted today. They have an interesting grant process - we submit a draft, they circulate and critique it, then send it back to us to change before the quarterly meeting where they make the decision. This is very exciting because it will fund my stipend so I don't have to TA anymore! The proposal is for research on "loose coupling" between science and engineering education and the labor market. Basically, lots of S&E majors don't get S&E jobs and we're looking into why. Hal is a sociologist and Lindsay is a demographer and they have analyses they're spearheading, but the part of the work I'll be directing will be a standard occupational choice model with a few important twists, which will hopefully be intriguing enough to be one of my dissertation essays. I am very excited about this - it could really change the complexion of graduate experience if we get it (which I get the impression there's a good chance of).

- With that off my plate for a little while, I got another thing on my plate that's very exciting! I was invited to write an article for a special issue about Hayek of Critical Review. I was asked to write a "fair but critical" assessment of ABCT. Due in a little down the road, which is good because this will be a busy summer. There are some big names among the other contributors, so this is a great opportunity.

But for now - finishing off the school year, and finishing off a few current projects.


  1. I am thinking about becoming an Electrical Engineer, so i would really want to know if not many Engineers get a job in their field.

    1. Anonymous - I'm not focusing on EE in any of my chapters, but I just ran some numbers that I hope will help. As I'm sure you know, there are a lot of EEs out there, and while degree awards have been declining for the last two decades (although more stable recently) it still produces more engineers than any other field. Because there are so many, salaries can be a lot lower than other fields. You're not going to be flipping burgers with an EE degree, but you may be somewhat outside of the field.

      I was a little surprised by just how much... looking at the 2009 and 2010 ACS, at all people with a bachelors in EE, only about 10 percent of those in the labor force were electrical engineers. People are usually surprised how low the percent in field is across all engineering fields, but this is particularly low. Another 10 percent or so are software engineers. Then another chunk of workers is in management - this is not uncommon with engineers, and typically these are older engineers that used to hold a more technical position. So if you restrict to younger people (which I haven't in this run of the data), more will be concentrated in engineering fields.

      Two other big groups - about a quarter of EE bachelors are in engineering fields (this includes that 10 percent in EE). This does not include software engineers, which aren't really engineers in the traditional sense. So that means that 15% of EE grads are in a non-EE engineering field (or, some of them just responded as "general engineering" rather than "electrical engineering", and they might still be doing EE). So this may be some civil work that is heavy on utilities/electrical content, etc. But again - that still seems low to me - just a quarter.

      The unemployed is the other group - which is about 5% for EE grads.

      So big picture:
      - 25% are engineers with 10% explicitly saying EE
      - Another 10% are software engineers.
      - Another 8% or so are managers of some sort (typically older)
      - 5% are unemployed.

      Those are the big groups - the rest are scattered across other occupations, although it looks like its concentrated in computer related fields.

      This may be a function of the recession. Often high skilled workers aren't unemployed during recessions, but they are underemployed in the sense of taking jobs outside their field. So keep that in mind - but EE is more glutted than other engineering fields.

  2. Glad to hear that you and your wife found something you like with regard to housing, Daniel.

    Good luck on the Sloan application process. I hope you make it.

    As for the special issue on F.A. Hayek...will you cite Michael Emmett Brady's paper that compares and contrasts the approaches to uncertainty taken by Hayek and Keynes? (See link below.) I think that it would be worth citing for your paper.

    1. I think so. A lot of what I anticipate talking about is different views of the natural rate of interest, but I do want to address these dumb claims that Keynes didn't get the point of heterogeneous capital - and this may very well be relevant there.

  3. Dr. Brady's paper talks about Keynes's weight of evidence concept with regard to uncertainty. You might want to point out that Austrians lack a corresponding concept. The paper can be read as an implicit criticism of ABCT. Also, I believe that it has been submitted to the International Journal of Applied Economics and Econometrics. I'll have to find out if it has been accepted...


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