New book proposal: Freak-Freakonomics

Ariel Rubinstein decides to consider Steve Levitt as a rational self-interested economic agent (indeed, all economists and economics) to see what that implies about their behaviour (click here). The result is a new book proposal for Freak-Freakonomics published in The Economists’ Voice. Here is the proposal for Chapter 2:

chapter 2: why do economists earn more than mathematicians?

The chapter is inspired by Freakonomics’ discussion of the question of why “the typical prostitute earns more than the typical architect” (106). The comparison between architects and prostitutes can be applied to mathematicians and economists: the former are more skilled, highly educated and intelligent. Moreover, just as Levitt has never encountered a girl who dreams of being a prostitute, I have never met a child who dreams of being an economist. Like prostitutes, the skill required of economists is “not necessarily ‘specialized’” (106), so why do economists earn so much more than mathematicians?

Here, I offer a new explanation for the salary gap between mathematicians and economists: many economists are hired to justify a viewpoint. In contrast, I have never heard of mathematicians who proved a theorem to satisfy their masters.

Suffice it to say, Rubinstein a sceptic. He raises good points. Then again everyone enjoyed the book and it has made economics more exciting, at least to non-economists.