The IGM Economic Experts Panel has been regularly surveying prominent economists on a variety of issues now, and Chris Said used that data to create a cool tool where you answer the questions and then he situates your responses relative to those of the experts and tells you which scholar you most resemble. My economist twin is Yale’s Judith Chevalier so then I looked up some of her research on a subject that I don’t have any opinions about.
Here’s a paper she did with Keith Chen on the fact that American women appear to overinvest in education perhaps because after obtaining impressive credentials they fail to adequately “lean in” and take advantage of their professional skills:
Recent literature finds that women earn significantly lower returns to professional degrees. Does this render these degrees poor investments for women? We compare physicians to physician assistants, a similar profession with lower wages and training costs, mitigating some selection issues. The median female (but not male) primary-care physician would have been financially better off becoming a physician assistant. While there is a wage gap, our result occurs primarily because most female physicians do not work enough hours to rationalize medical school whereas most men do. We discuss robustness issues and nonwage returns to education that may rationalize these investments by women.
Another way of putting this, perhaps, is that contrary to what you sometimes here there’s still plenty of “low-hanging fruit” in America in the form of women’s labor supply. If society in general (and women’s partners in particular) shouldered more of the domestic load and were more supportive of career-oriented goals, that could release a non-trivial amount of highly skilled labor that’s currently being used on non-market work. What’s more, by increasing the objective returns to education such moves toward greater gender equity should also support further deepening of women’s stock of human capital.
I’m not sure if Chevalier and Chen would endorse that hypothesis, but based on our similar answers to the IGM questions perhaps we should hypothesize that we would agree about other stuff too.