Conflicting Ernie awards?

Last night’s post on the economics of higher education included this (deliberately provocative) comment:

The efficient level of investment for a bright, hardworking young man (men being more likely to work full-time throughout their careers) is likely to be massively higher than for a middle-aged women of average intelligence filling in time after the kids have left home…

Kim at LP and most though not all the following commenters rise to the bait, demonstrating not my sexism but how their normative assumptions (men and women should be treated equally, with which I agree) over-ride their analytical abilities.

I was not passing any judgment on the relative ability of men and women. Indeed, women now significantly out-perform men at school. Nor was I commenting on appropriate gender roles. Men and women can make up their own minds on work and family activities and the split between them.

Rather, I was writing about a paper on the economic benefits of higher education, which for a given graduate are the hourly additional value they produce in the workplace compared to if they had not attended university multiplied by the number of hours they spend at work.

This issue cannot be anlaysed via my actual or supposed gender attitudes. For all the changes in social attitudes over the last 30 years, men are still significantly more likely to work full-time than women. This is true of graduates as well as non-graduates (there’s a graph from 2003 on p.9 of my FEE-HELP paper).
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