Friday, March 25, 2011

A Puzzle? Why Do No Top Female Economists Blog?

REPEC provides an objective measure of who is "Royalty" in the economics profession.  The current list of the top 5% is here.   I am ranked #681 out of 27,365 economists so that's not bad (and my 3 books aren't counted here).  But, here is the interesting part.  There are 52 women who rank in the top 1000 and 0 of them blog.  Contrast that with the men.  Consider the top 100 men. In this elite subset; at least 8 of them blog.  Consider the men ranked between 101 and 200. At least, six of them blog.  So, this isn't very scientific but we see a 7% participation rate for excellent male economists and a 0% participation rate for excellent women.    This differential looks statistically significant to me.   I have searched for Nancy Folbre among the top 1369 economists (the 5% cutoff) and she is not counted in the elite subset.

How do you resolve this puzzle?  A Household Production Theory of leisure would posit that men have more leisure time than working women and that nerdy guys spend more time reading and writing blog posts (such as this one).    If women who work are also providing more time in "home production" in cooking and rearing children then the time budget constraint will bind.  UPDATE: One blogger responded to this post by arguing that economics bloggers are posting combative nasty stuff and that most women don't want to participate in such professional wrestling.  While, there is some truth to this --- I use this blog to promote my own work rather than to drag others down.  Leading economists such as Gary Becker use their blogs to talk about the real world rather than to score some cheap debating points.

Is the dearth of top women bloggers a problem?  It actually is in the following sense.  The shrewd academic uses his blog to market his ideas and to "amplify" his new academic results. This is a type of branding. I am a like a mediocre washing powder that advertises on TV using jingles and this is good!  You don't have to be as big a star as Tyler Cowen to leverage your blog into new opportunities. If women are not participating in this sector, then excellent women are losing certain opportunities that the blogger class takes for granted.  In a linear algebra sense, we may also be losing out on important ideas that women would offer if they did blog. Perhaps, men do not know everything?

Solutions to this problem?  That's your problem --- my job was to pose the riddle and answer the question.