Who Has A Marginal Wage?

Who Has A Marginal Wage?

Who Has A Marginal Wage?

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Feb. 20 2012 3:14 PM

Who Has A Marginal Wage?

Jodi Beggs offers some anecdata and claims that economists are unusual prone to outsourcing household production activities: "In general, I find that economists are more willing than most to 'go to the market' for services that they could theoretically do themselves (cleaning, child care, etc.) than the average person, and I take this as evidence that economists take the concept of comparative advantage and gains from trade seriously."

I'm not sure if this is true, but if it is I think another piece of the puzzle is that economists—like many writers—have a meaningful marginal wage. I could, in other words, increase my earnings by working harder and doing more freelance work. Alternatively, I could garner more free time for myself at the expense of some income. The time I save by paying someone else to scrub the bathroom once a week is a real monetizable commodity for me, just as it is for a lot of academics who could be publishing more if they put more hours into it or possibly doing things in consulting or for the popular press. But that kind of work situation is mildly unusual. There is still obviously a "cost" to foregone leisure, but you don't get the same kind of dollars-to-dollars time use comparison that facilitates making sound judgments about these kind of things.