The hard problems in social science

Lee Professor of Economics Claudia Goldin called for further research on the persistent problem of why women are paid less than men are, and how to level the playing field. Her own research has shown that most or all of this bias is unintentional: women self-select into fields that pay less.

For a salaried employee, it would seem that working longer hours would translate into earning less per hour. But, Goldin said, “In some occupations, the more you work, thehigher your hourly earnings.” In these fields, she said, employers are willing to pay more for one employee who puts in 70 hours a week than for two who put each put in 35.

Goldin is one of many scholars weighing in on the unresolved ‘hard problems’ of social science.

I thought this was her most interesting statement:

“…when we were asked to come up with a hard problem in the social sciences, I think all of us thought very hard about it, and we came up with a bunch of hard problems. But when we had to create something for the audience, we realized that we had to come up with something that we actually knew something about, so then we threw away that hard problem and we took our research.”

She added that the problem she really wanted to talk about was how and why social norms change.