Late last month, a team of economists at the University of Washington released their findings on the past couple minimum wage increases in Seattle. Unsurprisingly, this was covered by just about every news outlet. To my surprise, many are divided over what the Seattle economists found. Economists at UC Berkeley did their own study and had different findings. This led to a lot of people, including economists, calling the University of Washington’s study flawed. The only problem is that their study isn’t as flawed as critics claim.
Why would a department want to make their major harder to obtain? While it sounds a little backwards, making it harder to earn a degree in economics not only helps the reputation of your school, it helps the reputation of your department. Think about the psychology between reputation and academic rigor: Ivy League schools are extremely hard to get into, but their courses aren’t necessarily harder (if they’re harder at all) than anywhere else. Since most people don’t know the second part, many believe an Ivy League graduate has some sort of mythical power in their field. The ugly truth: Half of the time, it’s just brand loyalty.
I’ve come to notice that at the University of Oregon (UO), economics isn’t the most popular major. At least, not the most popular primary major. Much of the time, I’ve noticed that accounting, general business, and finance majors are usually the ones double majoring in economics (economics being the secondary major). Of course, this makes me quite sad.
Why would this matter to me? Well, in a way, it really doesn’t. It matters to me not because I love economics and I think everybody should study it. It matters to me because I know how useful of a major it can be. However, it really doesn’t matter to me because it just means that I get more time with professors and that’s less competition later in life. But what’s more interesting than this is why economics isn’t popular.
Something that I think we tend to make a big mistake about is choosing a college by its prestige. Sure, going to a good school isn’t bad and people shouldn’t feel bad for choosing a college for being prestigious, at least as a factor in the decision. However, I’m going to say that choosing any college only for its prestige is ridiculous. Why? Because there’s more to college life and success than just how highly ranked the school is.
We’ve all seen what the minimum wage would be if it were adjusted for inflation, but do we really understand what that means? Many people tend to think that it represents what the minimum wage would be if it kept up with inflation for all those years. I’m probably going to get a lot of backlash for this, but that’s not what it represents. It represents what the minimum wage would be in 2013 dollars and the purchasing power thereof. However, there are organizations that preach “income inequality” and advocate for ludicrous minimum wage increases that would have you believe otherwise.
I decided to take a deeper look at what the minimum wage would be if it actually would be around $21.16 or $12 per hour. Hold on to your seats, because this small amount of research I did is going to make a lot of people confused, mad, and calling me names. Hint: It’s nowhere near what anybody thought it would be.
During my time in college, I’ve seen posters about why it’s important to attend your classes. One reason that caught my attention was that we lose $X each class we don’t attend. I wondered to myself, “How did they get that number?” Of course, math is the answer, but what were the factors used to determine that? I decided to fiddle around with some simple math and see for myself. Let’s just say that a $15 minimum wage wouldn’t make it worth it for most students at the University of Oregon to have a job.
If you’re in college, then you’re going to have an interesting time with this once you see what your time is worth. It also makes a great conversation starter at family gatherings such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Many of us during our freshman year are always asked by our advisor, “Which general education classes would you like to plan to take?” We immediately reply, “I’m not sure.” Knowing what you want to take and what you should take are very important to any major. But in economics, we can tend to get farther and farther away from what will help round us and make us better at what we do. Because of this, I thought it would be good to write about what kind of general education courses would be good for economics majors to take.