Monday, January 9, 2012

Dishwasher Wanted Spanish Required

In the last couple of weeks I have seen two local Silver Spring restaurants put help wanted signs up in Spanish only (no English) looking for someone to wash dishes. Despite the many Salvadorian places in my neighborhood, these two places serve Japanese and Moroccan food, respectively. What could be the potential cause of the sign only posted in Spanish?

1. There are no English speaking dishwashers who would want to work
2. Spanish speaking workers have higher productivity per dollar of wage than English speaking workers
3. The Japanese and Moroccan restaurants have a preference for Latin workers other than based on things other than 1 or 2.

Montgomery county's unemployment rate is roughly 5, but neighboring Prince George's County is above 7%. I'm sure unemployment rates are much higher for those with education credentials that would have people looking for a dishwasher, so I'm doubting 1 is the potential answer. The obvious answer seems to be 2, but I'm wondering if 3 could also be a possibility. If other kitchen staff are also Spanish speaking (not uncommon in non-Latin ethnic restaurants in Silver Spring based on my observation). A common language could help productivity and morale as I have heard Spanish jokes sometimes between restaurant staff.

Totally unrelated (I hope) one of those restaurants had a fire

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Picking Brains for Free?

A contributor to Forbes says she is done with allowing people to pick her brain for free. She suggests if people want to take you to coffee to pick your brain you should show them a fee schedule.

After reading Predictably Irrational I wonder if there isn't a problem from a behavioral economics perspective. One of the lessons of the book is that once money enter an exchange the feeling changes. The author Dan Ariely provides an example. If you need help changing your tire I might help you as a good person or your friend. However, if you offer me $5 to help you I might think you place no value on my time.

I think the key to building relationships and social capital is keeping the relationship like changing a tire for free. Sure at some point if people keep taking to much your time or they are using what you tell them to make lots of money you might consider charging.

Until then feel free to pick my brain, although you will probably get what you pay for.

via Twitter @justinwolfers who funny enough once picked my brain
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

School or Work from Modern India to 1900s Chicago

"Of course when CCTs [conditional cash transfers] force children back into school the children might not learn to read and might not learn to divide, but they will learn an important, if tragic, life lesson: when you are poor the state has power and you do not." from Lant Pritchett posting at the World Bank's Development Blog

The post is a good read. In short he talks about some survey data that early 1900s kids working in factories preferred the factory over the school by a 4 to 1 margin. In short school was not a desirable place to be. Pritchett goes on to talk about how in modern India many schools lack the ability to actually improve math or reading outcome. Despite this the poorest countries adopt a solution conditional cash transfers that pay money to families but only if their children to go to school. As I have blogged previously I'm not sure CCTs can work in all countries. In short countries where CCTs have increased schooling substantially (Mexico and Brazil) are relatively well off, while Pritchett contrasts this with the poorest regions in India, which lack the schooling infrastructure or political capacity to run such programs. Most of the research I'm aware of though suggests that unconditional cash transfer can also lead to increases in schooling, when programs are stated to be intended for children's development and money is given to the mother. For example in Malawi one of the poorest countries in the world conditional and unconditional cash transfer payment to girls have been about as equally effective.

I wonder returning to the child in early 20th century factor, if they prefer the factory because they have some autonomy over their wages. That is when they collect their payment from the factory they get to spend some portion of it. One difference between the Malawi programs and most of the others I have seen is the payment were made directly to the girls as opposed to their mothers.
  Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

When Can I Retire to Portlandia

I have been watching the series Portlandia (watch the video above) which satirizes people my age living the dream of the 1990s of working less, doing more weird stuff, and generally just hangin'. It has gotten me thinking as I take a break from working on a grant application that if it goes well will give me more work, why aren't there more people moving to Portland the city where young people go to retire (as Portlandia quips). A paper by Angus Deaton and Daniel Kahneman show that after about $75,000 a year extra money doesn't make you happier, but it makes you feel you have a better life. So perhaps I'm working to feel better about my life? At the Portlandia end of the spectrum people work a few odd jobs to maintain a minimum level of consumption. I have heard from friends of ours that move to Portland, that these part time barista, bike mechanic, and bar tender jobs are getting harder to find. Our friend said finding a full time job wasn't as hard since fewer people wanted them. Of course this is all anecdotal, but what do expect from a post about Portlandia? Bookmark and Share