Proffies as drug lords versus the small stakes

Attention conservation notice: Dual labor markets are interesting, but why it took people this long to notice it in the academy is a bit beyond me.

A blog post that has gotten a lot of play comes from Alexandre Afonso: How Academia Resembles A Drug Gang. The original post is intelligent and insightful, and actually captures the intellectual basis of the Leavitt and Venkatesh paper about drug lords: a dual labor market with very high risks and high rewards–but only for a select few. The point of Leavitt and Venkatesh’s original paper was economic theory; you could show that members who entered drug gangs were operating according to predictable rules of micro theory and agents in labor markets with imperfect information. The problem concerned information about future states and desert. Since a great deal depends on luck and hitting the right connections, many people in both academic and drug gang labor markets wind up not achieving desert, where their marginal productivity is reflected in wages, working conditions, or other compensation. Instead, many wind up earning much less than their talents and effort suggest they should.Read More »