unobserved skill

Enrique Diaz-Alvarez enrique at
Thu Oct 15 07:35:18 PDT 1998

Rakesh Bhandari wrote:
> And the argument remains that I don't think it can
> be accounted for the varying skill intensity (whatever that means) of
> these professions. I don't think lawyers are more skilled or have more
> cognitive ability than design engineers than process engineers. Do you
> disagree?

No, I don't, as far as the lawyers go. But the fact that one profession gets paid far above their skill (which I haven't seen defined yet, I note) is not proof that there is no relation between s/c.a. and income.

As for the process vs. design engineers, yes, I do. It does require more brains and creativity to come up with new products than to keep a factory running (which says nothing about the relative usefulness of either, planned obsolescence being the bane of the entire technology industry). In fact, both process and design engineers are trained in the same place and at the same cost, so process engineers could easily choose the higher pay and prestige that comes with design jobs, if ability had nothing to do with it.

It seems to me that the entire law profession and its high income is a legal construct, and has very little to do with the labor market, such as it is. There are artificially high barriers to entry (you _need_ to spend $100,000+ to be allowed to practise), the US is a terribly legalistic society, and its ruling class is almost entirely made up of lawyers.

> best, rakesh

Cheers, -- Enrique Diaz-Alvarez Office # (607) 255 5034 Electrical Engineering Home # (607) 758 8962 112 Phillips Hall Fax # (607) 255 4565 Cornell University mailto:enrique at Ithaca, NY 14853

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