A “Mere” Political Scientist? Or Merely HOT?

Feb 12 '12

From today’s New York Times profile of economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers:

In her third year there, a handsome Australian on a Fulbright scholarship arrived. At first, Ms. Stevenson dismissed him as a mere political scientist. “It wasn’t what he said; it was his long hair,” she said.

Mr. Wolfers, kneading one of Ms. Stevenson’s pedicured feet, interrupted.

“Betsey used to tell this story as, ‘He was too good-looking to be an economist,’ ” he said. “But somehow the story has gotten less generous.”

I was all ready to get worked up at “mere” and then I remembered that, crap, I had long hair as a political science graduate student.

But if Wolfers’ comment is correct, the story of their meeting gets more interesting.  In fact, the story would then show how early Stevenson manifested one of the crucial traits that defines how she and Wolfers practice economics — what the article describes as “hew[ing] — one might even say passionately — to the data.”

Why would the story show this?  Because The Data are unequivocal: political scientists are much better-looking than economists.

So it’s perhaps disappointing that Stevenson would make such a sub-optimal decision — that is, choosing to marry Wolfers instead of a steamy, sexy, hot political scientist.  But, as a married guy myself, I do know that love — and perhaps even “lovenomics”? — requires compromise.

If you don’t believe me, ask my wife.