Mental Experiments and the Mancovery

This is the new story out — it’s a mancovery! From Bloomberg:

Men, who lost more than twice as many jobs as women during the worst economic slump since the Great Depression, have landed 88 percent of the non-farm jobs created since the recession ended in June 2009. The share of men saying the economy was improving jumped to 41 percent in March, compared with 26 percent of women, according to the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index’s monthly expectations gauge.

“The recovery is a mancovery,” said Heather Boushey, a senior economist at the Washington-based Center for American Progress. “I don’t see improvement for women in the past year, whereas for men this is the best year in years.”

So here’s the question — if men lost 100% more of the jobs in the recession than women, what percentage of new job openings would we expect them to get back if we were looking for an equitable recovery? Is it above 88%? Below 88%? What is the exact percentage?

You might know the answer to this already, but, if you don’t. you can do a Mental Experiment. Plug in some fake numbers and find out!

Here’s what I found out:

Untitled from Mike Caulfield on Vimeo.

So the 88% does, to some extent, represent a “mancovery”, though maybe not by the amount it initially seems (66% of jobs going to men would be equitable so this is about 33% more jobs than we might expect).

Could you have figured this out without an experiment? Absolutely. An easy way to look at this is that if men lost double the jobs, they must have lost 66% to women’s 33%. And if 66% of the jobs lost were lost by men, then 66% of the jobs returning should be men’s jobs. But that’s easy in retrospect. Things like that are not always clear when you first come to a novel problem.

So, the important point is, as always, if you don’t understand something, plug some fake numbers in and play around a bit. For most problems like this it’s easy and inexpensive to do a thought experiment.

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One Comment on “Mental Experiments and the Mancovery”

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