The Economist Went There - Shockingly Un-PC Study Shows Whites Work Hardest, Longest

A trio of labor economists suggest that effort at work is correlated with race...

As The Economist writes, given the long history of making racial slurs about the efforts of some workers, any study casting black and Hispanic men as lazier than whites and Asians is sure to court controversy.

But, a provocative working paper by economists Daniel Hamermesh, Katie Genadek and Michael Burda sticks a tentative toe into these murky waters.

They suggest that America’s well-documented racial wage gap is overstated by 10% because minorities, especially men, spend larger portions of their workdays not actually working.

Uncomfortable though the topic may be, the authors have attempted a rigorous analysis.

The study’s method is straightforward. The data come from nearly 36,000 “daily diaries”, self-reporting on how Americans spent their working hours, collected from 2003 to 2012.


Relying on the assumption that workers are equally honest in admitting sloth, the authors calculate the fraction of time spent not working while on the job - spent relaxing or eating, say - and find that it varies by race to a small but statistically significant degree.


The gap remains, albeit in weaker form, even with the addition of extensive controls for geography, industry and union status, among others. Non-white male workers spend an additional 1.1% of the day not working while on the job, or an extra five minutes per day.


Assuming their controls are adequate, that would still leave 90% of the wage difference between white workers and ethnic minorities, which was recently estimated to be 14%, unexplained.

After rejecting a number of plausible explanations for why this might be, the authors finally attribute the discrepancy to unexplained “cultural differences”.

Acutely aware of the sensitivity of these findings, the professors delayed publication until after the presidential election, releasing their report in January.

“I knew full well that Trump and his minions would use it as a propaganda piece,” says Mr Hamermesh, a colourful and respected labour economist. The paper may yet be seized on by those who are keen to root out “political correctness” and are perennially unhappy with current anti-discrimination laws.

When asked what motivated the study of such a sensitive topic, QZ's Allison Schrager notes that Hamermesh, typical of economists driven by pure intellectual curiosity, said it hadn’t occurred to him that it might be so controversial.

But, denunciations came quickly, however. Within hours of publication, Mr Hamermesh received vitriolic messages and was labelled a racist in an online forum popular among economists. Mr Hamermesh, an avowed progressive, who refers to Donald Trump only by amusing nicknames and resigned from a post at the University of Texas over a state law permitting the open carrying of firearms, finds this unfair.

He notes that Americans work too much. His preferred solution would not be for some groups to work more, but for others to work less.


Escrava Isaura Richard Chesler Tue, 11/21/2017 - 03:13 Permalink

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ACP: Based on what all the far left extremists say, I thought hispanics were the hardest workers. Because every economic paper can reach a desired metric by using some ludicrous measurement. I would think that all Hedgers would know it by now. But obviously that they don’t. And most Hedgers are white, go figure.  

In reply to by Richard Chesler

Wait What Escrava Isaura Tue, 11/21/2017 - 04:26 Permalink

"self-reporting" is a flawed methodology. Anyone using it would be laughed out of a symposium of statisticians. The title could just as easily read "who are the best liars about how they spend their work time?"take a stats class, ZH."in a self-reported study Wait What reported that he slept with 20,000 different women." How would one generate a multivariate measure of how many he actually slept with?

In reply to by Escrava Isaura

Escrava Isaura bonin006 Tue, 11/21/2017 - 03:36 Permalink

Oh boy. Another Hedger’s opinions and believes that are not based on reason, facts, or actual experience. bonin006: The study was self-reporting. Blacks also lie more than Hispanics. So are you with your ignorance that becomes lies. Educate yourself. Humans are hardwired to lie as they age, honey. A study published in “Developmental Psychology” asked a set of 65 kids not to peek at a hidden toy. When the examiner turned away, 50 percent of 3-year-olds and 80 percent of 8-year-olds snuck a look. When asked whether they peeked, most of the set had lied.The first level of primary lies emerges around 2–3 years of age when children begin to be able to deliberately make factually untrue statements. However, they do not necessarily take into consideration the mental states of the listener. Secondary lies emerge around the age of 4 years and require children to understand that the listener, unlike themselves, does not know the true state of affairs and thus is susceptible to false beliefs. Finally, around 7–8 years of age, children begin to reach tertiary lies where they are able to conceal their lies by maintaining consistency between their initial lie and follow-up statements.    

In reply to by bonin006

hardmedicine Escrava Isaura Tue, 11/21/2017 - 04:06 Permalink

OMG When the shit goes down, I hope I don't end up with you Escrava, because you are a liberal whiney bitch. that "developmental psychology" experiment shows that as the children aged they tended to question and disobey authority figures, Humans want to be free, White humans want to be free most of all,  White humans tend to work harder because they are the ones who take personal responsibility for themselves. Whites and Asians.  All others have an entitlement issue  At least in WEstern society  

In reply to by Escrava Isaura

Citxmech Darkman17 Tue, 11/21/2017 - 02:20 Permalink

Spent a lot of time in my youth in CA.  When I was working menial physical labor jobs there - the Mexicans from the old country worked their fucking asses-off in my experience.  The younger ones and the ones born here - not as much.  The worst though were the white kids.  Lazy as hell and entitled to boot.  If you have hard labor to do in the hot sun, 2 Mexicans will outperform 5 college kids, for sure.  Just saying... 

In reply to by Darkman17

Multi Wait What Tue, 11/21/2017 - 05:43 Permalink

C'mon, whatever your position is, there is not need to put down menial labor. All work is noble.Let's be honest too, to base the study in "self reported" data is pretty silly IMO. I'm a racist, but I've known quite some fellow white coworkers who, in casual converstaions, overstated their working efforts/contributions to projects by no small amount. So, take away what you want from this study.

In reply to by Wait What

land_of_the_few RafterManFMJ Tue, 11/21/2017 - 03:24 Permalink

"Whitey shrugged" - more like "White Russian scrammed". Because apparently there was some hazardous urgent work to be avoided, emigration was a little extreme, though ... but hey she got a jolly new life largely consisting of face-slapping her male co-workers, patronising them, stalking them and banging them. So, basically like a female Hollywood exec. :P

In reply to by RafterManFMJ

Never One Roach Laughing.Man Mon, 11/20/2017 - 23:54 Permalink

The Asian group IS very large and some work alot harder then others like commneted above. That's why we now see applications, esp in California, breaking down the Asian boxes into Chinese, japanese, etc so they can give AA preferential admission/hiring to certain Asians, but NOT to Chinese, japanese, Korean, etc.My friend said some applications in SF break the Asian category into 16 (SIXTEEN) subcategories and if you are Chinese you are thrown to the back of the bus.Therefore I am always surprised to see some Chinese people/politcians (like Liu) support the far lefties since they are stabbling their own Chinese people in the back.

In reply to by Laughing.Man

J. Peasemold G… Raffie Mon, 11/20/2017 - 23:41 Permalink

Thought Asians would be hardest working tbh....


Come on now whiteys, time to pull up your socks!Last on the list of 'non-work'? Get with the program and start slacking off, now. Pronto!I want to see you up the top of the list by the next survey.Where is your #WhitePride J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock

In reply to by Raffie