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Grateful to Not Have Been Priced Out of the Labor Market

Duke University economics professor Ed Tower sent to me this morning the following e-mail, which I share below in full (with Ed’s kind permission):

When I got a job teaching economics at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, my wife, pregnant with our first to be born, and fresh with a MA in Classics from Harvard wanted to teach Latin at the university. She knew there wasn’t a big demand for Latin instructors, especially those who are going to have to take some time off in the middle of the semester, delivering offspring.  She wrote the Classics department chair, saying I want to teach for you and  you don’t have to pay me.  She was hired at her reservation wage of zero. The  classics department invited us to great  parties. The next year the Classics department paid her. Her experience teaching  at the university level enhanced her appeal for her subsequent career teaching at the Carolina Friends School and the Chapel Hill NC public schools, where she taught the young woman who delivered the Latin oration at her graduation from Harvard.    I suspect the university teaching helped  my wife get  a Fulbright to study one summer in Rome.  She maintained a warm friendship with the department  chair for the rest of his life. Had the University of Auckland been encumbered by minimum wages and fears of law suits for treating women unfairly, our two years in New Zealand would have been considerably less satisfying.  Ed Tower