In separate posts, Tyler Cowen wonders why Heinz ketchup and Miller beer remain so much more popular in their home towns of Pittsburgh and Chicago* than elsewhere in the country and whether it’s a good sign if cops frequent a particular restaurant.
As to the first, he offers two competing alternatives: “Do area consumers develop the brand habit and pass it down across the generations? Or is the brand from a particular area better suited for people of that area in the first place, perhaps for reasons which are demographic or ethnic in nature and somewhat persistent through time?” I’d guess the former; people get used to brands and simply associate them with the product.
Since Cowen doesn’t see cops in the restaurants he likes, he figures they’re not a reliable quality indicator. But that’s a bit unfair. Presumably, cops eat in places that are 1) relatively inexpensive and 2) where they can get served quickly. Beat cops tend to make less money and have less schedule flexibility during their working hours than economics professors.
Tying the two stories together, I’m guessing cops don’t drink a lot of premium beer, either.
*Commenters are pointing out that Miller is based in Milwaukee. Cowen doesn’t assert otherwise, merely that it was introduced in Chicago quite early and remains popular there. I made it a “hometown” beer out of sentence parallelism rather than accuracy.
UPDATE: Dave Schuler notes that police officers make more than most of us think, pointing out that “a Chicago police officer starts in the middle income quintile and that many, many Chicago police officers are in the fourth or fifth income quintiles.” In follow-up discussion in his comments section, he adds some national figures:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics . . . the middle 50% earning from $35,600 and $59,880 with a median of $47,190 in local government.
Then again, if the comparison is Tyler Cowen, I’d note that BLS figures for postsecondary eduction show that “The middle 50 percent earned between $39,610 and $80,390” The median salary for professors at American University (DC) is $93,850. At Cowen’s George Mason (Fairfax, VA), it’s $92,000.
So, I’m guessing your average full professor of economics is still dining more extravagently than your average uniformed policeman. But, no, cops aren’t relegated to fast food joints by virtue of their meager earnings.