So I was thinking about the question of the value of privacy, and it occurred to me that there may be an interesting natural experiment we can observe, and that is national security clearances in the US. For this post, I’ll assume that security clearances work for their primary purpose, which is to keep foreign intelligence agents out of sensitive jobs. But articles like this indicate that it’s worth a $5-15,000 salary premium.
Part of the premium is getting a clearance for an employee is slow and expensive, as this Govcentral article says, “…it can take noncleared employees between six months and two years to receive a new clearance — an unacceptable time frame for many organizations that have significant contracts to deliver in the near term. In addition, the clearance process often is very expensive.”
But even with that issue, has the number of jobs requiring a clearance gone up that quickly as to create that degree of salary imbalance? At some point, the number of cleared people should catch up with the surge in government employment. At that point, the difference between a cleared and uncleared employee is down to (1) the cost of getting a clearance and (2) the market impact of having your life examined and judged by strangers.
Is that $1,000 a year for being unable to select the strangers?