Everyday Economics: Not Just Supply and Demand

As an economics student, few things make me happier than applying economics outside of the classroom. While I admittedly over do it (sorry Sara, Doug, and Jenna) I still love finding examples in everyday life. My favorite definition of economics is, “Economics is the social science concerned with how individuals, institutions, and society make choices under conditions of scarcity.” This is definitely different than most people’s idea of economics, which tends to be something like, “the branch of knowledge concerned with the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth.” In this article, I’m planning to briefly summarize many of the ideas I have had Continue reading Everyday Economics: Not Just Supply and Demand

Why Should(n’t) You Study Economics? (Part 2)

In my last post, I outlined some of the stereotypes associated with econ majors and why I personally decided to major in economics. For this post, however, I am planning to address research and opinions which say that economics makes you a bad person, or more specifically, ” to exhibit a range of “debased” moral behavior and attitudes” (Etzioni, 2015). For this post I will be citing some relevant academic literature, explaining via examples, and trying to correct what I view as a fundamental misunderstanding of economics. Much of the sociological research, as well as a number of blog posts, describe economists and Continue reading Why Should(n’t) You Study Economics? (Part 2)

Why Should(n’t) You Study Economics? (Part 1)

Last Friday, I registered for my last undergraduate semester, and now I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. This made me start thinking about how I ended up as an economics major, given that I spent my first year here assuming I’d be a chemistry major. (I guess making that big of an assumption should’ve been a clue) I think the main two factors were a fun, engaging economics teacher in high school, and a class called IPE 201, with Lisa Nunn. I ended up joining IPE 201: Introduction to International Political Economy, a week into the semester, after a brief foray Continue reading Why Should(n’t) You Study Economics? (Part 1)

Take Craft Back: Beer Idealism or Crafty Marketing?

If you are connected with the world of beer, brewing, or hops, you may have heard of the campaign “Take Craft Back,” a campaign organized by the Brewer’s Association, a trade group of brewers focused on craft and home brewing, to buy out Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI). ABI is a Belgian-Brazilian-American brewing conglomerate which controls 70% of the US beer market alongside Molson Coors. ABI is currently valued at $213 billion, which is the alleged goal of the Take Craft Back campaign, which they describe as the world’s largest crowdfunding effort. On their website, they estimate it would take $653.57 from everyone in Continue reading Take Craft Back: Beer Idealism or Crafty Marketing?

Rap Your Mind Around These Reservation Prices

About a year after I declared my economics major, my friend Austin introduced me to a piece of the internet I’d never before seen…economics raps. The first one he showed me was called “Fear the Boom and Bust” and features Keynes and Hayek battling over how to respond to economic crises. The creators, John Papola and economist Russ Roberts, actually ended up producing a second video, featuring lyrics such as: [Keynes] We could’ve done better had we only spent more. Too bad that only happens when there’s a world war… [Hayek] The lesson I’ve learned: it’s how little we know The world is complex, not Continue reading Rap Your Mind Around These Reservation Prices

Time for a Change: Americans Support a Carbon Tax

Let’s start this article off by saying, while I can’t say that scientists have proved climate change is real (nobody can really prove anything, even economists and scientists), I think the evidence is convincing enough that even if only 97% of scientists believe in anthropogenic climate change, we should probably still do something about it. 81% of climate economics experts believe that a market solution is critical, given that climate change has been called “the greatest market failure the world has seen,” by Nicholas Stern, an economist and climate researcher. Essentially, there are three economic problems occurring with regard to climate Continue reading Time for a Change: Americans Support a Carbon Tax

Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem: Can We Hit a Societal Bullseye?

Many students have expressed discontent with our current voting system, especially as it relates to the ideas of “choosing between two bad options” or “wasting your vote” on a third candidate. Many articles, bills, and petitions have called for electoral reform, along with celebrities such as Lady Gaga. In this article I will go over the economic idea of a social choice rule, or mechanism which describes how we can move from individual preferences to group preferences, or social preferences. For a primer on the economic idea of preferences, see last week’s post, Accounting for Taste: Ice Cream Preferences. One of the best articles Continue reading Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem: Can We Hit a Societal Bullseye?

Accounting for Taste: Ice Cream Preferences

As a social scientist, I would just like to come right out and acknowledge my bias. Between chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream, chocolate is my favorite, followed by vanilla, then strawberry.This article is intended to explain a fundamental concept in microeconomics, consumer preferences, using a sweet example. To model consumer behavior, economists look at how consumers make comparisons between goods. Briefly, some notes on notation. If I said, “I like chocolate better than vanilla ice cream,” it would be written as Chocolate ≻ Vanilla. (Note, ≻ is not the same as >, which is used for ordering preferences) If I Continue reading Accounting for Taste: Ice Cream Preferences

Up to Date: Market Thickness in Dating

The motivation for this article came from a heterosexual, female friend saying, “Why are there no good guys here [at UPS]? All the good guys are either already dating someone or not interested in women!” One explanation for the seeming lack of “good” guys could be due to the general gender imbalance of higher education, and especially private institutions. Here at UPS, we’ve seen a similar trend. According to the Office of Institutional Research’s Common Data Set, we have seen our female-male ratio slide closer to 60-40 over the past few years. (This obviously fails to account for people not Continue reading Up to Date: Market Thickness in Dating

Fall of Duty: Video Games vs. The Labor Market

As technology has advanced, we have seen the effect it can have on labor demand, especially for lower-skilled workers. Erik Hurst, an economist at the University of Chicago, decided to look at how technological change influenced the other side of the market, or labor supply. Hurst, along with his co-authors Aguiar, Bils, and Charles released a working paper called .Leisure Luxuries and the Labor Supply of Young Men examining the impact of video games and other recreational computer activities on the willingness of young men to act as labor suppliers. A Theory of Individual Labor Supply One way which economists have looked at Continue reading Fall of Duty: Video Games vs. The Labor Market