Free or Fast: WiFi on the Plane

Internet access has become so ubiquitous to many of us that we barely notice it until we don’t have it. At home, cable broadband or DSL quietly connects our phones, computers, TVs, and even—for some of us—our light switches to the world-wide-web and the vast wealth of information it holds. While out and about, our phones are connected through the cellular network to that very same informational hub. Even when all else fails, Starbucks and its ilk will happily keep you connected. However, one of the few remaining places where we seem to surrender our entitlement to the net is… Continue reading Free or Fast: WiFi on the Plane

Econ of the Anti-Vaxxer

On January 25th of this year, the state of Washington declared a state of emergency because of a measles outbreak.  Following this, and previously to this, vaccinations have been a large part of the local and national conversation. I have to start this post by saying that I am a biased source in the sense that I believe everyone should get vaccinated, but I am going to try to look at this topic from purely an economic standpoint. In order for vaccinations to be effective and prevent an outbreak, the vaccination rate needs to be about 90-95%. Unfortunately, vaccination rates Continue reading Econ of the Anti-Vaxxer

The Utility of Schadenfreude

Recently, in one of my economics classes, the professor decided to have us play a game theory scenario. The first interesting factor to know for context, is that the class consists of a minority of economics majors. The second factor is that the class consists of over 20 students (decently sized for a Puget Sound econ course). The game we played was a basic variable contribution mechanism game, with the class splitting into groups of around 3 and given the opportunity to contribute ‘tokens’ to a group pot to get points for the entire class or keep the ‘tokens’ to Continue reading The Utility of Schadenfreude

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

The Irrationality of Free

One of the books I’ve been reading for Economics of Happiness, the best connections class to make you happy (maybe except for the wine-tasting one) is Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely, who examines some of the incentives and day-to-day interactions we have, how they affect our decisions, and more specifically, how they nudge us towards irrational decisions. One idea that we can’t deal with very well is the idea of free, or costing zero. If something is free, or costs zero, our decision making about that thing changes considerably. Predictably Irrational discusses how when presented with an otherwise great deal Continue reading The Irrationality of Free


If you’ve spent any time at UPS, you’ve probably thought at some point, “Is there actually going to be anything good at the SUB today, or should I go off-campus?” While the connection between economics and going to the SUB may not be clear, just remember that economics is the study of how people make choices. I’m currently taking an Economics of Online Dating class (Econ 341), which has a large focus in economic model building. A couple weeks ago, we were asked to create a model of decision-making under risk. Risk is defined as a situation in which all possible outcomes and Continue reading SUB(stituting)?

Reflection on The Why Axis: the Role of Time Discounting in the Education Gap.

Two eeks ago I wrote about chapter 4 of The Why Axis. I hope you continue (or begin) to read along with us as we make our way through the book and enjoy it as much as we are! The authors do a great job relaying some tricky behavioral economic ideas while they tackle profound topics in a fun way. One such topic, the gap in childhood education between inner city kids and many wealthy even simply middle class kids, was central in the fourth chapter. I found Gneezy’s and List’s discussion provoking and I have given some thought to Continue reading Reflection on The Why Axis: the Role of Time Discounting in the Education Gap.

We Performed a Free Money Experiment, Results: Very Few Takers

Last Friday fellow blog writer Janne and I decided to run a little experiment. The idea was simple enough: offer free money to everyone and see if they take it. The results were not so simple: hardly anyone took our money. Now it leaves us wondering why. Let’s set up the circumstances. Janne and I began tabling outside the SUB at 10:30 and stayed there until 12:00. All that was on our table was a jar of coins and 1 dollar bills, as well as sizeable sign that read “Free Money, No Joke No questions” with an arrow pointing to Continue reading We Performed a Free Money Experiment, Results: Very Few Takers

The Why Axis Chapter 4: How Can Sad Silver Medalists and Happy Bronze Medalists Help Us Close the Achievement Gap

Gneezy and List take the book in a completely different direction in Chapter 4 when they use evidence from field experiments to suggest methods to reduce the infamous Achievement Gap in public schools. The authors begin by laying out the facts of the achievement gap, particularly between high income families and those living in inner cities. The U.S. spends the 5th most amount of money per capita on students – $11,467 – yet there is a 9% drop out rate for “low-income” students and drop-out rates of above 50% for inner city kids, compared to a low 2% rate for Continue reading The Why Axis Chapter 4: How Can Sad Silver Medalists and Happy Bronze Medalists Help Us Close the Achievement Gap

Going All Out on Fuel Efficiency

Have you ever been on the freeway, going 10 miles over the speed limit and laughing at all those suckers biting your dust? Well, I got news for you. They’re laughing right back, because your tank is emptying much faster than theirs. Let’s be honest, 10 above the speed limit is the real speed limit, so you don’t have to perform a benefit-cost analysis of whether speeding down I-5 at 70 is worth the risk of a ticket. Instead, you should be wondering whether the time saved going 70 instead of 60 (or dare I say 55) is worth the Continue reading Going All Out on Fuel Efficiency