The Economics of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

In case you’ve lived under a rock over the summer, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been a campaign to encourage donation to the ALS Association, an organization that provides support to those afflicted by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The Ice Bucket Challenge has raised an enormous amount of money, and has many people talking about the economic principles behind donation – whether they realize it or not. First, Vox helped to dispel the notion that people shouldn’t participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge because it’s a waste of water. In fact, compared to productive activities which use water, the ice Continue reading The Economics of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The Wrong Track

In Simpler: The Future of Government, Cass Sunstein sets the behavioral economics stage by framing the impacts of either staying the course or effortfully taking an action. Often, the choices we make can be thought of as either “do nothing” (and stay the course) or “do something” and decide to engage in a particular action. So the decision to eat a brownie might be a decision between saying the course (not eating because I’m ok with the status quo) and taking the action (chowing down). Many of us are particularly inclined to do … well … nothing. This effect, the status quo bias, has been well-documented. Since it Continue reading The Wrong Track

Gender Inequality in Education

Gender discrimination can be see in a number of ways, and often times these social barriers lead to market failures. Gender inequality in education has been shown to stunt economic growth and development. A recent article in the Economist provides empirical findings from Britain’s Department of International Development that show that an increase in enrollment for women in education caused and increase in annual income per head. Björkman-Nyqvist claims that in times of economic hardship, girls are more likely to be removed from schooling than boys. The author uses evidence from Uganda showing a relationship between average rainfall and school enrollment Continue reading Gender Inequality in Education