Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Dear Economist column

(A post from Kroger)
Tim Harford (we are reading a chapter out of his book this week) has a column in Financial Times called "Dear Economist," where people write him about personal problems and he answers with his economic perspective. Here is an example of a question that he recently published:

Dear Economist,

Recently I was waiting, baby in pushchair, for the bus. The driver refused to let me on unless the pushchair was folded up, then sped on leaving me stranded. It would only have taken a moment to fold up the pushchair. Is this efficient?

Mary McLaren, Hackney

What do you guys think? Again, make sure it is from the economic perspective of efficiency. I will post Harford's response soon so you can see how your response compares and whether you agree.


jessica wetstone said...

The bus driver made the efficient decision for him, so the costs of picking her up must have outweighed the benefit, which would have been her fare. So I guess he didn't want the hassle of helping her on and off the bus, wasting time and costing him an opportunity cost of other potential customers. Or maybe he just doesn't like babies.

Anonymous said...

I don't think this is a very efficient decision. The bus driver would have gotten the woman's fare, and the few seconds that it would have taken the woman to fold her stroller could not possibly have been that important to the driver. It would have been more efficient for the bus driver to not stop at all when he saw that the woman had a stroller (unless there were other people at the bus stop) than it was for him to tell her she can't get on with a stroller and then not wait for her to fold it up. He's probably just a jerk.