Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Economics of Haircuts

Economist Bryan Caplan has posted an interesting question at his blog:
When is demand for haircuts higher? When short hair is in fashion, or long hair? Or is the relationship more complex?
When you talk about demand for haircuts, I think you can talk about two different things: the number of haircuts demanded from professional barbers and stylists or instead the amount of money spent on haircuts from professional barbers and stylists.

(Source: EconLog)

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

With the emphasis today’s society puts on fashion and appearance, even haircuts will never be as simple as “short and long”. The demand for haircuts will most likely stay the same no matter what style is in due to the fact that most people are never satisfied with what is basic. Those who dictate what’s in style in the world of fashion (designers, magazine editors, celebrities etc…) are certainly never the ones to settle with anything unoriginal. Often what’s considered “in” when it comes to hairstyles is determined by what you would see on high fashion runways therefore it is never anything less than over the top. So, when it comes to long hair, it will never be just “long hair”. Maybe long hair with layers or long hair with highlights or something but never just long hair period. And well when it comes you short hair, you don’t exactly “grow” short hair. It grows to become long and then you cut it. So the two different styles would probably come out equal when it came to number of cuts. The only other factor I can think of that would play into this would be upkeep. Yes hair does grow at the same rate relatively; however, it is often more noticeable on short hair when layers are out of whack. Also, because long hair grows to become even longer hair, it would be unecessary to have it trimmed as often if thats what was in style. Short hair unfortunately grows into long hair, not shorter hair, therefore if short hair was in style over long hair, it would require more cuts to keep it looking good.

Lauren

Anonymous said...

I think that the relationship is more complex than just short vs. long. Also, what is "in-style" varies from place to place. Short and Long hair styles both require attention--however, short hair does require additional upkeep, as slight changes in hair growth or length can be more obvious than in long hair. In encompassing the whole lot of "hair" one must include also those unnecessary additional touches applied. Many people I know dont go to the salon to get their hair cut because they just use a basic cut; however, when they go to fix their roots(get their hair highlighted), the convinence factor of just simply getting a cut at the salon is simply better. If "blonde" is in style, than more brunettes will get high-lights, creating more trips to the salon, and more haircuts. If brown is in style, i think that less hair cuts will happen because having blonde roots in brown hair is unusual, so therefore people will make less trips to the salon. I don't think what's "in style" has an affect on the number of hair cuts demanded. I also think that the number of hair salons in an area will determine the demand locally, as convience is definatly a factor.
-Alena (i didnt like my first post)

Anonymous said...

First of all, I agree with Alena and Lauren both. Long hair and short hair is never just long hair and just short hair. Maintaining and styling hair, whether long or short, always take alot of up keep. Here is where I think differently. Gender plays a big role in this question. Guys seem to always have short hair no matter what the trend is. I would make the generalization that mainly girls are the ones who follow trends and the "in" style. If long hair is said to be in, guys will probably still get there hair cut short and girls would try to grow their hair out long, still getting hair cuts to maintain the "cool", long style. When short hair is in demand, I would think that more people would be getting hair cuts to get the new "in" style. Overall, I think that hair cut demands for short and long hair would probably equal out pretty close, but I wouldn't doubt if short hair cuts creates a higher demand for hair cuts. Mainly due to gender roles.
Morgan Hale

Anonymous said...

To put a guy's perspective on the issue of haircuts, I definitely think haircut demand is gender biased. First of all the way about guys and girls go to get their haircut is totally different. Guys look in the mirror one morning, notice their hair is long, and go get a haircut that afternoon. Girls have to make appointments in advance and make an event out of going to the salon. Haircut demand for men is fairly constant varying only a little by the season. (Fewer haircuts in the winter and more in the summer.) Also the price of these haircuts is fairly constant. Girls on the other hand may go to the salon and choose a completely different haircut each visit. They are willing to spend more money and are much more likely to follow hair trends.

-Chip Burge

Anonymous said...

i think that the demand for haircuts is fairly constant. it's one of those services that is as necessary as going to the grocery store. regardless of style, people will get haircuts at approximately the same intervals. i mean, hair grows at a fairly constant rate no matter how long it is. so either way, short or long, requires regular "maintanance" to keep it from looking like crap. so no matter which way you look at it, an individuals hair growth rate is the main factor in haircut necessity.

-Tyler McCaslin

Anonymous said...

I definitely agree with Lauren and what she said about the length of hair or style not mattering. I think that dying of hair is what determines the amounts of time people come back to receive more cuts. If a hair stylists pushes for someone to get hilights or even dye in general then the customer has to come back on a regular basis as their roots start to grow out. People always are worried about their hair looking natural so as soon as roots start to show they feel it necessary to go back and get their hair redyed. People want [mostly girls] to be in style yet looking natural as much as possible so more trips to the salon it is.

-Danielle Lunetta

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