Saturday, April 21, 2007

Questions Economists Ask Every Day

I was amused and entertained by this article about economists by Laura Blumenfeld in the Washington Post today. I take it as only a semi-serious look at an admitedly odd profession, and I think it would be a stretch to think that most economists are constantly going through life this way... but I must confess that I do sometimes find the same types of observations and questions popping in to my head at the most everyday occurrences.
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos -- The plane came from the north and landed near warm sand. Rachel Friedberg, a Brown University economist, stepped out, holding her black wool pea coat, squinting.

"Skin cancer. Dehydration. Sunstroke," she muttered. "Sand sticking to your body." The New England professor had arrived for vacation in Turks and Caicos, one of the Caribbean's fastest-growing economies. "Why would people on purpose, on purpose, go where the land ends, and stare at undifferentiated nothingness? Think of the opportunity cost of that time."

Lucid blue water makes most travelers forget about work. But for Friedberg, economics infuses everything: the equilibrium price of conch shells; the asset-value implications of Bruce Willis's beach compound; the labor market impact of a Filipino, rather than a Bahamian, massage therapist digging her oiled thumbs into Friedberg's sacrum.
Mostly, though, the piece made me wish that I could think of a way to get my own research to take me to the Turks & Caicos...


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