Thursday, May 26, 2005

Are American workers victims of an externality? :: Cafe Hayek

...merely imagining its existence and describing in a theoretically coherent way why and how it might come to be and persist is a very poor reason for believing that such externalities do, in fact, exist. Such imaginings are certainly inadequate grounds for suggesting policies to deal with these alleged externalities.

You see, it's too easy to imagine externalities.
Instead, look for alternative explanations other than externalities before succumbing to the easy answer:

...because Americans have more and better household appliances, such as automatic dishwashers and clothes dryers, than do Europeans -- and because Americans have larger homes (hence more storage space) and are better able to shop at supermarkets and big-box retailers -- Americans probably spend less time working at home than do Europeans.

I don’t know if Americans’ greater access to time-saving appliances, more household storage space, and larger retailers helps to explain these transatlantic differences in time spent on the (formal) job, but the possibility seems real enough.Now, that's a story which is both pedestrian and inspired.


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