Posts Tagged ‘economics’

When do they tell me the answers?

October 1, 2010 1 comment

Economics 100It’s a big world out there–by “out there” I mean off campus too–but sometimes even just the department seems limitless. I’m an economics major, and I’ve finally made it to my last year of my undergrad degree. When I think about it, it’s a scary proposition: I only have one year left to figure out what everything in first year meant?! Yikes! I’d better get started…

As I sit through lecture after lecture I am beginning to wonder if there really are any answers (do those prisoners ever learn to cooperate??), or if it’s all been some trick to keep us coming back. Well, I intend to find out a thing or two before I graduate (is that too much to ask?) and luckily I have a good place to start: my honours thesis.

This year, eleven lucky students were accepted into the honours program. “Lucky” is turning out to mean “busy” because we have lots of work to do. I have to write a thesis by April, and for me, being the keener that I am, that means I don’t have to just write any old undergrad thesis, I’ve got to write the thesis. So, here’s what I’ve got so far: I’m going to be looking at the effects of social incentives on the free-rider problem in common-pool resources. To bring you up to speed, I’ve tried to map this out:

Effects: I don’t mean personal effects, or special effects; I mean the thing that happens as the result of something else (which could be special, but try not to get confused).

Social incentives: We’re going to guilt you into it! No, no, not really. Some of the social incentives I’m looking at are the power of acknowledgment, the power of working in a group, and the incentives of non-monetary gains (such as coupons–who doesn’t like coupons??).

Free-rider problem: No, not rough rider–free rider! This is someone who benefits from something without contributing to it. For example, the dog from the little red hen story. Do you remember that story? “Who will help me bake the bread?” asked the little red hen. “Not I,” said the lazy dog. “Who will help me eat the bread?” asked the little red hen. “I,” said the lazy dog.

Common-pool resources: Something that is owned by everyone. Such as the fish in a lake. The problem is, it’s pretty hard to stop people from fishing, and if everyone fishes as much as they can, there are no more fish.

Okay, so now you’re up to speed on what my topic is: I’m trying to guilt the lazy dog into only fishing a socially-optimal amount.

It’s a pretty tough question.

Class is calling–time to dive into the world of econometrics!