January 18, 2008

Economics of beggars in India (Cowen Highlight 2)

While reading Tyler Cowen’s “Discover Your Inner Economist” I cam across several interesting ideas. One idea that I came across made me think. The idea of playing “hard to get” and the way it relates to economics. As I was reading through I became increasingly frustrated because I felt like I was reading some guys ramblings rather than a book that would actually help me to discover my inner economist. The book then went into pick-up lines. It discussed a study in which different lines had different effects on women.
“Pickup lines involving jokes, empty compliments, and sexual references did not impress raters. Pickup lines revealing helpfulness, generosity, athleticism, culture, and wealth received reasonable ratings.”

I knew that this story had to have something to do with economics and so I pondered for a minute, then it hit me…duh. The idea is about sacristy. In an open market place sacristy holds value just as men or women who hold some sort of scarcity hold value. People who have value are desired but there is a limited amount of people who possess value (given that each person has a different idea of what value is).

Going back to the pickup lines… Jokes, empty compliments, and sexual references can be made by any person whether they are a loser or not. The pickup lines revealing helpfulness, generosity, wealth, and so on portray value because not every person is wealthy, generous, or athletic.

Once past the pickup lines, playing “hard to get” came into play, a sense of knowing when to back off so the other person wants you more. For example, when you try to kiss a girl and she refuses, you may feel down at first but you will eventually want it even more. The idea of playing “hard to get” is a litter harder for me to see the relationship to economics but I guess that fact that something would be hard to get would imply that it is in fact scarce, and scarcity means value.

I don’t think I will be thinking about this chapter or scarcity next time I am on a date with a women but it is certainly an interesting way of looking at portraying value to the opposite sex.

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