The Pajama Game — 7 1/2 Cents

Asking for a raise is tough, but even a modest raise in wages can have a huge impact on worker salaries. In this scene from The Pajama Game, we see how a 7.5 cent raise can impact a worker’s wage. The cast goes through the calculations of what they could earn with additional income, including an automatic washing machine, a year supply of gasoline, and a vacuum cleaner.

Assessment idea: This is a neat opportunity to calculate real wages and see what 7.5 cents would be worth today versus 1953. The BLS has a calculator so you don’t have to wait!

Looking for more: Do you want to see more economics in Broadway shows? Check out BroadwayEconomics.com

Thanks to Mark Sammons from the University of Arizona for sending this clip in!

Adam Ruins Funerals

When a loved one dies, and we are in a state of grief, we often aren’t making the most informed decisions. Funeral homes know this and use this fact to charge higher prices. They can do so because our price elasticity of demand for end life services is high. There are few reasons for this. First, there is not enough time to “shop around” for better pricing on the goods and services provided as a funeral is often expected to take place quickly after a person’s death. Second, there is high asymmetric information about exactly what is actually necessity and what is more a luxury (the clip pokes fun of this with the casket featuring WiFi). Last, there are no close substitutes for end of life services – you only have two options: burial or cremation. For these reasons, we are less sensitive to price when shopping for end of life services for our loved ones and will pay a higher prices consequently.’

Thanks to Erin Yetter for the submission and description! Follow her on Twitter!

Adam Ruins Everything is a half-hour informational comedy were host, Adam Conover, debunks popular myths. Each episode is divided into 3 segments with some common theme. In the Spring of 2018, James Tierney and I sat down to go through all three seasons of Adam Ruins Everything to pick out examples in each episode that could be used in an economics course. If you’re curious about the paper, you can read about it here.

Le Trèfle Paper — Emma

The digital revolution can replace a lot of items that traditional paper was used for, liking color pages, sticky notes, books, or puzzles, but it can’t replace toilet paper. Substitute goods are at the discretion of the consumers with some items being “perfect substitutes” and others being some gradient of substitutes. Digital toilet paper isn’t a very good substitute for the real stuff.

Thanks to Dr. Michele Pickett for the clip!

Popeyes — Quantity vs Quality

Popeye’s argues that economics can’t explain why their chicken tastes so good. The professor looks at the inverse relationship between quality and quantity, so maybe this is actually a marketing class?

Young Sheldon — Haggling Skills

 

Meemaw is having a garage sale and have asked Missy and George to help out. When George questions the pricing decisions of the junk for sale, Meemaw explains that she starts prices high so that people can negotiate and feel like they saved some money, which is another way of arguing that she’s trying to let the customers experience some consumer surplus. When Missy & George try to negotiate for better pay, they realize that it may not work out.

 

South Park — Necessities & Substitutes

 

The economy of South Park has dwindled and Randy has some suggestions on they can survive the economy’s wrath. He recommends substituting many of their everyday items for cheaper alternatives, and returning back to the basics: water, bread, and margaritas. During recessions, income and wealth take a dip and people are unable to afford many of the items they may have once consumed. This shift allows for a discussion of inferior and normal goods.

Thanks to Zoe Cook-Nadel for the suggestion!

South Park — Substituting Inferior Goods

 

Now that the South Park economy has dwindled, citizens are left to wonder why the economy has turned sour. Randy suggests a variety of methods of ways everyone can cut back. Without realizing it, he lists a variety of inferior goods for the citizens, which increase demand from decreases in income, like from a recession.

Thanks to Zoe Cook-Nadel for the suggestion!

South Park — Failing Economy

 

Stan’s dad discusses why he believes the economy in South Park is failing. Modeled after the Great Recession, Stan’s dad believes that too many people were buying unnecessary items on credit, but then not being able to pay for those items. Since times are tough, dinner isn’t exactly what the family is expecting. Even though his father believes people wasted a lot of money on things they don’t need, he proceeds to make himself a margarita using his newest blender.

Thanks to Zoe Cook-Nadel for the suggestion!

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