Ryan Hamilton — Making it in New York

 

One of the underlying assumptions of the improvements to society from ease of migration comes from the fact that the models assume homogenous works. While there may be gains to productivity from easier migration, it doesn’t mean that workers will necessarily adapt to their surroundings. In Borjas’s book, We Wanted Workers, he points out the implications of psychic costs on movers and argues that it’s not fair to assume all workers who move will be as productive as they were at their source. This bit from Ryan Hamilton echoes that sentiment that allowing for migration may not mean productivity gains will occur if workers are unable to adjust to their new surroundings.

John Mulaney — Majoring in English

 

After receiving a donation request from his undergraduate university, Mulaney questions the purpose of college. After spending $120,000 to major in English, he realizes that he may not have actually gotten out of it what he thought he would (human capital), but instead received a lot of consumptive benefits. He doesn’t mention the signalling aspect of a college degree, but it’s implied through his analysis on the lack of training he received.

John Mulaney — An XXL Shirt

 

 

John receives an XXL shirt as a child, which was pretty useless to him. His mom suggests that he use it as a sleep shirt, but he really wants to make a comment to the person who gave him the gift. His mom explains that it’s rude to make comments about people who give your gifts, but John is quick to notice that the inefficiencies of receiving gifts that aren’t really usable.

Jerry Seinfeld — Morning Guy

In one of Seinfeld’s monologues he covers the time inconsistencies between people’s decisions late at night versus the next day.  In his latest Netflix special, Jerry Before Seinfeld, goes through the bit again with some updates. While we assume people to be rational in many models, people do odd things with respect to their own-selves that they may not do if they were forward thinking. This time inconsistency creates a lot of opportunities for discussions of procrastination, overconfidence biases, and other behavioral anomalies.

If you want more economics and Seinfeld, check out YadaYadaYadaEcon.com!

Chris Rock — Break Up

Chris Rock discusses his recent divorces and encourages couples in love to make sure they hold tight to one another. He does warn that if you’re thinking about leaving then you should probably leave immediately, perhaps after the show. A lot of people stay in relationships they don’t like being in because they’ve been together for so long, but that’s just irrational!

Chris Rock — High School Orientation

Chris Rock describes taking his daughter to her high school orientation and hearing the vice principle talk about how students can be anything that they want to be. While optimistic, Rock points out that it’s more appropriate to tell them that they can be whatever they’re good at as long as someone is hiring. It turns out Chris Rock and stand up comedy has a lot of insights on economics.

Thanks to Kim Holder and ECONShots for clip idea!

 

MedicoreFilms — Free Hugs

My students favorite clip when discussing product differentiation is this clip from MedicoreFilms where a guy offers Deluxe Hugs for $2 more. One of his opening lines best illustrates the concept of monopolistic competition:

Deluxe guy: How’s businesses?

Free guy: Mine are free, this isn’t a business.

Deluxe guy: Different people want different stuff, so it’s cool.

Businesses can differentiate their products by quality, style, location, etc. The guy offering deluxe hugs is trying to fill a portion of the market from people willing to pay more for “better” hugs.

Ryan Hamilton — Canceling a Gym Membership

Ryan goes through the steps he had to complete in order to cancel his gym membership. By requiring all of the additional steps to opt out of the membership, it decreases the likelihood that individuals will actually cancel their membership and instead pay the monthly fee despite not wanting the service. Ryan even discusses how he’s fallen victim to the sunk cost fallacy because he walked by his gym on the way to purchase envelopes for the letter, but he was already “in too deep” to stop by and cancel in person.

Adam Ruins Everything — Unemployment Rate

 

 

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.

Adam reviews the requirements for individuals to be considered unemployment under the most traditional classification of unemployment (U3). While he mentions that this isn’t a perfect measure, he doesn’t mention the other types of unemployment. This could be a good introduction to the different types of unemployment counted by the BLS.

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