Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The New York Times > National > At Harvard, an Unseemly Display of Wealth or Merely a Clean Room?

Here's an interesting story that becomes even more interesting when analyzed economically. Basically, the New York Times writer and people she quotes look at it as a sociopolitical story. If you try it from an economic viewpoint, it comes out a little different.

Scenario 1: lazy students clean their own rooms irregularly, or, as the story notes, almost never. Benefit to them, no time wasted. Downside - living in filth, time wasted cleaning.

Scenario 2: lazy students pay commercial services to clean their rooms. Benefit to students - cleanliness, more time for studies and beer drinking. Downside, must pay DormAid money, but if student is more productive than would have been cleaning for same period of time, then it's a benefit. Benefit to DormAid - money. Benefit to DormAid contractors (i.e. maids) - money and employment (barring concerns about low wages).

Which would you choose?