Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Monday, December 06, 2004


A good friend recently asked whether it is appropriate for retirees to look for part-time work in our community: "But won't it deprive some young person of a job if a retiree takes it?"

Arrgghhh. It is a real struggle, trying to explain the importance of real output and growth, not jobs. It is especially difficult in a community where young people, having difficulty finding jobs they like, tend move to larger population centres. For some reason, people in these smaller communities see the out-migration as something bad, not as a welcome opportunity for young people to increase their earnings (and I don't think that's just because the out-migration causes a comparative reduction in demand for real estate).

If retirees would like to work and are barred from doing so, then society ends up with less output. When retirees work, real output and real incomes go up, on average. Unfortunately, there are just too many people who would rather have a smaller pie in the mistaken belief that recutting the slices will make some favoured group better off. It won't, at least not for long.

The situation is analogous to my earlier piece on hurricanes. Also see EconLog on the same subject. And Cafe Hayek has a related (and very depressing) posting about security jobs in airports.

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