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 . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Loitering in Stores

There is rumour going around that women who go into labour while shopping in major stores receive gifts from those stores.

IT IS the rumour no well dressed expectant mother could afford to ignore: Harvey Nichols gives £500 gift vouchers to pregnant women who go into labour while shopping in the store.

...Now Harvey Nichols has been forced to publicly deny the "urban myth" amid concern at the number of women apparently intent on giving birth in their St Andrew Square shop.

Last night a spokesman for the company tried to pour cold water on the rumours. "We have first-aiders on site but they are not trained in childbirth and therefore this rumour is a concern to us.

So the rumour isn't true, right?



Harvey Nichols’ spokesman said the company was now in a difficult position: it did not want to encourage pregnant women to give birth in the store and yet it would not want to be stingy in the unlikely event that a mother did start to give birth in store.

"If a woman does go into labour we would consider giving her some vouchers if her intentions were not for it to deliberately happen in our store," he said.

Suggestions that the "urban myth" might not be such a myth after all are backed up by the comments of other Scottish stores.

Mothercare and Marks and Spencers said although they didn’t
have a policy on gifts for mothers going into labour it was up to the discretion of individual branch managers if they wanted to give a present of baby clothes and goods.

This non-denial denial is not likely to do much to squelch the rumour. And, as BrianF said when he sent me this link, "People respond to incentives."

If people respond to incentives, I wonder how many women get pregnant in order to collect the gift certificates. More seriously, I wonder how many couples have altered their family planning decisions in light of this information.
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