Monday, December 31, 2007

Economic Naturalist Essay Topics

I've been getting a lot of hits from searches for "economic naturalist" that lead here. I think searchers are looking for potential topics on which to write essays...I may add more in the future, but here's a starter list:

Why do some fast food restaurants offer you a free meal if you don't get a receipt?

Why do good friends make bad roommates?

Why is locally farmed, organic food more expensive when it uses less fertilizer and does not have to be shipped as far or as long?

Why do students get discounts for movie tickets but not for popcorn?

Why did the tobacco industry support a ban on cigarette advertising?

Why might pesticides be good for your health?

Why is there a light in the fridge, but not the freezer?

Why do drive-up ATMs have braille on the keys?

Why are sell-out concert (or sporting event) tickets, which will be scalped later, not priced higher to start with?

Why do pimps dress the way they do?

Why do some cars have the fuel filler door on the driver's side while others have it on the passenger's side?

Why are the portraits on coins done in profile while those on paper money are in full face?
Why are newspapers, but not soft drinks, sold in vending machines that allow customers to take more units than they pay for?
Why do many bars charge patrons for water but give them peanuts for free?
Why do new cars costing $20,000 rent for $40 a day, while tuxedos costing only $500 rent for around $90?
Why does an accident in the northbound lanes of a divided highway cause a traffic jam in the southbound lanes?
Why is the price of gasoline really NOT too high?
Why does the government pay farmers not to grow crops?
Why would everyone be worse off if everyone was given a million dollars?
Why do you park in a driveway and drive in a parkway? (I actually don't think that there's a good economic explanation of this)
Why might vehicle safety equipment such as airbags and seatbelts kill more people than they save?
Why might a politician vote against giving himself a pay raise?
Why does the stock market offer a higher average rate of return on investment than bonds?
If we have so much wealth in the world, why does poverty still exist?
Why do many people buy larger houses when they retire and their children leave home?
Why are servers paid more than assistant chefs at high-end restaurants?
Why are the least productive workers in a work group within a firm typically paid more than the value of what they produce, while the most productive workers are paid less?
Why do taxi drivers quit early on rainy days?
Why does Apple sell its black laptops for $150 more than for otherwise identically configured white ones?
Why should farmers hate years when the weather is great for farming?

Note: many of these hail from Robert H. Frank's book The Economic Naturalist.
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