Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Parents are Economists #2: Don't Drink & Drive

My parents wanted to make sure that I would never drink & drive.  On top of education about the disaster that can be caused by DUI, they also structured incentives to make it a dominant strategy for me to avoid drinking & driving.

The rule in our house went like this:  if I were ever in a situation where I felt that I should not drive home, all I had to do was call my parents and they would come and get me.  No questions asked, no threat of punishment.  Let me repeat:  I would NOT get in trouble for getting wasted as long as I was responsible and called for a ride home.  On the other hand, if I were to drink & drive, then consequences would be severe if they found out.  There is a high probability that they would find out since I live at home and my mom's nose could serve as a breathalyzer.  They would be alerted to my return home by the alarm, so there's not a good way that I could have hidden intoxication upon return home.  Even if I could have hidden intoxication with probability p, driving drunk would impose other costs on myself and others and I would always have the dominant strategy to avoid drunk driving.
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