18 December 2005
By STEPHEN J. DUBNER and STEVEN D. LEVITT
Published: December 11, 2005
Analyzing a Sex Survey
What is a price?
Unless you're an economist, you probably think of a price as simply the amount you pay for a given thing - the number of dollars you surrender for, let's say, Sunday brunch at your favorite neighborhood restaurant. But to an economist, price is a much broader concept. The 20 minutes you spend waiting for a table is part of the price. So, too, is any nutritional downside of the meal itself: a cheeseburger, as the economist Kevin Murphy has calculated, costs $2.50 more than a salad in long-term health implications. There are moral and social costs to tally as well - for instance, the look of scorn delivered by your vegan dining partner as you order the burger. While the restaurant's menu may list the price of the cheeseburger at $7.95, that is clearly just the beginning.....