The economics of college life

 The parking situation on campus reflects the concepts of economic theory. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

The parking situation on campus reflects the concepts of economic theory. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

Diminishing Returns of Weed

I have been dying on this hill for a couple of years now and have gotten serious pushback when I bring it up, so please nobody freak out. In my time at UConn, I have seen an alarming amount of wasted weed because of the population’s inability to understand diminishing returns.

Diminishing returns, in the case of weed consumption, means that as one takes more and more hits, their utility (height) from each hit also decreases. The idea is displayed graphically below, but in simpler terms, the difference between your first and second hit is far greater than the difference between your ninth and tenth. This is due to the increased strength of weed in recent years to the point that people are now smoking what feels like a government-sponsored bioweapon. We can’t be the characters in “Dazed and Confused” who took down joints single-handedly because that was 1976 when weed was not close to as strong as it is today. Waste happens because those who are starting to plateau around nine or ten still take more hits, but could wait until they are no longer high and get far greater utility from these hits at a later time.

Scarce Parking

Parking at UConn is worse than when you have to greet someone with heavy stuff in your hand and can’t put it down quickly. You gotta kinda like elbow bump or maybe a knuckle touch if you play it smoothly, but you can’t always be that lucky. Regardless, parking is terrible. Scarcity happens when there is not enough of a good to satisfy the whole population. Students cannot have a car on campus before junior year because of this problem.

Productivity: The Story of Derrick and Tracy

Basement, Mid-summer, 2017. A conversation has somehow ended up on the topic of missing lectures at school. My friend (who has asked to be called Derrick for confidentiality purposes) declares, “Me and my friend (who Derrick has decided to name Tracy) have a GoogleDoc for notes and we rotate who goes to lecture.” Everyone, including myself, nodded in agreement as if to say this idea was airtight.

I now do not believe this idea is good, because it does not follow the concept of productivity. The productivity of labor is measured by the proportion of the population laboring and the skill at which they labor. Two basic ways to improve labor productivity are through the separation of labor and specialization. Derrick and Tracy successfully divided their labor but failed to specialize. If the teacher taught two parallel courses that rotate every class then this method would work, because each could specialize in one course. Right now, each will have more complete and diverse notes, but the system forces them to miss half of the lectures and brings down the skill of their labor. Derrick and Tracy effectively produced more quantity at a lower quality and their grades depend on whether they are able to learn solely from notes or if they need the skill added by going to class. Like many economic issues, this example ends in a grey area. Derrick and Tracy need to evaluate whether the improved productivity of full notes offsets the loss of skill from not attending lecture.


Teddy Craven is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at edward.craven_jr@uconn.edu.