Friday, January 23, 2009

Price of Prejudice

This post addresses the following Keystone Economic Principles
1. We all make choices.
2. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.
3. All choices have consequences.

People often overlook some of the social implications of economics. One of the best examples of this is how we think about prejudice. I find that students frequently don't see a connection. But prejudicial behavior has an economic cost.

This article in the January 17th issue of The Economist talks about the price we pay for prejudicial behavior. The research cited looked at questions of weight, gender and race. In all cases, prejudice was more prevalent than many of the participants admitted to, and in some cases there prejudice implied some significant costs, both personal and social. The lesson is that when we make choices based on prejudice, we give up something. And the choice can have long-term consequences for many people involved and many who are not involved in the immediate decision. (An externality?)

I look forward to your comments.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While I am not anything close to being a racist, (as far as I know, I haven't been studied), I think the study goes to show how much people care about politically correctness and wether or not some one is predjudice. In general, the study reveals that many people carry prejudices that they would not ordinarily admit to having, but in a sense, exposing those people for what they are is a biased of all it's own. The question of why only white students were used as the racist examples in this study makes it seem as though the researchers neglected to believe that everyone is in some way prejudice, especially when the study proved to show how prevalent prejudice is.

Now, in the case of the white student who made the racist comment, I can say that I wouldn't want to be anywhere near that person, and if that makes me prejudice against racists than so be it. As long as these prejudices don't cause feuds and struggles in the work force, than personal opinions, in addition to sex, religion, weight, orientation, IQ, ethnicity, etc. shouldn't matter. The sad truth is that these biases only come out when there is a problem or a competition such as hiring a man vs. a woman, or like in the portion of the study when the students had to pick team mates for the game show. It all goes back to 5th grade, picking teams on the playground. But some to think of it, no body worried about being politcally correct then, so why are we all so worried about hurting people's feelings now?