When the Economists Arrive, Do the Prostitutes Leave?

I was walking outside the American Economic Association meetings this past Sunday when a man stopped me and asked what all the university professors were doing in one place.  I told him that it was the annual convention of economists, and got a hearty laugh by telling him the old joke that when the economists arrived in town, the prostitutes left.  This joke is a good illustration: the arrival of economists represents a decrease in demand; the prostitutes’ leaving represents a decrease in the amount supplied.  I don’t know the shape of the supply curve, however, so I can’t speculate about the size of the change, if any, in the equilibrium price. But the joke does suggest that the equilibrium quantity transacted decreased.

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  1. jh says:

    Anecdotally, however, a friend of mine was solicited by a prostitute while checking out of his hotel on Sunday

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  2. Gene says:

    I am having a hard time deciding which is the inferior good in this scenario—the economists or the prostitutes. :)

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    • nobody.really says:

      Oh, *I* get it.

      We can’t tell if the prostitutes are leaving because
      – they’re afraid there won’t be any business, or
      – they’re afraid that there will!

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  3. Chris S says:

    I would surmise that the prostitute supply curve might be a very nice shape.

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  4. RGJ says:

    Did the economists actually arrive? Or are they in Alabama with Telephone Pole Anna?

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  5. Marc says:

    Years ago I was at a USENIX comptuting conference, and was staying at a hotel down the street from the conference hotel. As I was heading into the conference hotel, a woman asked me “Do you have the time?” Without thinking, I glanced at my watch, told her what time it was, and walked into the conference hotel. About a minute later, it dawned on me what she was *really* asking, and grabbed some friends, and went with them to an overlooking window, where we laughed uproriously while we watched at least a dozen other conference attendees dutifully glancing at their watches and telling her the time on their way into the hotel.

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  6. Gene says:

    If the Efficient Markt Hypothesis is correct then the economists should not see any prostitutes on the street. Someone would have picked them up already.

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  7. Mike B says:

    I would guess it is because they are sick of being pestered about informal economy studies.

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  8. mermeid6 says:

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