Archives for Belgium



Social Norms in Action

From a reader named Stephane:

Very recently I drove through a couple of small villages in the northwestern part of Belgium (near the border with France). A couple of road signs caught my attention. When you reach a village there’s a sign (in Dutch) saying “here, X percent of the drivers stay within the speed limit.” Then when you reach the next village there’s the same sign except that the percentage is different. Usually it’s around 90% (87% in one village, 91% in another, etc.).

I don’t know how they collect the data or even if the numbers are real. I also wish I knew the trends, how often they change the signs, how many villages participate in this safety initiative, etc. Then I wondered: where does this idea come from? Have you heard of anything like this before? If yes, is this effective to slow cars down?

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Pricing in the Land of Beers

Belgium prides itself on being “The Land of Beers.”  A Belgian student tells me that this pride leads to some unusual pricing policies among the less well-known breweries.  Apparently, many charge a higher price for their products when they are sold within the local area around the brewery, since people are proud of their local brand.  This is a clear example of demand-based price discrimination.  The average cost of selling locally is probably below that of selling elsewhere (lower transportation costs); but locals’ pride in the native tipple gives the brewers some monopoly power, which they are happy to exploit.  The brewers are made better off (higher profits) by the locals’ behavior; and the local people must be better off, otherwise they would choose different brews.



April 11: The Most Boring Day in History

Using alogrithms that weight values for more than three million facts including historical events, birthdays of significant people, etc, a sophisticated computer program has determined that April 11, 1954 was the most boring day in human history. Read More »



Why Do So Many Celebrities Go Broke?

Because the talent that made them rich in the first place lies in something — television hosting, for example, or heavyweight boxing — that doesn’t teach them anything about how to stay rich. Brian Cuban offers further insights. Last week, Justin Wolfers wondered why Belgium seems to have so few celebrities, and he issued you […] Read More »