Archives for unintended consequences



The Dangers of a Live Twitter Feed

It seems to make all the sense in the world. You are WPMI-TV, the NBC affiliate that covers southern Alabama and some of the Florida Panhandle, and you rent a big electronic billboard to promote your nightly news and weather team. Read More »



More Money, More Fishing

The island of Kiribati began to subsidize coconut harvesting in the hopes of encouraging fishermen to switch to the coconut trade and thereby help preserve Kiribati’s reefs from the ravages of overfishing. Read More »



What's Your Best Externality?

The last two years I’ve run an “externality” contest in my giant intro class, offering $5 to the student who comes up with the best example. Read More »



When You're Paying Per Bone Fragment, Expect More Fragments

We tell quite a few stories about unintended consequences in SuperFreakonomics, including what happens when governments add or increase a trash-collection tax — like this one and this one.

But I don’t think any stories we tell are quite as interesting as the following one, sent in by a reader named Jack Crichton in British Columbia: Read More »



Unintended Consequences for Children

International children’s rights advocates focus significant resources on eliminating child labor in developing countries, often advocating consumer boycotts and international regulation. Despite all these efforts, however, child labor is still prevalent throughout the developing world. Matthias Doepke and Fabrizio Zilibotti think all that international pressure may actually be worsening the child labor problem. Read More »



Is Locavorism for Rich People Only?

Sustainably produced local food is not accessible by all. In general, only the elite few with the time and material resources to capitalize on such environmental munificence have the time and money to benefit from transparently sustainable farms. As a result, the preconditions are inadvertently established for something that generally tends not to bind diverse communities into a cozy whole, but to fragment them: exclusivity. Read More »



Some Good Can Come From Swine Flu

A very common ailment in Korean summers and falls is pinkeye (conjunctivitis), and the problem had been getting much worse in the past two years. My Korean co-author tells me, however, that the H1N1 virus has created a positive externality in Korea. Read More »



Unintended Consequences in Tuna Fishing

In the 1980′s, fishermen trawling for tuna killed tens of thousands of dolphins each year, scooping them up as “bycatch” in their nets Read More »