Search the Site

A True Pareto Improvement

We economists love to talk about Pareto optima and Pareto-improving changes. Frankly, though, when the group of interested parties is considered broadly enough, there are extremely few changes that are truly Pareto-improving.

I just came across one.

I was scheduled for a seminar next week at the German research institute where I’m on sabbatical; it would have been my sixth seminar at this institute in five months. I’m tired of giving seminars here, so I offered to cancel my presentation.

It turns out that a young colleague was supposed to give a seminar at the same institute, but he was displaced by a visitor doing a job interview. He was happy to take my place; and I would bet that the audience and the other researchers here are quite sick of hearing me talk by now, so my cancellation makes them better off too. And I must be better off, otherwise I wouldn’t have made the offer. A rare event indeed!