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Small Improvements Save Lots of Time


Small technical changes often shift our production possibility frontier outward, and make a big difference in our well-being, even if they don’t increase measured GDP.
Until the price of home copying machines (today, often part of All-In-One Printer/Fax/Scanner/Copier combinations) fell enough to make one a sensible purchase, I took small items to the local mailing store (or even the dry cleaner!) and paid $.10 per page copied. The $.10 wasn’t the problem-it was my time dragging things over there. Today, I simply turn on the machine on my desk, make the copy, and get back to work (or, more often, to leisure!). With the option of printing multiple copies of PDF files, I don’t need to copy things more than once a month. But each time I do, the home machine saves me easily 15 minutes. I believe similar small technology-induced time savings are ubiquitous, and that together these chunks of time that are saved amount to a large improvement in welfare.