Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Not thinking like an economist is dangerous

James Zuccollo at the TVHE blog points us to this piece from the Daily Mail in the U.K.
A council is considering urging taxi firms to provide cheaper cab fares for women who wear revealing clothes.

Brentwood Borough Council is considering the bizarre move in a bid to stop women wearing short skirts or low-cut tops becoming a target for sex attackers.

The council is considering discounted taxi prices so that 'provocatively dressed' women can be driven back home and have less of a problem getting a ride.
This is a good example where not thinking like an economist gives rise to the opposite outcome from that intended. The intention seems to be to get more "provocatively dressed women" (whatever that means) home safely in taxis but the effect of this lower fare may well be the opposite. If "provocatively dressed women" were to be charged a lower fare that would mean they are less profitable to carry than a non-provocatively dressed woman or a man. This would mean that taxi drivers would be less likely to drive "provocatively dressed women" home than other women or men thereby reducing the number of such women taken home safely. Also there is the issue of the effect of the lower fare on the number of "provocatively dressed women" out and about.

In short, such a policy would not work.

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