Incentives and Behavior


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Incentives and Behavior

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oct. 25, 2010, 3:27pm

Joe Paterno points out that weaker helmets might reduce the number of rough hits.

Editat: abr. 6, 2012, 5:05pm

From Ch 1 of Cowen and Tabarrok’s Modern Principles of Economics:
The prisoners were dying of scurvy, typhoid fever, and smallpox, but nothing was killing them more than bad incentives. In 1787, the British government had hired sea captains to ship convicted felons to Australia. Conditions on board the ships were monstrous… On one voyage, more than a third of the males died and the rest arrived beaten, starving, and sick. A first mate remarked cruelly of the convicts “let them die and be damned the owners have been paid for their passage.”

The British public had no love for the convicts, but it wasn’t prepared to give them a death sentence either. Newspapers editorialized in favor of better conditions, clergy appealed to the captains’ sense of humaanity, and legislators passed regulations requiring better food and water, light and air, and proper medical care. Yet the death rate remained shockingly high. Nothing appeared to be working until an economist suggested something new…

Instead of paying the captains for each prisoner placed on board ship in Great Britain, the economist suggested paying for each prisoner that walked off the ship in Australia. In 1793, the new system was implemented and immediately the survival rate shot up to 99 percent.

abr. 6, 2012, 7:19pm

Joe Paterno points out that weaker helmets might reduce the number of rough hits.

I agree with that to a certain extent. I don't think the number of "rough" hits would decrease, but the number of hits where a player uses his head as a battering ram would most certainly decrease (I'm looking at you James Harrison).

Take rugby for example. Rugby still features pretty bone-crunching tackles, but players rarely get serious injuries. Why? Part of the answer lies in the rules of rugby. If you hit someone in the head, you're gone. That simply isn't tolerated the way that it is in football. But I also think it has something to do with the fact that most of the players don't wear headgear. And the guys who do wear something have a "helmet" that is rather thin and cheap-looking, so you're less inclined to throw yourself around like a cruise missile on the field.

The arms race that is football safety gear has certainly favored defensive players over offensive ones.

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