Claire is feeling a like she is not contributing to the family because she doesn’t have a job. She has applied to 5 jobs recently, but despite her college degree is rejected from all of them. Because she has been out of the labor force for so many years, he human capital has depreciated.
See more: college, education, human capital, human capital investments, human capital depreciation, job search, labor force, labor force participation, labor market, skills, unemployment
The family is visiting Australia and has a hike planned for the day. On their way to the van, Cam and Mitch get a text from an old friend inviting them to join him on Hugh Jackman’s yacht that day. Now Cam and Mitch have to decide between time with their families or time with famous people.
See more: cost benefit analysis, opportunity cost, tradeoffs
This scene takes place immediately following the Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage. If we think about the gay marriage market, a law that prevents gay marriage is essentially like a quota of 0, which leads to huge amounts of deadweight loss. As soon as the quota is removed/the law is changed, the lines at the courthouse are long as all of those previously prevented from marrying rush to get married.
See more: demand, efficiency, inefficiency, markets, quotas, role of government, supply, transaction barriers
Lily lost her first tooth and got $100 from the Tooth Fairy. Cam and Mitch are trying to convince her that the Tooth Fairy made a mistake and she should give the money back, but Lily wants to keep the money until Hayley tells her this would almost certainly put her on Santa’s naughty list. Now Lily has to decide what she values more: $100 or Christmas presents.
See more: opportunity cost, rationality, tradeoffs
The Tooth Fairy leaves Lily $100 for her first tooth. Mitch says the going rate must be $5 tops and that theTooth Fairy must have made a mistake.
See More: demand, equilibrium, expectations, market price, prices, supply
Cam and Mitch have decided to get Jay and Gloria a special gift off registry for their new baby’s nursery. Mitch seems concerned that they will not appreciate it.
See more: altruism, gift giving, imperfect information, irrationality, rationality
Cam has started making is own soy based bacon alternative called facon. He insists that it is indistinguishable from real bacon, but Mitch and Alex are able to tell a difference.
See more: entrepreneurism, imperfect competition, markets, product differentiation, tastes and preferences
Since Lilly is now in school and Cam and Mitchell are not adopting another baby, Mitchell thinks it is time for Cam to get a job. Their friend Longeness offers him a job at his boutique to help Mitchell out. Cam accepts because it does seem like a great match for his tastes and skill set, but Jeoux let’s the cat out of the bag that it wasn’t a sincere offer, and Cam is very offended that Mitch thinks he is too lazy to get a job.
See more: household production, human capital, labor force, labor-leisure tradeoff, marginally attached, nonpecuniary benefits, search, tastes and preferences, tradeoffs, unemployment
Mitch and Cam have promised Lily that they can adopt a cat and name it Larry. Unfortunately, when they go try to adopt a cat they realize that there are a lot of non-monetary costs involved in the cat adoption process. Cam points out that they would not have a surplus of cats if they made the process easier (or essentially lowered the price).
See more: allocation, costs, demand, excess quantity, prices, quantity demanded, surplus, transaction costs, wasted resources
When adopting Lilly, Mitchell only gave her his own last name and not both his and Cameron’s because he was scared Cameron would leave. As an apology he writes a story about two monkeys adopting a panda. He and Cameron think they have found a niche market with stories for gay parents, but they realize the market is already pretty saturated after a trip to the bookstore.
See more: advertising, demand, entrepreneurism, market power, monopolistic competition, product differentiation, tastes and preferences
Pam’s ex-boyfriend is back in town and wants to get back together. Mitchel is all in favor of the reconciliation, but Cam is against it. Why is Mitchell so eager for her to move out? As long as Cam’s sister is in the apartment upstairs, they aren’t able to rent the apartment out and earn extra money. While Cam is trying to be generous for his family, Mitchell sees the missing dollar signs.
See more: altruism, cost of capital, implicit cost, opportunity cost, personal finance, rental income, tradeoffs
Cam convinced Mitchel that he needs to be kinder so Mitch invites a messy colleague who is going through a breakup to spend the night at their place. Unfortunately, she takes him up on it. Determined to keep their beautiful, brand new, designer white sofa (their one nice thing) in mint condition, they give up their bed for her and sleep on the floor. In this clip, they wake up and discover that she has moved onto the couch. This couch is more expensive than one from Rooms to Go and so it counts more towards GDP. Owning an expensive couch is an indication of Mitch and Cam’s high standard of living. Yet, does a high standard of living mean a higher quality of life? Robert Kennedy didn’t think so:
[GDP] counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.
–RFK, Speech at University of Kansas, March 18, 1968.
Another perspective on this clip: resources are scarce. At it’s heart, economics is about how we choose to use those resources. Purchasing this couch moved Mitch and Cam on to a higher indifference curve than before they purchased it so their utility is higher than it used to be. But could they have been on an even higher one if they chose to buy a cheap couch and spend their money on something else? Traditional economics says that Mitch and Cam are rational and made the best decision. Is it possible that they could have made a mistake? What if they incorrectly estimated the cost of maintaining the couch. Could this also demonstrate time inconsistency?
See more: altruism, GDP, gross domestic product, luxury goods, opportunity cost, quality of life, risk, risk aversion, standard of living, tradeoffs
Cam and Mitchell own a duplex. They usually rent the upstairs unit but Cam’s sister, Pam, needed a place to stay when she was pregnant so he offered it to her (rent free). This has put a bit of a strain on their relationship because she’s stayed longer than planned and they need the money from the rental.
See more: cost of capital, implicit cost, opportunity cost, personal finance, rental income, tradeoffs
Mitch is working on a big case about the rights of vulnerable workers. In it, he argues that a company is preying on the lack of options available to people who are homeless and hiring them for extremely low wages. He believes that this is a violation of labor laws and tries to get the notice of the press. However, Cam is stealing the spotlight as a successful high school football coach who is openly gay. Traditional economics holds that trades which are voluntary (such as employment) are mutually beneficial. As such, is the company truly taking advantage of its workers or do they benefit from the employment opportunity? Political economics suggests that you cannot ignore the power inequality between the company and the workers. When a large power imbalance is present, exploitation is possible. Which is more in line with Mitch’s perspective? Traditional economics or political economics? Would the people who are homeless be helped by increasing the wage? How would that impact structural unemployment?
See more: altruism, externalities, income inequality, labor law, living wage, negative externalities, political economics, private benefits, social costs, specialization, structural unemployment
Lily has the tough teacher but Cam and Mitch just learned of an opening in the nice teacher’s class. In this scene, they approach Ms. Plank about transferring Lily into Ms. Sparrow’s classroom. Education is one of the markets where consumers have little choice. Some argue that this creates inefficiencies in the market. Others argue that education consumers may not have enough information to make optimal decisions so giving consumers more choice would not necessarily lead to an improvement in efficiency. This sort of problem is discussed at many levels in education – from school choice to book choice.
See more: education, human capital, human capital investments, information economics, market failure, preferences, school choice, signaling, skill building, textbook choice, tradeoffs
Cameron gets Lilly a job as a child actor, but Mitchell is not excited about it and says no. Cameron doesn’t understand why he thinks he gets the final say in household decisions.
See more: access to resources, bargaining power, household labor supply
Cam and Mitch are trying to get Lily into the best preschool they can, and preschool admissions are normally very competitive, but they think that being gay and having a minority child will give them a leg up in the admissions process. The market for daycare appears to be a monopolistically competitive environment in which firms differentiate their offerings to appeal to different parents.
See more: allocation, competition, demand, inefficiency, monopolistic competition, prices, product differentiation, rationing, signaling
Cameron fills in as the drummer in Dylan’s band, and after their first song, performs an impromptu drum solo. Mitchell originally found him impressive, but his drum solo went on so long that he experienced diminishing marginal returns.
See more: diminishing marginal returns, utility
After Mitchell quit his job, Cameron went to work to support them. Both Mitchell and Cameron think their partner is happy with this role reversal, but both are miserable and want to return to their original arrangement.
See more: added worker effect, division of labor, labor supply, preferences, specialization, unemployment
Cameron gets a new job at a greeting card store and loves it because he is able to buy greeting cards with the employee discount. This greatly increases his greeting card purchases, and Mitchell points out that it is not saving them money, but costing them money. The discount represents a price reduction, which causes Cam to increase the quantity of cards he purchases.
See more: demand, income effect, nonpecuniary benefits, prices, quantity demanded
Mitchell is worried that he is a worse parent than Cam, but Cam assures him that they are both great parents because they complement each other. Their decision to specialize in particular tasks allows them to complete more work together and both recognize they wouldn’t accomplish nearly as much if each had to go it alone.
See more: comparative advantage, complements, division of labor, specialization
After bumping Lily’s head on the doorframe, Mitchel calls his sister for reassurance. Claire lets Mitchell know it’s fine because her youngest son was hit on the head a lot and he’s fine, but that correlation ends up worrying Mitchell more.
See more: causation, correlation, health care
Cam gives his mother in-law a pair of diamond earrings, but she reciprocated by giving him exercise equipment and salad drier. Cam doesn’t appear to think that the two gifts were of equal value, which shows how gift giving can be considered inefficient.
See more: deadweight loss, exchange, gift giving, inefficiency, irrationality
Mitchell doesn’t understand why they buy their diapers at Costco, but Cam jokes that they’ve been doing it since they had a baby. The implication is that the baby has caused an increase in their demand for diapers. It turns out that Mitchel really likes Costco!
See more: demand, elasticity, necessities, preferences, quantity demanded
When Mitchell realizes how cheap items at CostCo are, he suggests getting enough for the next two years. When he realizes how many diapers that is, he thinks about getting a shed to store them all. When people face steep discounts on prices, they respond by buying more (law of demand), but how much more they decide to buy is based on the elasticity of demand. In this case, Mitchel appears to be a very price sensitive buyer even though the items are really necessities.
See more: complements, demand, elasticity, income effect, prices, quantity demanded
Cam is talking to a lady at Lily’s play class about movies to make small talk, and they have very different opinions on how talented Meryl Streep is. Cam loved her performance in Sophie’s Choice and has a hard time thinking about having to choose between Lily and Mitchell. While each person has their own subjective preferences when it comes to entertainers, nearly everyone faces the same struggle of having to decide between saving family members.
See more: choices, preferences, ranking, subjective value, tradeoffs, transitivity
Mitch and Cam have a house guest who made breakfast using the expensive caviar that they had been saving for a special occasion. While enjoying their wonderful meal, they realize that there are all sorts of things that they have never used because they were waiting for the perfect time. This demonstrates choice paralysis. Cam and Mitch have seemingly endless choices for when to consume these special things but they never actually do. Choice paralysis says that we have a difficult time making a choice when there are too many options. As a result, we cannot chose and end up with a sub-par outcome.
See more: choice paralysis, choices, framing, preferences, utility, utility maximization
Economics often suggests that competition improves efficiency. Jay seems to agree. He fosters competition within his family to help them achieve their goals. But are they really achieving those goals? Later in the episode, we find out that there were some unintended consequences of his actions.
See more: competition, extrinsic rewards, incentives, intrinsic rewards, labor, motivation, perverse incentives, unintended consequences
Mitchell grew up on a farm wanting to be part of a lake family. He laments that anyone can visit the lake, but only wealthy families can sleep on a lake, implying that lake life if a luxury good. Discovering they own lamps that are on a boat, Mitch likes them less but Cam likes them more.
See more: demand, luxury goods, normal goods, subjective value, tastes and preferences
Economics often suggests that competition improves efficiency. Jay seems to agree. He fosters competition within his family to help them achieve their goals. But are they really achieving those goals? The truth comes out in this clip. It turns out that they’re a family of cheaters and not a family of winners.
See more: cheating, competition, ethics, incentives, moral hazard, motivation, self interest, unintended consequences
Cam is desperate to win the football game and be a winner. He overhears the opposing team’s coach plans for the next play. Does he act on this insider information? Yes. Using insider information in buying and selling financial securities is illegal because it gives someone an unfair advantage. Similarly, many would consider Cam’s actions cheating. In fact, Cam feels really guilty about it but Mitch encourages him to keep up the facade because winning is also important to him.
See more: ethics, insider trading, morals, self interest
Gloria is sick and Cam tries to help around the house. Gloria’s family remedy for colds is a bit smelly and Cam accidentally uses Joe’s cape. Gloria points out that Joe has a strict ranking set when it comes to that cape and he even places the cape above his own father.
See more: preferences, ranking, subjective value, transitivity, utility
The Dolphins are on a winning streak and Cam has to keep doing his superstitious activities so that his team can keep winning. Mitch decides to go to the game, but that’s against the weekly tradition and all of a sudden the team’s fortunes turn. It may be hard to convince Cam, but correlation doesn’t imply causation.
See more: causation, correlation, sports
Mitch gets sick on his honeymoon, but spreads it to everyone else in the family. Each member goes through the pain they endured because Mitch didn’t quarantine himself. Only later in the episode do they find out that Mitch isn’t patient zero.
See more: externalities, gift giving, health care, negative externalities, private benefits, social costs, substitutes
Cam and Mitch go on vacation and bring Jay illness and a cheesy gift. The gift is so bad that Jay considers the illness a better gift.
See more: exchange, externalities, gift giving, inefficiency, irrationality, negative externalities, subjective value
Cam and Mitch have been married 3 months, but it seems like their honeymoon will never end. Cam continues to give Mitchell flowers even though he clearly doesn’t enjoy them as much as he used to. He may have loved the first bouquet, but eventually he may start to hate them.
See more: diminishing marginal returns, gift giving, inefficiency, preferences, rationality, utility