While Alex is freaking out about her junior year grades, Haley doesn’t need to study because her community college asks her to bring glue sticks. Education may serve as a signal of ability instead of actual skill building, which would be shown by the requirements or competitiveness in the application process.
See more: college, education, human capital, human capital investments, signaling, signals, skill building
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
Phil wants to ride his street strider, but his whole family thinks it is very uncool. Luke points out that he has friends on the street that might see, and Claire not so subtly threatens to leave him if he rides it suggesting she is not getting any joy from him enjoying his street strider and in fact it is harming their relationship.
See more: externalities, negative externalities, private benefits, social costs
Luke and Manny’s class is having a yard sale to benefit UNICEF. When Mitchel doesn’t want to donate Cam’s pants, Luke tries to re-frame the charity attempt to guilt his uncle into donating more money. Framing is one tactic to get people to do something they may not have done under the original design.
See more: altruism, behavioral, charity, framing, incentives, inequality, poverty
Luke and Manny’s class is having a yard sale to benefit UNICEF. Manny thinks the point is for them to learn about global altruism, while Luke thinks to point is to beat the other class.
See more: altruism, charity, donations, incentives
Claire is proud of how she almost scared a man to death last Halloween, but Phil points out that it was overkill and she could have been scarier with less makeup.
See more: decreasing returns, diminishing marginal returns, government regulation, marginal utility, negative externalities, negative returns, role of government, utility
Phil and Luke are trying to go on as many rides as they can at Disneyland, but after a while Phil can’t take it anymore. It’s clear that Phil’s utility is diminishing at a much higher rate than Luke’s.
See more: decreasing returns, diminishing marginal returns, marginal utility, negative returns, utility, utility maximization
Kenneth, an old neighbor who idolized Phil, comes back to visit. He tells the Dunphy family that he dropped out of college and bounced around at small jobs until he started an investment company. Haley who is currently evaluating her college options realizes that if he had gone to college, he would have become successful 4 years later. Kenneth’s opportunity cost of college would have been very high making his decision to drop out a good one.
See more: acquisitions, college, education, entrepreneurism, human capital, human capital investments, mergers, opportunity cost, tradeoffs
When a classmate’s house burns down, the Pritchett family bands together to find things to donate to their cause. Manny and Luke are put in charge of a remote controlled helicopter that Manny has been coveting. Luke convinces Manny to fly it and they promptly lose the helicopter. Manny is scared of what Gloria will do when she finds out and threatens to walk to Canada if they do not find it. Luke replies that he hopes Manny likes taxes. Canada does tend to have higher tax rates than the United States, but there are also differences in the services provided by the two governments.
See more: budget balance, comparative systems, inequality, macro, role of government, taxation
The Dunphy’s neighbor has a new boat that they leave in the driveway. Many of the family members are impacted by the visibility of the boat. This represents spillover effects and mean that an externality is present in the market for boats. Some family members see the boat as having a positive externality. Others see the boat as having a negative externality. As there is a relatively low number of people impacted by the boat (the Dunphy’s and other nearby neighbors), Coase theorem suggests that an efficient outcome can be negotiated. But will the Dunphy’s be able to get to it? Claire is immediately interested in finding regulations that restrict how residents can store large property like a boat. Many communities, especially home owner associations (HOAs), have rules pertaining to this situation. These rules are designed to lower the transaction costs associated with these externalities by providing a standardized process for dealing with conflicts between neighbors that settles disputes, thereby increasing the likelihood that an efficient outcome is attained. However, often these processes can end up creating problems themselves. What happens, for example, if the neighbors get together and decide that it’s OK to store the boat in a visible place? If they do and the enforcement agency requires a change, it can make things worse.
See more: Coase theorem, externalities, negative externalities, positive externalities, private benefits, private costs, property rights, regulation, social benefits, social costs, spillover effects, transaction costs
Luke hires Haley to work for him at the golf club. Sometimes, her service is a little off putting but she is still his best worker and brings in good tips. She’s going through the process so that she can save up and move out of her parent’s home.
See more: incentives, labor market, savings, training
Luke has decided that he’s ready for college and meets with a community college admissions officer. He asks all the important questions like “how hard is it?” and gets some tough but realistic answers. The admissions officers tells him that after years of hard work, he’ll graduate and be qualified for an entry level job and steadily get promoted until, around age 45, he can expect a 3 bedroom house. Luke compares his current situation with this potential future and decides that maybe college isn’t right for him. But is that the correct counterfactual that he should use for this decision?
See more: college, cost benefit analysis, counterfactual, human capital, human capital investments, psychic costs, skill building
Phil is trying to sell the house next door to a couple. In order to make the house as desirable as possible, he wants to put his family’s best foot forward. He wants the buyers to want to live beside his family. So, he has the kids outside gardening. This demonstrates adverse selection, signaling and the importance of spillover effects/positive externalities. Good, helpful neighbors are desirable and can increase a property’s value, especially if they take good care of their yard. Thus, there are positive externalities associated with landscaping. To discuss signaling and adverse selection, consider that someone is less likely to move if the neighbors are good than if they are bad. So, it’s entirely reasonable to consider the housing market as being characterized by adverse selection. Phil is doing all he can to signal that he and his family are good neighbors in order to get the couple to by the house and to pay a high price for it. But are they good neighbors? (At the end of this clip, you’ll see the other possible new neighbors. Which new family would each of the Dunphys prefer to live beside? Why?)
See more: adverse selection, externalities, housing markets, negative externalities, positive externalities, preferences, private benefits, private costs, self interest, signaling, social benefits, social costs, spillover benefits, tradeoffs
Haley, Phil and Luke are participating in a psychology study. Luke has convinced Phil that they should push the big red button that says “DO NOT PUSH” but Haley stops them. She says one in a million college drop outs go on to become Steve Jobs. The other 99 thousand don’t (her math is a little off). She recently dropped out of college and is having a crisis. This demonstrates several economic concepts including the importance of human capital and time inconsistency. Human capital comes from going to college but Phil reminds her that there are other sources of human capital. Time inconsistency occurs when you regret a decision in the past.
See more: behavioral, counterfactual, education, entrepreneurism, human capital, sunk cost, time inconsistency
Alex is graduating from high school soon so Phil, Claire and the kids are visiting Cal Tech. Claire thinks Cal Tech is the perfect place for Alex but she’ll find out soon that she and Alex have different preferences. College is one of the ways that we build human capital. As we learn more things, we become more productive and our labor is more valuable. Alex is already really bright and loves academics so college is a good fit to set her up for doing impressive things in the future.
Claire wants a great school that’s close. Alex wants a great school that’s far away. We also learn that Cal Tech has 5 Nobel Laureates on staff, suggesting that Cal Tech itself has a lot of human capital, making it a highly productive college.
Alex learns why Cal Tech might be a better choice for her than an East Coast school. What is more important: the quality of the program or proximity to home? Choices are tough and everything has a cost. Here’s Alex’s current dilemma: stay close to home and attend the best program in the country OR go to a college on the east coast with a weaker program.
See more: cost benefit analysis, human capital, opportunity cost, preferences, school choice, signaling, skill building, tradeoffs, utility
When Claire and Phil cancel Christmas after finding what looks like a cigarette burn in the sofa, Alex suggests she and her siblings all confess so that their parents will reinstate Christmas and go easy on them for protecting their siblings. Unfortunately there is an incentive to cheat, but Luke isn’t smart enough and ends up confessing to something he didn’t do.
See more: game theory, incentives, prisoner’s dilemma
The Dunphy’s call Phil’s parents in the sweaters they were given as gifts. The call goes awry when Claire sees what looks like a cigarette burn in the sofa. In her anger she calls the sweaters ugly while still on the phone with Phil’s dad.
Luke was supposed to keep a journal all summer, but when school starts again, he realizes he only did one day. Luke’s focus on the present (at the beginning of the summer) imposes large negative externalities on his back when it’s time to turn in the work later in the summer.
See more: discounting, irrationality, negative externalities, present oriented, procrastination, time inconsistency
Luke discovers that used women’s shoes command a higher price when he sells to people with very specific tastes. He and Alex join forces to supply goods to this niche market. By differentiating their product from just reselling shoes, the two can earn big profits.
See more: demand, monopolistic competition, outputs, product differentiation, profit, revenue, subjective value, supply, tastes and preferences
While at work, Haley meets a leisure lover searching for a new husband who will die soon. The woman offers Haley a position as her personal assistant that includes getting paid for leisurely activities. Luke tries to convince Haley to stick with work because it’s better for her future, but she chooses the life of leisure.
See more: employment, labor, leisure, nonpecuniary benefits, tradeoffs, wages
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
Luke is baby-sitting for Gloria. She expects him to care for her son in a responsible way. When Luke posts a selfie on social media, Gloria worries that her son might be in danger. This represents the principal-agent problem. Luke is the agent and Gloria is the principal. Is he acting in her best interest? Of course not! He’s shirking. To cover up his shirking, Luke tells Gloria that he has a series of photographs of her son in dangerous situation but they’re all fake. Now, he needs a series of photoshopped pictures but doesn’t use photoshop. So, he decides to only give Manny something that he wants if he photoshops Gloria’s younger son in to dangerous situations. This represents trade through barter. Luke has a pass that Manny wants. Manny has a skill that Luke needs. They trade because they have a double coincidence of wants.
See more: barter, double coincidence of wants, exchange, labor, moral hazard, network externalities, principle agent problem, social media, trade
Phil and Claire get a special coin made to determine decisions they disagree on. As a final decision, they flip to decide how to spend their retirement account. Unfortunately for the kids, the coin decides that they spend it on a beach condo.
See more: cost benefit analysis, decision making, either-or-decisions
On their way to Phil’s father’s wedding, Phil asks his family to dress like 1920 gangsters, but it seems like they are the only guests their in costume. Phil is notorious for embarrassing his family and each member relates a time Phil did something that made him happy, but imposed social costs on others.
See more: externalities, negative externalities, private benefits, private costs, social costs
The Dunphys are having their house fumigated so they have to squeeze into a small hotel room. The neighboring dogs are barking all night and a train runs through around night time. Luke tries to set off a cologne bomb and ends up stinking up the whole room.
See more: externalities, negative externalities, private benefits, private costs, social costs
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
The Dunphys are having a great summer while Alex is away building houses for the less fortunate, but as soon as she returns everything takes a turn for the worse. Everything seems to think Alex is the cause of the tension and as soon as she leaves then things start to look better. While these actions may be correlated with Alex’s presence in the house, she certainly can’t be the cause of the tension, could she?
See more: causation, correlation
Haley is in a bind and needs some money real fast. She goes to Luke, but he isn’t really in a position to give her any money because he’s decided to freeze his cash. He even remarks to Haley that he isn’t very liquid right now, but we’re not convinced he actually knows about liquidity.
See more: assets, frozen assets, liquidity, medium of exchange, money, store of value