Thursday, December 09, 2004

Advice on Christmas

The one pain about this time of year is the whole rigmorole of selecting, ranking and transporting presents to all and sundy. However, Gary Becker also has a helpful analysis in a 1974 NBER paper:
...when one member cares sufficiently about other members to be the head, all members have the same motivation as the head to maximize family opportunities, and to internalize fully all within family "externalities", regardless of how selfish (or indeed, how envious) these members are. Even a selfish child receiving transfers from his parents would atomatically consider the effects of his actions on other siblings as well as on his parents. Put still differently, sufficient "love" by one member guarantees that all members act as if they loved other members as much as themselves. As it were, the amount of "love" required in a family is economized: sufficient "love" by one member leads all other members by "an invisible hand" to act as if they too loved everyone.