From my email, about the deadweight loss of Valentine’s Day


Single people report feelings of inadequacy, anxiety.
People in relationships suffer from the tyranny of expectations. Good experiences are met with hedonic adaptation, bad experiences can be, I’m reliably informed, remembered for decades.
Florists, restaurateurs, etc., demand – and receive – excess producer surplus for their services.

For years, my solution has been to randomly select a surprise Valentine’s day substitute. Our private utility is well served (the wife loves the arrangement), and as a bonus I think I am minimizing the negative consumption externality.

In my estimation, 1 and 2 outweigh 3, resulting in a deadweight loss.  I’m not a naive utilitarian; yes, I understand there is value in signaling, and, believe it or not, I’m a romantic. I just think that by coordinating this behavior in holiday form we suffer on both demand side (expectations, zero-sum positional goods) and supply (constraints in providing flowers, restaurant tables).

That is from Shiraz Allidina, MR reader.


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