Last week I attended a PD for Teachers hosted by the University of Waikato Economics Department. Amongst the presentations was one on Developments in Environmental Policy. Questions were asked as to what is the Economic Way of Thinking about Pollution:
* What is the ‘efficient’ level of pollution?
* Rarely zero – choices have to be made* How should we get there?
* How can this be achieved at least cost?
* Who should bear the cost?
One particular example that was presented was the “Nutrient emissions reduction scenarios in the North Sea”. Ultimately for economists it is a cost benefit analysis with – Marginal Abatement Costs v Marginal Damage Costs (See graph below).
Theoretical representation of different management positions based on economic considerations and different interpretations of the precautionary principle (assuming that all cost can be expressed in monetary terms). Marginal abatement costs (ranging between AC1 and AC2) and marginal damage costs to the environment (ranging between DC1 and DC2) are shown
The letters on the horizontal axis represent the following:
A = Strict Precautionary Principle (As near as possible to pristine condition)
B = Precautionary Principle implemented through the best available technology
B – C = Safety Margin
C – E = Risk threshold zone of uncertainty
D = Implementation of the best available technology not entailed excessive costs for society
F – G = Economic Optimal zone
H = Implementation of the best available technology not entailing excessive private costs
The Economist looked at this area and I thought that I would delve a little deeper. There is no doubt that if you study the costs and benefits of faking an injury there are certain sports where it is percieved as quite worthwhile – i.e. the benefits outweigh the costs. Cost benefit analysis is part of Unit 3 of the AS Level course. What is cost-benefit analysis (CBA)?
Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) refers to estimating the private and external benefits of an investment project – airport, rail link, road etc against the private and external costs. Once these costs/benefits are established a decision is made as to whether the project should go ahead.
CBA can be applied to any decision you make and below is a table outlining the cost and benefit of faking a penalty or injury in particular sports. I see the benefit in soccer of diving in the box and being awarded a penalty outweigh the costs by a significant amount. Firstly, if the appeal for a penalty is turned down it is very unlikely that the referee will administer any punishment to the player faking a foul. In too many cases they are happy to let the game play on as they feel under so much pressure anyway for not awarding it. Whilst in ice-hockey a suspension of either 2 or 4 minutes has acted as a deterrent to those caught “embellishing”. I have put some values in the end column which will no doubt encourage a lot of discussion – remember Warren Gatland, the Welsh coach in the Rugby World Cup, considered informing a player to fake an injury so there would be no pushing in the scrums. This was after their captain, Sam Warburton , was sent off early in semi-final against France.
However, with the perceived benefits of diving in soccer it does encourage players to even practice this activity. This reminded me of a great advertisement run by the Guardian Newspaper for the Euro 2004 Soccer Championship – see below