News In Brief

The odd prices we pay for some things

Christina Huh Jan 10, 2011

We talked to Eduardo Porter today, author of “The Price of Everything.” He says, price is always measured against something else — an option valued in opportunity, work, time, etc. But when you think about, the price we pay for some things is kind of insane. Consider the price we pay fro the following things, as Porter outlines in his book:

• Lap dancers — yes, the ones in strip clubs — earn more in tips if they are *not taking birth control. They earn the most money during the most fertile moment in their menstrual cycle. We can thank University of New Mexico psychologists for researching this one.

• Women are worth less in many countries. In China, that’s created an imbalance between men and women. It also, some research suggests, led to the housing boom. Because so many female embryos are aborted in China, Harvard economists estimate there will be 135 men of marriageable age compared to only 100 potential wives. This realization prompted households to save more money in hopes of giving their sons an economic edge when wooing a bride. This drove up the savings up to 54 percent in 2008, which in turn drove down interest rates down and inflated the housing bubble.

• Basketball fans equipped with credit cards will pay up to twice as much for tickets to a Boston Celtics game as those purchasing their tickets with cash.

• The amount offered by the U.S. government in compensation for lives lost on 9/11 ranged from $6.4 million for the families of the wealthiest victims to $250,000 to the families of the poorest people who died that day.

• The cap on what female egg donors are allowed to be paid is $10,000, according to the ethics rules of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. But healthy young Harvard grads are offered up to $35,000 for their eggs.

• Installing seatbelts on U.S. school buses would cost the equivalent of $40 million for each child’s life likely to be saved.

• Montgomery Ward charged $65 for a one-speed bicycle in 1895 – about 6.5 weeks worth of pay for typical worker. Today the firm will sell a multispeed model for $350, which is only 19 hours of work for the average consumer.

• Duke University students said they were willing to pay $166 for a ticket to the NCAA Final Four. But those who already had tickets wouldn’t sell them for less than an average price of $2,411.

• The average price per gallon of printer ink in 2009 was $4,731 when purchased in cartridges from leading printer makers.

• The amount of extra salary needed to provide the same happiness boost as praying once a week is about $12,500.

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