Underpaid inputs (was Re: building industry)
From: William C. Wood (woodwcgmail.com)
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 2016 06:49:59 -0700 (PDT)
Eris wrote:
There were also a few threads regarding the whole volunteer vs. paid issue...one 
that has been particularly up for me lately. Rather than rant & rave here I'll 
link to a recent blog post:

. . . and I heartily agree. But that led me to thinking (warning: I'm an 
economist, cue jokes):

In economics we have an oral tradition about the "underpaid input." Whether in 
a profit or non-profit situation, someone offers a resource that's paid less than its 
market value, or even zero. The classic example is the entrepreneur who opens a bake shop 
and seems to do well enough but absolutely could not expand to a second location. Why? 
Because the entrepreneur is an underpaid input, working 70 hours a week for the 
equivalent of $10 an hour. She could not hire anyone to do what she does and still make 
money. Another example is the food pantry that works great until Roscoe retires, and then 
finds itself greatly weakened because Roscoe did so much for so little compensation or 

And that made me wonder -- are there critical underpaid inputs in cohousing? [There seem 
to be many thriving communities, and many potential future residents of cohousing who 
can't currently find or create a community. Is the explanation simply that 
"development and management" is an underpaid input in cohousing?]

[I've long been curious about the idea that consumers are not well served by existing housing 
patterns, even though they're getting "what they want" 
Seehttp://freakonomics.com/2011/11/16/cornell-economist-robert-frank-answers-your-questions/  , 
about halfway down, concerning "expenditure cascades."]

Sorry for the wonkishness, so just to get back: Thanks again, Eris, for your 
excellent post

William C. Wood
Director, Simplicity House

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