3 Reasons Why Winter Reading is an Economically Rational Decision

Jack SullivanWorkplace with notebook on black background

I’m cold, cranky, and tired right now thanks to the frozen tundra called Connecticut.  It’s that wonderful time of the year when snow is poorly substituted for frozen rain, and the wind complements the miserable climate by giving your face frostbite.  Being cooped up indoors has been overhyped, as there are literally no alternative options for outdoor activity.  Cross off any winter pond hockey around here, because it is somehow not that frozen outside, either.  With that said, winter reading is a worthwhile investment and actually an economically rational decision to make with your time.  Here are three economic proofs that demonstrate why reading is a better alternative indoor choice than repetitively binge-watching Friends or doing literally anything else.

1. You can’t make preferences about doing anything else in the winter because there are almost no other options available.

The field of economics is a wonderful mix that crosses between psychology, philosophy, and math, though it is centered around the idea that the individual is self-interested in his/her own behavior and then makes decisions with that information.  The concept of preferences tackles the psychological approach of the field.  The cold reality of the winter (pun fully intended) is that your only other options for activity include re-watching Netflix shows and sleeping, two truly boring choices.  Netflix really does get old quickly, and you can only get so much sleep before you become lost in your own mind and dispirited.  Read a novel for increased utility (happiness) in the winter to stimulate your brain and to save yourself the trouble of being hindered by the overwhelming opportunities of the summer.  With available activities like swimming, hiking, and vacations, it will most certainly be difficult to find the time to sit down and read a novel.

2. Be totally extra on Instagram.

Visualize a theoretical production possibility frontier with two goods that make a hypothetical individual happy in an overly simplistic world: Instagram likes and the quantity of books read.  Naturally, Instagram posts about reading generate a greater number of likes than photos without this caption, so the utility possibility frontier is already greater than what it would have been by solely posting simplistic photos (Assumption disclaimer).

In order to gain greater utility, the individual seeks to find the optimal amount of Instagram likes and books read which is ultimately based on his/her personal preferences to achieve such happiness.  Because of the shape of the production possibilities frontier below, if the individual were to achieve the maximum number of Instagram likes, he/she is unable to read any books (boo!).  Instead, let’s strive for an optimal allocation of the two goods, and achieve a happy median at the red dot, where the individual has less likes but more books read, leading to optimally improved happiness from a mentally sound perspective and improved popularity in a social lens (yay!).  It’s simple economics, folks.Screen Shot 2018-02-14 at 12.38.00 AM

3. Warm weather means that your focus will dissipate immediately.

A common misconception people have is that warmer weather is a catalyst to begin reading.  Totally wrong.  You may argue that your utility for reading a book in the summer may supposedly increase with the prospects of warm weather at the beach.  Please, keep telling yourself that. But let’s face it, the whole book on the beach look is all for show, and you’re lying to yourself if you think that you can read the first two pages before falling asleep there.  This taps into the behavioral economics aspect of the field, and while it may look good on paper (once again, pun fully intended), there are just too many other activities to do in the summer available than in the winter cold.  Therefore, your marginal utility of reading a book in the winter exceeds the marginal utility received from what you get in the summer (MUWinter > MUSummer).    

Stay warm and keep reading, y’all!  Pick up a book now in the name of overly simplistic, somewhat correct, and highly presumptuous economics!


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