Friday, January 07, 2011

Toilet Economics

Always an outlet for the interesting, the Economic Inquiry that landed in my mailbox today offers the following paper: Up or Down? A Male Economist's Manifesto on the Toilet Seat Etiquette. An ungated version is here. The abstract is as follows:

This paper develops an economic analysis of the toilet seat etiquette, that is, whether the toilet seat should be left up or down. I investigate whether there is any efficiency justification for the presumption that men should leave the toilet seat down after use. I find that the “down rule” is inefficient unless there is a large degree of asymmetry in the inconvenience costs of shifting the position of the toilet seat across genders. I show that the “selfish” or the “status quo” rule that leaves the toilet seat in the position used dominates the down rule in a wide range of parameter spaces including the case where the inconvenience costs are the same. The analysis can be applied to other shared facilities that can be customized to each user’s preference.

I love the second sentence.