Friday, April 14, 2006

Substitution Effects

This article (via Fark) on car-key burglaries...
A gang of “car key” burglars are believed to be targeting homes in the Newport area following a third incident in as many weeks. The intruders snatched the car keys and escaped in the victim’s silver Volkswagen Golf GTI … which was parked in the driveway. ... Telford police say it is clear that homes are being targeted for the purpose of stealing newer model cars [which, as Fark notes, are more likely to have hi-tech anti-theft devices – GW].
…reminded me of this post by Tyler Cowen on immigration...
Mexicans illegals enter the U.S. through two major channels. They run (or swim) across the border, or they buy illegal papers. Usually the papers cost more than the hiring the crossing guide. The papers make for an easier and safer journey, for obvious reasons. ... If you shut off the desert walks (assume the fence is impregnable, ha!), more Mexicans will use illegal papers.
When there exists more than one means to accomplish a goal, at some point raising the cost of one means will simply divert agents to the other.

1 comment:

Brett said...

But, in general, it will also divert people into not accomplishing the goal at all. In the example given, closing the border would increase the number of people purchasing fake papers, but not by as much as it reduced the number of people walking across the border.

The demand to cross the border illegally is not perfectly inelastic. Perhaps making a real attempt to secure the border would tell us just how elastic it really is.