It's the beginning of a new school year and a new crop of struggling econ students are starting to realize that their homeworks require 'work.' As has been the occasional case over the past 2 years, The Answer Desk is starting to get questions that bear a remarkable resemblance to questions than might be asked in standard econ classes*. Take this example recently submitted to The Answer Desk:

Suppose that an economy has two consumers with preferences over air quality andconsumption that are represented by:

u1 (y1,x1) = a ln y1 + (1 − a) ln x1

u2 (y2,x2) = a ln y2 + (1 − a) ln x2

where a=(0,1) . Suppose that air quality is 1= x1 = x2 and that consumers must divide one half unit of consumption, y.(a) Describe the set of Pareto optimal allocations.

[If you are interested in the rest of the problem, click here]

The Env-Econ Answer Desk has a non-written--now written--policy of not doing other people's homework for a number of reasons:

- We already went through school and struggled through countless problems like this. We would be idiots for wanting to do it again.
- We have respect--perhaps misplaced?--for other econ teachers/instructors and hope that by announcing such a policy, these instructors would refuse to answer our students questions if asked.
- There is a non-zero probability that we would get the answer wrong and that would just be embarrassing. We would prefer to hide behind our veil of superiority rather than degrade ourselves by missing questions we should be able to answer.

We are economists. Answering questions like this would take time. Our time is slightly valuable. These questions have yet to be accompanied by offers of payment. Free-riding off other people's goodwill is never an efficient economic policy.

Disclaimer: __We reserve the right to revisit this policy upon receipt of offers of adequate payment--we prefer all offers of payment be presented in liquid form. __

*Here's an Insider's Secret: Many econ instructors use 'Suppose' to start homework questions. Most think this is because the question poses a highly stylized, unrealistic hypothetical situation and the reader is easily fooled by the realism unless they are forewarned with the creative writing trick 'Suppose.' But the real reason is that 'Suppose' is codeword for other instructors that means "This is an econ homework or exam question--please don't give my students the answer, please allow them do the work on their own."

OK, the real reason is that most econ instructors--yours truly included--are uncreative, lazy writers and one of our instructors once started a question with 'Suppose' and it stuck.