Economics of Marathons – Look at the Distribution of Race Times!

Take a look at this article from the New York Times: “What Good Marathons and Bad Investments Have in Common.”

From the article: “The small spikes are people making their goals, with not a minute to spare. A finishing time of 3:59 is 1.4 times as likely as one of 4:01.”

Here’s a quote from the article:

In the usual analysis, economists suggest it’s worth putting in effort as long as the marginal benefit from doing so exceeds the corresponding marginal cost of that effort. The fact that so many people think it worth the effort to run a 2:59 or 3:59 marathon rather than a 3:01 or 4:01 suggests that achieving goals brings a psychological benefit, and that missing them yields the costly sting of failure.

But in other domains, this discontinuity between meeting a goal and being forced to confront a loss can lead to bad economic decisions. Because losses are psychologically painful, we sometimes strain too hard to avoid them.

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