Friday, June 1, 2018

The Little Things Matter: A Microeconomic Travel Guide

Tyler Cowen Ethiopia photo
When he stays away from policy, Tyler Cowen can be a very interesting writer. -RW 

By Tyler Cowen

I sometimes wish the market supplied “travel guides as if microeconomics really mattered.” Most guides outline the major sights and the best hotels, but what about the little things that make up so much of the value of a trip? Here’s my handy introduction to the micro side of travel, based on my recent 10-day stay in Ethiopia. You should consider investigating these same factors before choosing a destination:

How are the sidewalks?

I enjoy walking around cities, but it’s not just the quality of the architecture or the vitality of the street life that matter. The quality of the sidewalks is a central consideration, especially in emerging economies. What good are the sights if you are looking down all the time to avoid a slip or a broken ankle because of gaping holes? Sometimes major thoroughfares have no sidewalks at all.

I am happy to report that in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, the quality of the sidewalks and street paths is high enough to sustain productive walking with your head held high. Most of the time. B, and B+ outside the capital.

How is the local coffee?

My guide and driver took me to a small village on the outskirts of the ancient city of Lalibela. They made me coffee from scratch, using a local bean and frying it over an open fire right before my eyes. The taste was strong, bitter and wonderfully complex. A+ for this one, noting that Ethiopia is the original home of the coffee bean.

What kind of pollution?

Except for carbon emissions, poorer countries are usually more polluted than wealthier countries. But what kind of pollution do you wish to avoid? For the traveler, the worst kinds of pollution are 

Read the rest here.

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