Snowmaggedon and Snow-Shoveling Entrepreneurship

During the last massive snowstorm in the DC area in December, George Mason University economist Bryan Caplan wondered why there weren’t any teenagers going around door to door offering snow-shoveling services. In reply, I pointed out that kids in other parts of the country do in fact do this, and that it wasn’t happening in Virginia in large part because this region gets so few major snowfalls, and there hasn’t been enough of an opportunity for a shoveling market to develop.

This year, however, the area has gotten so much snow that a door to door shoveling market seems to have emerged after all. Earlier this evening, a group of mostly Hispanic teenagers knocked on our door, offering to shovel our driveway for pay. We weren’t able to agree on a price, so I decided to do the shoveling myself. Perhaps I should have sent them to Bryan’s house, but that thought only occurred to me later.

Today’s snow was lighter and less difficult to shovel than that which fell over the weekend. Also, I’m a onetime teenage snow-shoveler myself, so I have some sense of what to do. I only wish that a storm this big had happened back in my teen years, so I could have had five days off from school and an opportunity to earn what would then have been a hefty addition to my income.

Be that as it may, a door to door snowshoveling market is clearly developing in our area, which supports the theory I advanced in my earlier post. Perhaps when I finish the two books and various articles I’m currently working on, I’ll write something about the economics of door to door snow-shoveling in northern Virginia. The resulting article might even challenge my analysis of federalism in Star Trek for the honor of being my most widely read publication:).

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