Tag: economics

Put Down the Gun: Bank Robberies Just Ain't Worth It

By Sophie Bushwick | June 19, 2012 8:58 am

James brothers
If only the James brothers had studied econometrics,
they would have realized that crime doesn’t pay.

Pondering a bank-robbing life of crime? Don’t start building the pool for swimming through your piles of money quite yet: Economists say that in a single raid in the United Kingdom, a robber doesn’t even earn enough to purchase a new car, while each theft increases his odds of being captured.

“The return on an average bank robbery is, frankly, rubbish. It is not unimaginable wealth. It is a very modest [$19,889.64] per person per raid,” write three British economics professors in their paper (titled “Robbing banks: Crime does pay—but not very much”) in the journal Significance. At that rate, to earn an average annual income in the UK, any would-be Butch Cassidy would have to hold up two banks a year, and by the time he completed three successful raids—and only 66 percent of bank robberies actually succeed—he would face a fifty-fifty chance of arrest.

In the United States, a bank robber’s gains are even more abysmal, with each hold-up pulling in a feeble $4,330. At least the American bank robbery can lord it over the average commercial raid (which nets an average of $1,589) and convenience store bust (only $769 on average).

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The Monkey Snuggle Market: How Much for a Quick Nuzzle?

By Jennifer Welsh | November 8, 2010 5:05 pm

monkeyIn some monkey species, monkey moms use snuggle time with their babies as a commodity. Mothers will “sell” time with their children to other females in their colony for the price of several minutes of grooming. As Science News puts it, they have a “do my hair before you touch my baby” rule.

The research team who made this discovery, which was described in the journal Animal Behaviour, studied vervet monkeys and sooty mangabeys in the Ivory Coast’s Tai National Park. Newborn infants draw crowds of female monkeys who want to touch, hold, and make lip-smacking noises at the babies. Touching of the baby can be had for a price of a few minutes spent grooming its mother, though it’s not really known why female monkeys are so drawn to the young of others.

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The Best Way to Predict Box Office Hits: Twitter Chatter

By Smriti Rao | April 2, 2010 2:10 pm

the-blind-side-posterWondering which Hollywood movie will be this weekend’s smash hit? Head straight to Twitter, as a new study (pdf) suggests the microblogging service offers the most accurate predictions of a movie’s success.

In a new paper about Twitter’s success at gauging a film’s fortunes, Sitaram Asur and Bernando Huberman from HP devised a simple model that tracks people’s tweets about a certain movie (for their study, they collected almost 3 million tweets). The researchers found that compared to the industry’s gold standard for movie success prediction, the Hollywood Stock Exchange, tweets were far more accurate in predicting how much money a movie would make.

The researchers’ system tracks the rate and frequency of movie mentions, and also categorizes the tweet reviews as either positive or negative. The Twitter findings reflect marketing realities, the researchers note: While movie studios can push people to the theaters with hype and pre-release marketing, it’s usually positive reviews and word-of-mouth that sustains people’s interest after a movie has been released.

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