Consider each of these carefully?

It seems logical to introduce safety belts. Introduce them and then you may find that accidents have increased though fatalities may have decreased. Because drivers get more reckless and prone to accidents. There are less deaths but if you include the increased number of accidents (of cars vs cars and cars vs pedestrians) due to carelessnes, then there seems reason to be circumspect of the outcomes of the much-supported safety-belt regulations.

Next. Pass a regulation that prohibits discrimination against disabled men with regard to employment. What happens? Fewer disabled people get hired. Why? Imagine you were an employer faced with the prospect of hiring a disabled person. Employers know from experience that some people may not be good at work, it happens. But employers also evaluate the costs of firing as well. So if midway through work they found a disabled man not good enough for work, they would like to fire him. But the regulation against discrimination of disabled men ups the costs of firing and hence, of hiring them. So fewer people get hired, as employers would not like to take the risk of hiring and then having to bear the costs of firing him.

Now consider education. Those who could pay would try for obtaining value-for-money education. Now make education completely free. A section of this populace, particularly those who “value” quality in education would still go for the education that gives them value for money. But another section, in fact the major one, may find themselves incentivised to still stick to the for-free education, even if it is of poor quality and especially if there are no other suitable options. So these parents who would have otherwise paid money and demanded better education are left in the hands of an agency who gives them free education but is not accountable to them since they have no stake in it. Does this count for one of the factors that afflict our government based elementary education system?

If you have become wiser (read more circumspect) about how government acts/ schemes affect human behavior, then you will be definitely interested in the Peltzman effect.

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The opinions expressed in this essay are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CCS.

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Naveen Mandava

Naveen is Co-Founder at XamCheck, an organization that partners with schools, supporting them in processes they follow, with learning materials and processes that are all crafted to work together as an interconnected system to drive learning. He is a Doctoral Fellow from RAND Graduate School in Santa Monica, United States of America. He has worked extensively on assessment based decision support for governments, non-profit organizations and schools chains in India and the USA for over 10 years. He has been a Lead Consultant with the World Bank’s Innovations for Poverty Action Consortium, a Policy Analyst with RAND Corporation and a Research Manager at Centre for Civil Society.