Why Values Hinder Pareto Efficieny Calculations

When the idea that hockey players should be wearing helmets first came out, many thought it was a good idea and said that they would endorse it while at the same time refusing to wear one themselves because others were not. This assignment looks at some of the conditions under which it may be rational for players to not wear helmets themselves while at the same time supporting a rule which would require everyone to wear one, and what some implications of this may be for understanding efficiency.

Efficiency when looking at market economics is generally taken to mean Pareto efficiency, which falls under the Pareto standard. The Pareto standard is the idea that a social state is more efficient with the more people in that state in which it is efficient for. So for instance, a social state between fifteen people will be as efficient as possible when it is efficient for each individual in that society working towards making it efficient. This creates a benefit for those involved in making a greater positive balance of achievement over sacrifice. Pareto efficiency is used because it allows the possibility for at least some individuals to be in a better position to achieve their goals while at the same time not hindering anyone else’s ability to do so. It, therefore, would allow one or several hockey players to not wear helmets in order to make more profit if possible while at the same time not decreasing the amount of profit for those who are wearing helmets.

Possible conditions than for not wearing a helmet could be when someone wants to gain endorsements and a way in which to do so is to distinguish your self from the rest of the hockey players. This was one of the reasons why some of the players decided not to wear helmets when they were first introduced because they believed that their fans would not be able to recognize them. Under this view, it seems it would be wrong to force helmets upon them because in doing so you would be worsening their welfare while improving others. This, however, is assuming that welfare is only taken to mean profit which need not be the case.

While the Pareto efficiency may allow certain players to not wear helmets if they so choose in order to maximize their own gains, Pareto efficiency can also provide a reason for supporting a rule requiring hockey players to wear helmets if welfare is taken to mean not only profit but also safety. In making helmet wearing mandatory everyone who plays hockey will be safer while not making anyone worse off. In the ability of helmets to decrease the risk of skull fracture upon hitting the ice, it is clear that a player’s welfare in the health and safety sense will be improved. Even this claim, however, has been recently challenged, by suggestions that the wearing of helmets provides a false sense of security through which the players become more aggressive and actually increase the risks of serious injury. On the profit side of the issue, if everyone was forced to wear a helmet then it could not be said that one person is losing profit from not having the fans recognize their face because that loss would be placed upon each player equally.

We are understanding efficiency in the market as Pareto efficiency which only allows for win-win transformations. To know if the implementation of mandatory hockey helmets is an efficient rule to require, it needs to be that such a rule will create a win-win transformation. In order for this to be known there need to be certain presuppositions in which to determine what the value is of certain inputs and outputs such as profit and health. In addition, there must be a consensus of the presuppositions in which all of the hockey players come to in order to make it valid. What the costs and benefits will have a large impact on whether or not the suggested helmet rule is an efficient one.

The problem with cost-benefit analysis is those specific measurements on values such as health and well-being cannot be made as easy as it can with money. Additionally, finding a consensus throughout the entire hockey league on how much weight should be given to each value in the analysis would be an extremely difficult task to accomplish. While some players would place more weight on health and well-being others would place more weight on profit. Others, the more reasonable ones perhaps, would recognize that the two are combined. Someone who stays safe has a better chance of making a greater profit over the long run than someone who does not wear the necessary protective gear and then becomes injured unable to make a profit. For our understanding of efficiency in large groups then, it would seem that the implication of a rule which requires hockey players to wear helmets would be efficient. When looking at individual efficiency however it is generally evaluated in accordance with the agent’s own goals and preferences.

If we were to look at one individual hockey player and evaluate that person in accordance with their own goals and preferences than it could easily be the case that the implications of implementing the helmet rule are indeed not efficient. For example, if prior to implementing the rule, the hockey player generated a large portion of profit from fans recognizing him and faced only a small amount of danger while on the ice, forcing the player to wear a helmet would create a losing scenario for the individual.

It must be concluded then that the implications for efficiency differ depending on whether we look at individual hockey players or all of the hockey players together. When we look at them as one it would in effect lead to the implementation of the helmet rule while if we look at them individually the efficiency of implementation of the helmet rule will vary from case to case.

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