Updated Popsicle Economy

Just a short article this week. (Another short article may appear later in the week.) I’m slowly updating the graphics and visualizations in earlier articles. This week I’ve updated the original Popsicle Stick Economy simulation to include a real-time sparkline showing the “level of the economy”. Every time someone uses a babysitter a counter is incremented and the value of this counter is shown in the sparkline.

Note, this metric is more analogous to the employment level than a measure of active money supply as the counter is incremented each time a baby sitter is used regardless of whether it’s for one hour or for four hours.

Given the starting parameters of the simulation peak employment occurs with an initial value of 4 or 5 Popsicle sticks per couple. Maximum employment would be 50, where half of the couples are going out on a date and the other half are babysitting. The fluctuations in employment occur for several reasons. One is that many couples are simultaneously interested in going out on a date and in babysitting. If they get asked to babysit before they themselves find a sitter then they are removed from the “dater pool” which results in suboptimal employment (employment would be higher if they instead went on a date hiring someone who had no choice but to sit). Note this effect is minimized when there are vastly more sitters than daters, which occurs when there is only 1 stick per family. (The sparkline is much less volatile.)

Click on the graphic to go to the simulation.

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