Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

Monday, December 17, 2007

What I Have Learned About Antitrust Law and Economics and How I Try to Apply it to my Daughter's Toilet Training

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Since June, my eldest daughter has been in the process of learning to use the toilet.  She still uses diapers and around half of the times tells us beforehand if she has to poop.  As for peeing, other than overnight, she informs us about her need to go perhaps three times a day.  We want her to be fully toilet trained (not counting at night) hopefully within the next month or two. 

My wife and I are trying a new approach based on incentives.  If antitrust law and economics teaches anything about behavior of firms and individuals, it is that incentives help to shape behavior.  We are trying a new set of rewards this week.  As we experiment a few hours a day with her wearing underwear (which have her favorite Disney characters on them) instead of diapers, we made the following economic calculation- a pack of size 4 pull-ups costs us us $80 a month if we buy the generic diapers in bulk at Sam's Club.  Our thought is to take our daughter to Toys R Us today and walk her through a few of the isles and tell her we will buy her anything she wants (up to $150) since we will be making considerable savings after the initial present from no longer having to purchase diapers (or refills for the diaper genie which are $6.99 each).  Any sense of whether or not this will work?

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If your daughter is 2, her discount rate is near infinite. Meaning if she has to wait for her present until she's potty trained, the present value is probably around $0. And if you give her the present before she's potty trained, well, then, you haven't learned as much as I would have hoped.

Posted by: geoff | Dec 17, 2007 10:50:08 AM


The presents will not be bought until after the toilet training. To remind her about her long term interests we might take her on regular trips to Toys R Us to remind her of the benefits of the bargain.

Posted by: D. Daniel Sokol | Dec 17, 2007 1:01:28 PM

My guess is it wont work: see

Posted by: Joshua Gans | Dec 17, 2007 2:16:24 PM

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