I am a second year student of Economics and I am extremely lazy
. I don’t think that laziness is per se a bad treat; after all, it has undoubtedly contributed to the greatest innovations in human history. (I privately hope my laziness will do as well)
However, my teachers and professors complain. They say I refuse to do anything extra to what is required in my course. I sleep in lectures and I'm passive in classes (if I bother to turn up).
I only do the absolute minimum of work necessary to get a degree. Honestly, I think I'm a nice guy; and I think most of other students are nice people. We’re not a horrible lazy generation of parasites who will live off the welfare state, yet we make very little (close to zero) effort at university. What’s wrong with us?
Let us introduce a bit of Economics here, namely the concepts of opportunity cost, incentives and optimisation. The two main functions of university are education and qualification. Why do students come to university?
If you ask most of them, it’s not primarily because they’re interested in the subject area, but because they want to get a good job and live a happy life. Nowadays, putting aside possible consultations with experts, with the use of internet and a public library you can teach yourself virtually anything and for free.
As a consequence, the educational purpose of university is seriously weakened to the point of clinical death. In contrast, unless you’re an entrepreneur, getting a degree is a necessity for a good job. For a degree you need to sit at university for at least three years until you’re awarded a degree. What incentives do students have based on this?
This is a typical optimisation problem. I'm minimising costs, maximising utility, subject to the constraint that I must pass my exams to get a degree (which is imposed on the assumption that it will increase lifetime utility). I have little opinion of the value of education my university provides; furthermore, there is no benefit I can derive from studying hard
, it only takes time that I could spend on things that I value more (opportunity cost). Therefore university work decreases utility and increases cost
, thus I wish to minimise the amount of workload. My only incentive is to get a degree (whatever grade I chose to). As a result, I will do the minimum amount of work required to get the grade I want and will do nothing more than that. Any other behaviour would be irrational given the assumptions.
In conclusion, it is irrational for students not to be lazy
. Students have every incentive to come to university and then do as little work as possible to get a degree. That is precisely what they’re doing.