Green jobs are a cost, not a benefit – The Property Chronicle
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Green jobs are a cost, not a benefit

The Economist

The International Energy Agency recently reported that shifting to clean energy will create between 13 and 26 million jobs by 2030. They present this as a benefit, but that’s misleading: jobs are not a benefit, but a cost.

That might sound counterintuitive, but it’s easy to understand. Say you need to do repairs on your home and you can’t or don’t want to do them yourself. That means you have to pay for both materials and labour. But imagine that the materials would magically assemble themselves into the needed repair work all on their own. Then you would only have to pay for materials and you would save the cost of hiring someone.

This is true for any business as well. Suppose the elements of their business could magically assemble themselves into the finished product or service. The business owner could then avoid spending on employees and pass some of that savings on to customers. That’s why automation has replaced so many labourious tasks over time, from agriculture to washing clothes to taking orders at fast-food restaurants.

Can you save the cost of labour by doing your own repair work on your home? No, because your time has value. The time and energy spent doing the home repair can’t be spent on something else, whether that something else is a money-making activity or just leisure. That’s the opportunity cost of your labour, the lost opportunity to do the next most valuable thing with your time, whether for you that’s doing something that makes money or just enjoying some leisure time. Even if you find working on your home pleasurable, there’s still an opportunity cost. If that cost is high, then it’s worth hiring someone else. If it’s low, it may make sense to do the work yourself. But either way, there’s a cost.

The Economist

About James E Hanley

James E Hanley is an independent non-partisan scholar. He earned his PhD in Political Science at the University of Oregon, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship under 2009 Economics Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom and 20 years of teaching Political Science and Economics at the collegiate level.

Articles by James E Hanley

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