This coming weekend, many in the United States will move their clocks ahead one hour, in a tradition knows as “Daylight Saving Time.” While I welcome the added hour of sunlight in the evening, I must admit that I often dread losing an hour of sleep to get it. The trade-off reminded me of the question that economists ask ourselves often; is the marginal benefit of a change worth its marginal cost? Indeed, this question, applied to the loss of one hour to gain an hour of evening sunshine, is exactly the question that is being asked by many, and the idea has been floated that perhaps we should just choose one time or another; standard time or daylight-saving time. Indeed, if daylight saving time is in any danger, this is a good year to think about the tradition, as this year, daylight saving time turns one hundred years old. And it doesn’t show its age at all.
Some states have already detached themselves from the tradition of springing forward (or falling back), and there is a growing list of others that are considering doing the same, with some considering staying on Daylight Saving time permanently, and others thinking about doing away with it completely. In addition, others are thinking about doing away with it completely To add to the discussion, I want to highlight some of the reasons that people might choose to keep or not keep the practice, a kind of marginal cost vs. marginal benefit analysis about sunshine.
The first days after moving from one time structure to another are usually difficult for many, as we struggle to get used to how the new times affect our eating and sleeping patterns. For those of us who take medicine daily, the switch can cause extra confusion to bodies that don’t recognize the reason why we are not taking medicine at the regular time. Indeed, it has been shown that there is an increase in the number of auto accidents when the time changes go into effect and many people casually report being extra tired on the days after the change. I wonder how much productivity is lost in the first week after a change occurs, and whether it is worth the effort?
On the other hand, there is the added benefit of having summer days that last into the evenings as summer unfolds. While not as much of a technical issue as are the increase in auto accidents or the change in productivity, the value of a day that does not seem to want to end, spent with children, friends and family at the public pool must be worth something, perhaps more than can be quantified by simple statistics. Indeed, recalling many memories of swimming until 9PM, I would venture to say that the benefit of having those extra hours far outweighs the temporary cost of switching. While I recognize the arguments against the tradition, I am thrilled that this coming weekend, we will wish Daylight Saving Time a very happy 100th birthday.
What are your thoughts (or memories) relating to Daylight Saving