Bryan Caplan  

Hair Length and the Demand for Haircuts

A Taste of Economic Ridicule... Growing into Freedom...

Puzzle: When is demand for haircuts higher? When short hair is in fashion, or long hair? Or is the relationship more complex?

I'll post my preferred answer tomorrow.

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COMMENTS (16 to date)
Dr. Dan writes:

Its same.

It has no relationship on the fashion.

Randy writes:

The number of haircuts needed is greater among those who get a haircut every two weeks whether they need it or not. Count the number of barbershops on and around a military installation. But the revenue from haircuts is another story. People want to look good no matter the style or length, and stylists for long hair seem to charge more than barbers for short hair. So, pay $8 every two weeks or $24 every six weeks? I'd say the demand for hair care is roughly the same regardless of length.

Uriah Heep writes:

Move over Vidal Sassoon...

Hollywood_Freaks writes:

I'd say shorter. I had a complex answer written down but then realized all I need to write to back up my own personnal belief is this: When I had longer hair, I went to the barber less but paid the same amount.

Ivan writes:

Fashion matters more than length. A complicated cut requires more expensive services. A shaved head or uncut dreads can be DIY.

Thomas B. writes:

If long hair is "fashionable," it either means a) most people have long hair, or b) most people want long hair.

That distinction should affect your result.

The Engineer writes:

Consider this: my wife can give me a crew cut. I've got $12 clippers from Aldi, they paid for themselves the first time she used them. She cuts both my boys hair as well. I haven't been to a barber in 4 or 5 years, and my boys have never been to a barber.

Both my buddies who are vets have crew cuts that they GIVE THEMSELVES!

And then there is the Jordan look. My buddy who's got the shaved head (the ultimate short haircut) doesn't go to the barber.

That Guy writes:

That's all very interesting Engineer, but I think you forgot to read and answer the actual question.

pontus writes:

I reckon that people cut their hair when it is X percent too long in relation to their desired length. Then they cut it x percent too short: (X,x)-cutting strategy.

The demand for haircuts should therefore be much higher when short hair is in fashion: Growing (X-x) times 2y cm takes much longer than (X-x) times y cm (in this case two times as long; linear growth rate assumed).

cn writes:

Suppose you have short hair and you consume two haircuts per month to keep your hair fashionably short. Suddenly, long hair becomes fashionable and being a fashionable person you decide to let you hair grow. You can skip several haircuts until your hair reaches the desired fashionable length. Now, to keep it at the long, fashionable length, you may need to get a haircut just as often as when your hair was short. However, it may be that with long hair, the fashionable length permits greater variance, in that case you do not need to get a haircut as often. Sooner or later, short hair will again come to be the fashionable style. With one trip to the barber your hair can become fashionably short. There is no lag time as with the switch from short to long, and you are back to consuming two haircuts per month. Switching from short to long can reduce the quantity of haircuts demanded for a transition period until the hair reaches the desired length. Once the hair is long, the marginal difference in one’s appearance due to an additional inch on hair growth is probably smaller than the marginal difference if short hair is in style. If you have a crew cut and you hair grows an inch, its time to get a haircut. If your hair is long to begin with and your hair grows an inch, its not so noticeable so a haircut can be delayed. On balance, shorter style probably lead to greater demand for haircuts.

Colleen writes:

Demand for haircuts would be greater for short hair vs long. Why? The relative change in length over time is greater. If you have very long hair, and your hair length increases a centimeter over a month, it is not nearly as noticable as when very short hair gains the very same centimeter. Of course, this assumes that preferences over hair style remain constant. If a fellow with the shaved head waits a month, resulting in more of a crew-cut affair, then decides it's a better look, this assumption is violated.

Richard writes:

It is my opinion that if you take into consideration the prices of an average hair cut for short hair ($10) vs. long hair ($10). Then you take into consideration the time and fashion period you are in. Since we have a grand mixture of hair lengths in today’s society, I say it cost the same

Barkley Rosser writes:

Not determinable definitely.

On the surface it looks like the short hairs
demand more because need to cut more. But, if
the longhairs want to keep their hair exactly
the same length all the time, it is possible
that they might actually be in the barbershop
more frequently than the shorthairs.

It does seem that the longhairs are more likely
to want expensive styling, although that will
depend on the nature of the cut in both cases.

Too many possibilities here, no definite answer.
It depends...

Jerod writes:

Honestly, I feel like the only time the demand for haircuts are high, is right after college graduation. I dont think theres really a specific time you should cut your hair because so many companies say "it doesnt matter if what you look like" because its all about equal oppurtunity. But while in high school i did a research in greensboro, nc that pretty much stated that corprations are look for the canaidate whos more presentable rather then the unlce jimmy mountain man look.

zoevans writes:

Haircuts, as one might think do have alot to do with fasion. Many people, especially women ten to follow celebrities new styles and trends. With that said, I believe the demand for haircuts has more do to with fasion in Hollywood, if you will, than different fasion lengths.

Lance F. writes:

It has been my experience that people with shorter hair require more haircuts than their long haired counterparts. Think about it. If you have a "high and tight" haircut, an extra inch of length is going to be very noticeable. This would not be the case if your hair is already down to your shoulders. It should also be noted that a trip to a "stylist" will likely be far more expensive than a visit to your local barber.

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