—“Curt: What’s a Forgone Opportunity Cost?”—

Good question.

An opportunity cost refers to the difference in cost between alternative choices.

A forgone opportunity cost is a form of opportunity cost wherein you bear a cost of *restraint* (not seizing an opportunity) in order to pay for something else. Most notably the institution of property rights itself.

So the opportunity cost of buying a pizza versus saving for a motorcycle, or buying a steak dinner versus the forgone opportunity cost of returning a lost wallet to the person that has lost it – contents intact.

In general I use forgone opportunity costs to refer to the means by which we pay for normative commons: manners, ethics, morals, traditions, rituals, festivals, where we forgo opportunities for discounts or gains in order to create less tangible goods (morality is the best example.)

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