Become a Writer Today

Essays About Competition: Top 6 Examples and 10 Prompts

As you write about competition, discover our examples of essays about competition and writing prompts to unlock your competitive self.

We live in a highly competitive time, and one might easily say that competition makes the world go round. Indeed, doing your best to get ahead of others has perks, such as fame, money, promotion in the workplace, or esteem from your parents if you’re a student.

Beyond these immediate rewards, competition can help develop self-confidence, discipline, and tenacity, which help people survive and thrive. So unleash your competitive side by writing a thrilling essay about competition, and read our examples to inspire you.

6 Helpful Essay Examples

1. is lack of competition strangling the u.s. economy by david wessel, 2. why competition is good for kids (and how to keep it that way) by devan mcguinness, 3.  how great power competition has changed by shivshankar menon, 4. how life became an endless, terrible competition by daniel markovits, 5. how to create a successful partnership with your competition by norma watenpaugh , 6. the importance of positive coaching in competition by oscar ponteri, 10 exciting writing prompts on essays about competition, 1. how schools can encourage healthy competition, 2. how competition builds self-esteem, 3. importance of competition laws, 4. business competition in the digital age, 5. competition vs. cooperation, 6. dealing with sibling competition, 7. preparing for a competition, 8. competition in mother-daughter relationships, 9. love is not a competition, 10. competition in the animal kingdom.

“If we’re slow to take action to bolster competition — perhaps because incumbents successfully wield their power or because of a distaste for regulation of any sort — we risk diluting the dynamism of the economy and restricting the flow of innovations and new ideas, darkening the prospects for our children and grandchildren.”

The essay looks at the decline of competition in various US industries. In particular, it investigates factors — profits, investment, business dynamism, and prices — that can indicate the robustness of competition in a country. Falling competition is worrisome in economies as it enables incumbent firms to abuse their power and block new entrants, restricting consumers’ options for more affordable and better quality goods and services.

“Besides setting them up for wins and losses later in life—hey, they won’t always land that big promotion—competitive activities help them develop important skills they’ll use well into adulthood, like taking turns, developing empathy, and tenacity.”

Well-meaning parents might disapprove of competition to shield children from getting disheartened at losing. But child development experts say that competition has lifelong benefits for children, reinforcing the value of hard work, thinking positively, and being a good team player. However, parents should be careful in delineating healthy competition from unhealthy ones.

“Competition among great powers has extended to the sea lanes that carry the world’s energy and trade and is visible in the naval buildup by all the major powers that we see today—a buildup over the last ten years which is unmatched in scale in history.”

With the influence among global superpowers now spread more evenly, coupled with the fact that their interventions in conflict areas have only yielded prolonged battles, global superpowers are now more focused on their geopolitical reach. But some factors, such as their dependence on other superpowers for economic growth, also compel them to go beyond their horizons. 

“Outrage at nepotism and other disgraceful forms of elite advantage-taking implicitly valorizes meritocratic ideals. Yet meritocracy itself is the bigger problem, and it is crippling the American dream. Meritocracy has created a competition that, even when everyone plays by the rules, only the rich can win.

Instead of intensely engaging in competition, why not just stop competing? This essay laments how meritocracy destroyed people’s relationships at home, all for advancing in the workplace. While throwing competition out of the window seems like an ambitious proposal, the author offers a glint of hope using the case of a policy framework created during the Great Depression. 

“In my experience, working with your competition is not an intuitive thing for most people. It takes a strong value proposition to make the risks and effort worthwhile.”

When cooperating with your competition becomes a key to your goals, you resort to a strategy called “co-opetition,” short for cooperative competition. This essay fleshes out the situations where such alliances work and provides tips on making the most out of these relationships while avoiding risks.

“I have learned that competition holds incredible power… It’s all about how you utilize it. How our youth coaches frame competition will dictate the way we compete beyond athletics for our entire life.”

A high-school student shares his profound thoughts on the essence of positive coaching in the life of athletes even beyond the field. His beliefs stem from his experiences with a cold-hearted coach that turned around his love for sports. 

Essays About Competition: How schools can encourage healthy competition

To start, cite the numerous benefits of competition in developing well-rounded students. Make sure to back these up with research. Then, write about how you think schools can create an atmosphere conducive to healthy competition. Provide tips, for example, calling on teachers to encourage students to participate and motivate them to do their best instead of keeping their eyes on the trophy. You may also share how your school is promoting healthy competition.

Competition can drive you to improve and build the foundations for your self-esteem. For this essay, research the scientific links between healthy competition and self-confidence. Look also into how competition can promote a mindset that goes for growth and not just the gold medal. Some who lose may see themselves as a failure and give up rather than seeing their loss as an opportunity to learn and do better. 

Competition or antitrust laws aim to ensure robust market competition by banning anti-competitive acts and behaviors. First, briefly explain your country’s competition law and enumerate acts that are prohibited under this law. Then, to help readers understand more clearly, cite a recent case, for example, a merger and acquisition, where your antitrust office had to intervene to protect the interest of consumers. 

The borderless digital world has made the competition very cutthroat, with the demands for innovation at a neck-breaking pace. But one advantage is how it has somewhat leveled the playing field between big and small businesses. Enumerate the pros and cons of the digital age to business competition and cite what emerging trends businesses should watch out for.

Should we be more competitive or cooperative? Or should we stop pitting one against the other and begin balancing both? Provide a well-researched answer and write an argumentative essay where you take a position and, with research backing, explain why you take this position. To effectively execute this writing style and its techniques, see our ultimate guide on argumentative essays .

Competition among siblings goes as old as the story of Abel and Cain. It can disrupt family peace and become a vicious, toxic cycle that can last into their adult years if unresolved. What are the other negative impacts of sibling competition on the family and the well-being of siblings in the long term? Identify these and research what experts have to say on managing sibling rivalry. 

Preparing for a competition

How do you prepare your mind and body for a competition? If you regularly participate in competitions, this is the right topic prompt for you. So, share tips that have worked to your advantage and find science-backed recommendations on how one can be ready on competition day both psychologically and physically. For example, studies have shown that visualizing your performance as a success can increase motivation, confidence, and self-efficacy.

Describe the factors that trigger competition between mothers and daughters. You can cite aspects of the gender theory identity developed by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud . Then, differentiate the nature of the competition and its different stages as the daughter grows. Finally, help mothers navigate this confusing period and deal with strength and enormous understanding.

This quote is best for couples who fight like cats and dogs. For this writing prompt, explain how seeing your partner as a competition can destroy a romantic relationship. Then, offer tips on how your readers can make amends with their partners, reconnect with them and see them as allies. After all, relationships need intensive teamwork.

Write an informational essay about competition in the animal kingdom. For example, you might have to differentiate interspecific competition from the intraspecific competition. You might also have to flesh out the differences between competition and predation. Then cite the factors that trigger competition and its effects on biodiversity.

Before publishing, make sure your essay is error-free by using the best grammar checkers, including the top-rated Grammarly.  Find out why Grammarly is highly recommended in this Grammarly review .

argumentative essay about is competition really good

Yna Lim is a communications specialist currently focused on policy advocacy. In her eight years of writing, she has been exposed to a variety of topics, including cryptocurrency, web hosting, agriculture, marketing, intellectual property, data privacy and international trade. A former journalist in one of the top business papers in the Philippines, Yna is currently pursuing her master's degree in economics and business.

View all posts

Is Competition Good? Understanding Its Impact and Benefits

This article examines whether competition is beneficial, discussing its impact on productivity, innovation, and personal growth.

Key takeaways:

  • Competition can be direct or indirect in various contexts.
  • Healthy competition fosters innovation and personal growth.
  • Competition is driven by evolutionary and psychological factors.
  • It spurs innovation but can also cause undue stress.
  • Competing can lead to personal growth and teach valuable skills.

What Is Competition?

Competition occurs when individuals or groups vie for a limited resource, whether it’s a trophy, a title, a position, or recognition. This struggle can unfold in nature, as in species competing for food, or in human environments, such as companies battling for market share. Here are a few key points to consider:

  • Types of Competition: It can be direct, like two sports teams facing off, or indirect, where businesses compete for consumer attention without direct confrontation.
  • Scales of Competition: It ranges from personal (competing with a coworker for a promotion) to global (countries vying for technological supremacy).
  • Healthy vs. Unhealthy Competition: Not all competition encourages positive outcomes. Healthy competition can lead to innovation and improvement, whereas unhealthy competition can cause stress and unethical behavior.

This concept is integral to understanding human behavior and societal development. It drives progress but also challenges our ethics and values.

Why Do We Compete?

Humans are naturally driven to compete for a variety of evolutionary and psychological reasons. Initially, competition was a survival mechanism to secure scarce resources like food and shelter. Today, these primal instincts manifest in more modern settings—sports, academics, and the job market.

Competition also stems from a desire for social standing. Achieving higher status within a group can lead to better opportunities and increased respect among peers. This social comparison often motivates individuals to enhance their performance in various aspects of life.

Moreover, competition serves as a motivational tool. It pushes us to exceed our limits and innovate. By comparing our achievements with others, we identify areas for improvement and personal growth, which can lead to significant advancements in both personal abilities and broader societal progress.

Yet, the drive to compete might also link to personal fulfillment. Many find joy and a sense of accomplishment in the process of striving for excellence, not just the outcome. This intrinsic satisfaction can be a powerful motivator, independent of external rewards.

The Virtues and Downsides of Competition

Competition can spur innovation. Teams or individuals often push their limits when they’re trying to outdo others, leading to fresh ideas and approaches. This dynamic drives progress in technology, business, and science.

On the flip side, it might lead to undue stress. The pressure to be the best or to win can cause significant anxiety and may discourage risk-taking, as the fear of failure becomes overpowering.

In terms of personal growth, competition can be a great motivator. It encourages people to improve their skills and work harder to achieve their personal best. However, this can sometimes foster an unhealthy focus on winning at all costs.

Furthermore, competition can enhance teamwork. In a group setting, competing against another team can strengthen internal bonds and collaboration. Conversely, it can sometimes lead to conflict or an overly competitive environment that disrupts teamwork and communication.

Lastly, competition can teach resilience and adaptability—valuable life skills in both personal and professional settings. But, if not managed well, it may also breed jealousy and a scarcity mindset, where individuals see success as a limited resource only a few can achieve.

How Competition Affects Our Brains

Competition sparks heightened levels of dopamine in our brains, the chemical largely responsible for our sense of pleasure and reward. This release motivates us and increases focus and energy levels, essential during challenging tasks or events.

However, not all effects are positive. Prolonged exposure to stress, often a byproduct of intense competition, might lead to increased cortisol production. Excessive cortisol can impair cognitive functions such as memory and concentration, and if not managed, it may contribute to long-term health issues.

Furthermore, competition encourages brain plasticity. Engaging in competitive activities, particularly from a young age, helps in developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills. This cerebral flexibility can aid in learning and adapting across various aspects of life.

Understanding how our brains react to competitive situations helps us better manage our responses and leverage the positive aspects while mitigating the negative impacts.

Should I Compete?

Deciding whether to engage in competition depends on personal goals and context. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

**1. Personal Growth:** If you thrive under pressure and are motivated by challenges, competition could be a catalyst for significant personal development.

**2. Skill Enhancement:** Competitions can push you to refine your skills more rigorously than solitary practice might.

**3. Stress and Pressure:** It’s crucial to assess how competition affects your mental health. For some, it leads to positive stress, or eustress, while for others, it may contribute to unhealthy anxiety.

**4. Nature of the Competition:** Evaluate the environment. Is it supportive and aimed at mutual growth, or cutthroat and win-at-all-costs?

**5. Long-Term Impact:** Consider how the competitive experience will influence your future. Will it open doors, build valuable connections, or enhance your resume?

Reflect on these points to decide if competing aligns with your values and aspirations.

Continue reading:

Company Culture: Understanding Its Impact and Best Practices for Improvement

Your New Team is Working Hard: Understanding Their Efforts and Impact

What is Productive Struggle: Understanding the Role in Learning

Productive Struggle: Understanding Its Role in Learning and Growth

  • Search Menu
  • Advance articles
  • Editor's Choice
  • Author Guidelines
  • Open Access
  • Submission Site
  • Why Publish?
  • About Journal of Antitrust Enforcement
  • Editorial Board
  • Advertising and Corporate Services
  • Journals Career Network
  • Self-Archiving Policy
  • Dispatch Dates
  • Journals on Oxford Academic
  • Books on Oxford Academic

Article Contents

Introduction, the virtues of competition, competition sacrificed, the dark side of competition.

  • < Previous

Is competition always good?

  • Article contents
  • Figures & tables
  • Supplementary Data

Maurice E. Stucke, Is competition always good?, Journal of Antitrust Enforcement , Volume 1, Issue 1, April 2013, Pages 162–197,

  • Permissions Icon Permissions

Competition is the backbone of US economic policy. Competition advocacy is also thriving internationally. Promoting competition is broadly accepted as the best available tool for promoting consumer well-being. Competition officials, who regularly try to protect the public from anticompetitive special interest legislation, are justifiably jaded about complaints of excess competition. Although the economic crisis has prompted some policymakers to reconsider basic assumptions, the virtues of competition are not among them. Nonetheless to effectively advocate competition, officials must understand when competition itself is the problem’s cause, not its cure. Market competition, while harming some participants, often benefits society. But does competition always benefit society? This is antitrust’s blind spot. After outlining the virtues of competition, and discussing some well-accepted exceptions to competition law, this article addresses four scenarios where competition yields suboptimal results.

Americans love to compete. More Americans strongly agreed than any other surveyed country’s residents that they like situations where they compete. 1 Praised in various contexts, 2 competition is the backbone of US economic policy. The US Supreme Court observed, ‘The heart of our national economic policy long has been faith in the value of competition.’ 3 The belief in competition is not only embodied in the antitrust laws. Every US executive agency, for example, is legally required to have an advocate for competition. 4

Competition advocacy is thriving internationally. 5 The past 20 years witnessed more countries with antitrust laws and the birth and growth of the International Competition Network (ICN), an international organization of governmental competition authorities, with over 100 member countries. 6 Although different constituencies accept to different degrees the benefits of competition and competition policy, the strongest competition advocates, in an ICN survey, were among the academic community, consumer associations, media, and nongovernmental organizations. 7 ‘Within OECD countries, competition is now broadly accepted as the best available mechanism for maximising the things that one can demand from an economic system in most circumstances.’ 8

The Sherman Act was designed to be a comprehensive charter of economic liberty aimed at preserving free and unfettered competition as the rule of trade. It rests on the premise that the unrestrained interaction of competitive forces will yield the best allocation of our economic resources, the lowest prices, the highest quality and the greatest material progress, while at the same time providing an environment conductive to the preservation of our democratic political and social institutions. But even were that premise open to question, the policy unequivocally laid down by the Act is competition. 9
These days, it is unlikely that well-counseled firms will explicitly argue that they need to be saved from ‘ruinous’ or ‘cutthroat’ competition. But, under one name or another, this idea is likely to resurface. For example, two merging firms may well argue that ongoing competition will leave them with insufficient profits to make valuable and necessary investments to serve consumers. This is effectively a version of the ‘ruinous competition’ argument that should be treated skeptically. 12

Although the economic crisis has prompted some policymakers to reconsider basic assumptions, the virtues of competition are not among them. 13 Nonetheless to effectively advocate competition, officials must understand when competition itself is the cause, not the remedy, of the problem. Market competition, while harming some participants, often benefits society. 14 But does competition always benefit society? This is antitrust’s blind spot.

One could argue that the problem is not economic competition per se, but poor regulatory controls. This is a valid point. Part of competition’s appeal is that no consensus exists on its meaning. 15 Competition does not exist abstractly, but is influenced by the existing legal and informal institutions. 16 A chicken–egg dilemma follows: Is the problem with competition itself or the legal and informal institutions that yielded this type of competition? One’s view depends in part on one’s ideological reference point—namely the belief of competition existing outside a regulatory framework, necessitating governmental intervention in the marketplace versus the belief that regulatory forces help create and define competition in the market, necessitating improvements to the legal framework.

This article identifies the problem as competition itself, since under most theories of competition, markets characterized with low entry barriers (and recent entry) should not be prone to the market failures described herein. 17 Whatever the theory (failure of competition or regulations), society is worse off as a result.

The section ‘The virtues of competition’ outlines the virtues of competition. The section ‘Competition s acrificed’ discusses some well-accepted exceptions to competition policy. The section ‘The dark side of competition’ addresses four scenarios where competition yields a suboptimal result.

lower costs and prices for goods and services,

better quality,

more choices and variety,

more innovation,

greater efficiency and productivity,

economic development and growth,

greater wealth equality,

a stronger democracy by dispersing economic power, and

greater wellbeing by promoting individual initiative, liberty, and free association. 19

Competition’s virtues are so ingrained within the antitrust community that competition often takes a religious quality. The Ordoliberal, Austrian, Chicago, post-Chicago, Harvard, and Populist schools, for example, can disagree over how competition plays outs in markets, the proper antitrust goals, and the legal standards to effectuate the goals. But they unabashedly agree that competition itself is good. Antitrust policies and enforcement priorities can change with incoming administrations. But the DOJ and US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) steadfastly target horizontal restraints and erection of entry barriers via legislation. 20 Competition authorities from around the world may disagree over substantive and procedural issues, but they all advocate competition. 21 Indeed the labels ‘pro-competitive’ and ‘anticompetitive’ are synonymous with socially beneficial and detrimental conduct.

Some policies that ostensibly restrict competition are justified for promoting competition. Intellectual property rights, for example, can restrict competition along some dimensions (such as the use of a trade name). But the belief is that intellectual property and antitrust policies, rather than conflict, complement one another in promoting innovation and competition. 22 Likewise, contractual non-compete clauses are justified for their pro-competitive benefits. 23

Given their faith in competition’s healing powers, antitrust officials and courts typically distrust complaints about competition. 24 They are rightfully wary when industry groups or other government agencies decry competition as ruinous or destructive. First, consumers can pay more for poorer quality products or services, and have fewer choices. Second, governmental or private restraints can raise exit costs and inhibit innovation. Third, economic regulation can attract special interest groups to lobby for regulations that benefit them to society’s detriment. Competitors, challenged by new rivals or new forms of competition, may turn to regulators for help. Competitors may ask governmental agencies under the guise of consumer protection to prohibit or restrict certain pro-competitive activity, such as discounts to their clients. They may enlist the government to increase trade barriers or for other protectionist measures. Such ‘rent-seeking’ behavior benefits lobbyists and lawyers, but can substantially waste scarce resources. Finally, impeding competition can cause significant anti-democratic outcomes, like concentrated economic and political power, political instability, and corruption. 25

Accordingly, antitrust officials are justly suspicious when regulatory bodies decide that a company’s entry would ‘tend to a destructive competition in markets already adequately served and would not be in the public interest’. 26 Such decisions are best left to consumers, not regulators.

As the previous section discusses, competition, given its virtues, is the backbone of US economic policy. But competition, while often praised, is also criticized. 27 One economic reality, as this section outlines, is that competition and antitrust law do not permeate all social and economic activity.

Activity not subject to competition

Life would be more stressful if we competed for everything. Competition cannot always be preferred over cooperation. Cooperation is often more appealing and socially rewarding. 28 Society and competitors at times benefit when rivals cooperate in joint ventures and addressing societal needs (such as supporting education for specific trades). The divide between cooperation and competition is beyond this article’s scope. 29 But one important issue is when competition makes people less cooperative, promotes selfishness and free-riding, reduces contributions to public goods, and leaves society worse off. 30

Social and religious norms exclude or curtail competition in many daily settings. Commuting to work, in theory, is not a competitive sport. Parents should not foster competition among their children for their affection. 31 None of the pleasurable daily or weekly activities (ie intimate relations, socializing after work, relaxing, dinner, lunch, praying/worship) necessarily implicate competition. 32 Parishioners are discouraged from competing for better pews and parking spaces. Nor do the mainstream religions endorse a deity who wants people to compete for His love.

Antitrust norms do not translate easily in these social or religious settings. For example, if private companies agree to not cold call each other’s employees for employment opportunities, they face antitrust liability. 33 Some religions arguably compete for new members. 34 But it is doubtful that religious leaders are liable for agreeing not to proselytize each other’s members and to share information to enforce such agreements. 35

Some goods and services are not subject to market competition. 36 Although a market may otherwise form between willing buyers and sellers, the country’s laws and informal norms prevent these markets’ formation or curtail the economic competition therein. One example is human organs. Among the concerns economist Alvin Roth identifies are (i) ‘objectification’ — pricing a thing or service moves it into a class of impersonal objects to which it does not belong [eg payment for organs transforms a good deed (donating one’s organs) into a bad one (marketing and selling one’s organs that violates human dignity)]; (ii) ‘coercion’—giving money ‘might leave some people, particularly the poor, open to exploitation from which they deserve protection’; and (iii) the ‘slippery slope’—monetizing transactions ‘may cause society to slide down a slippery slope to genuinely repugnant transactions’ [eg lenders use organs as collateral for debts, and opens up sale of body parts generally (including eyes, arms, legs, etc.)]. 37

This is not fixed. Markets once considered repugnant (eg lending money for interest, life insurance for adults) are no longer. Markets that are repugnant today (eg slavery), once were not.

Antitrust immunities

Surely it cannot be said … that competition is of itself a national policy. To do so would disregard not only those areas of economic activity so long committed to government monopoly as no longer to be thought open to competition, such as the post office, cf., e.g., 17 Stat. 292 (criminal offense to establish unauthorized post office; provision since superseded), and those areas, loosely spoken of as natural monopolies or-more broadly-public utilities, in which active regulation has been found necessary to compensate for the inability of competition to provide adequate regulation. It would most strikingly disregard areas where policy has shifted from one of prohibiting restraints on competition to one of providing relief from the rigors of competition, as has been true of railroads. 38

Some or all economic activity in various industries is expressly immunized from antitrust liability. 39 Other significant areas of the economy are subject to implied antitrust immunity. The Court’s state action doctrine, for example, reflects the realities of state and local governments’ displacing competition for other aims. 40

Noncommercial activities intended to promote social causes

any reason for putting in temperance societies any more than churches or school-houses or any other kind of moral or educational associations that may be organized. Such an association is not in any sense a combination arrangement made to interfere with interstate commerce. 42

Thus, the Sherman Act’s ‘trade or commerce’ element applies to transactions one can characterize as ‘business’ or ‘commercial’. 43 Several courts have held that if universities agree on the eligibility criteria for their student athletes, their eligibility rules are not subject to antitrust scrutiny. 44 Rather than intending to provide the universities with a commercial advantage, these rules governing recruiting, improper inducements, and academic fraud primarily seek ‘to ensure fair competition in intercollegiate athletics’. 45

Unfair methods of competition

on ethical, religious and social sources, American law has developed a minimum level or standard of ‘fairness’ in competitive rivalry. The law of unfair competition has developed as a kind of Marquis of Queensbury code for competitive infighting. To pursue the analogy, it would be equally as unacceptable for the contestants in a prize-fight to agree privately to ‘throw the fight’ as it would be for one contestant to insert a horseshoe in his glove. 48

In reviewing the section ‘Competition s acrificed’, the antitrust community would not quibble about eliminating or limiting competition in noncommercial activities. The antitrust community would debate over what constitutes fair and unfair methods of competition, but agree that not all methods of competition are desirable. The community would likely tolerate price and service regulations in some industries (eg natural monopolies) where competition is not feasible. 49 As for antitrust immunities, the consensus within the antitrust community is that they reflect the victory of special interest groups and the collective action problem of citizens. 50 Antitrust immunity is rarely a good thing, is rarely justifiable on the grounds of improving societal wellbeing, often outlives its intended purpose, and should be read ‘narrowly, with beady eyes and green eyeshades’. 51

The Sherman Act, embodying as it does a preference for competition, has been since its enactment almost an economic constitution for our complex national economy. A fair approach in the accommodation between the seemingly disparate goals of regulation and competition should be to assume that competition, and thus antitrust law, does operate unless clearly displaced. 52

In condemning private and public anti-competitive restraints, competition officials and courts invariably prescribe competition as the cure. Increasing competition ‘improves a country’s performance, opens business opportunities to its citizens and reduces the cost of goods and services throughout the economy’. 53 Competition, officials recognize, does not cure every market failure (such as from negative externalities or public goods). 54 Fierce competition ultimately may yield oligopolies or monopolies. But that is a function of market conditions, not competition itself. Competition itself cannot cause market failures.

first, each individual is the best judge of what subserves his own interest, and the motive of self-interest leads him to secure the maximum of well-being for himself; and, secondly, since society is merely the sum of individuals, the effort of each to secure the maximum of well-being for himself has as its necessary effect to secure thereby also the maximum of well-being for society as a whole. 55

Using the recent advances in behavioral economics, subsections ‘Behavioral exploitation’ and ‘Competitive escalation paradigm’ examine Fisher’s first assumption. Surveying some recent empirical economic work, subsections ‘When individual and group interests diverge’ and ‘When competition among intermediaries reduces accuracy’ examine Fisher’s second assumption.

Behavioral exploitation

Competition policy typically assumes that market participants can best judge what subserves their interests. 56 Once we relax the assumption of market participants’ rationality and willpower, then competition at times leaves consumers and society worse off. Suboptimal competition can arise when firms compete in fostering and exploiting demand-driven biases or imperfect willpower.

using framing effects and changing the reference point, such that the price change is viewed as a discount, rather than a surcharge; 59

anchoring consumers to an artificially high suggested retail price, from which bounded rational consumers negotiate; 60

adding decoy options (such as restaurant’s adding higher priced wine) to steer consumers to higher margin goods and services; 61

using the sunk cost fallacy to remind consumers of the financial commitment they already made to induce them to continue paying installments on items, whose value is less than the remainder of payments;

using the availability heuristic 62 to drive purchases, such as an airline travel insurer using an emotionally salient death (from ‘terrorist acts’) rather than a death from ‘all possible causes’; 63

using the focusing illusion in advertisements (ie consumers predicting greater personal happiness from consumption of the advertised good and not accounting one’s adaptation to the new product); 64 and

giving the impression that their goods and services are of better quality because they are higher priced 65 or based on one advertised dimension. 66

The credit card industry provides one example. Some consumers do not understand the complex, opaque ways late fees and interest rates are calculated, and are overoptimistic on their ability and willpower to timely pay off the credit card purchases. 67 They underestimate the costs of their future borrowings and overestimate their likelihood of switching to lower interest credit. 68 The consumers choose credit cards with lower annual fees (but higher financing fees and penalties) over better-suited products (eg credit cards with higher annual fees but lower interest rates and late payment penalties). 69

Rational companies can exploit consumers’ biases. 70 One former CEO, for example, explained how his credit card company targeted low-income customers ‘by offering “free” credit cards that carried heavy hidden fees’. 71 The former CEO explained how these ads targeted consumers’ optimism: ‘When people make the buying decision, they don’t look at the penalty fees because they never believe they’ll be late. They never believe they’ll be over limit, right?’ 72

For other credit card competitors, exploiting consumer biases makes more sense than incurring the costs to debias. 73 If a credit card issuer invests in educating consumers of the likely total costs of using the credit card, their bounded willpower, and their overconfidence, other competitors can free ride on the company’s educational efforts and quickly offer similar credit cards with lower fees. Alternatively, the debiased consumers do not remain with the helpful credit card company. Instead they switch to the remaining exploiting credit card firms, where they, along with the other sophisticated customers, benefit from the exploitation (such as getting airline miles for their purchases, while not incurring any late fees). 74 Under either scenario, debiasing reduces the credit card company’s profits, without offering any lasting competitive advantage. Consequently, the industry profits more in exploiting consumers’ bounded rationality. Naïve consumers will not demand better-suited products. Firms have little financial incentive to help naïve consumers choose better products. 75 Market supply skews toward products and services that exploit or reinforce consumers’ bounded willpower and rationality.

The most striking result of the literature so far is that increasing competition through fostering entry of more firms may not on its own always improve outcomes for consumers. Indeed competition may not help when there are at least some consumers who do not search properly or have difficulties judging quality and prices … In the presence of such consumers it is no longer clear that firms necessarily have an incentive to compete by offering better deals. Rather, they can focus on exploiting biased consumers who are very likely to purchase from them regardless of price and quality. These effects can be made worse through firms' deliberate attempts to make price comparisons and search harder (through complex pricing, shrouding, etc) and obscure product quality. The incentives to engage in such activities become more intense when there are more competitors. 76

It is important to note that once we relax the assumptions of rationality and willpower, it does not follow that competition ‘always’ yields suboptimal outcomes. 79 This suboptimal competition depends first on firms’ ability to identify and exploit consumers whose biases, heuristics, and willpower make them particularly vulnerable. Second, after identifying these consumers, firms must be able to exploit them. 80 Third, the payoff from exploiting must exceed the likely payoff from debiasing consumers. 81 Firms lack an incentive to debias if sophisticated consumers, for example, support the exploiting firms as the myopic consumers subsidize their perks. 82 Finally, naïve consumers cannot otherwise quickly debias by being provided information or otherwise learning from their errors and adjusting. Thus, with enough naïve consumers to profitably exploit in these markets, firms will compete in devising better ways to exploit them.

Consequently, both antitrust and consumer protection law can complement each other in promoting the opportunity for consumers to choose among the firms’ helpful solutions for their problems, while foreclosing suboptimal competition, where companies exploit consumers’ biases and imperfect willpower to the consumers’ and society’s detriment.

Competitive escalation paradigm

The previous subsection describes suboptimal competition to exploit consumers’ biases and imperfect willpower. But firms, like consumers, are also susceptible to biases and heuristics. In competitive settings—such as auctions and bidding wars—overconfidence and passion may trump reason, leading participants to overpay for the purchased assets. 83 Unlike demand-driven biases (eg overconfident consumers demanding inappropriate financial products), competition should check supply-driven biases. Consumers, in competitive markets, presumably punish firms’ costly biases by taking their business elsewhere. If repeated biased decision-making is not punished, the problem is too little, rather than too much, competition.

One exception is the competitive escalation paradigm, when ‘two parties engage in an activity that is clearly irrational in terms of the expected outcomes to both sides, despite the fact that it is difficult to identify specific irrational actions by either party’. 84 To demonstrate this paradigm, Professors Max Bazerman and Don Moore auction a $20 bill. 85 The auction proceeds in dollar increments. The highest bidder wins the $20 bill; but the second highest bidder, as the loser, must pay the auctioneer his or her bid. (So if the highest bid is $4, the winner receives $16; if the second highest bid is $3, the loser must pay $3 to the auctioneer.)

Bidding over $20 for a $20 bill is illogical. Given the cost of losing, it is also illogical to enter a bidding war. But if everyone believes this, no one bids—also illogical. If only one person bids, that person gets a bargain. Once multiple bidders emerge, the second highest bidder fears having to pay and escalates the commitment. As a result, the bidding in experiments with undergraduate students, graduate students, and executives ‘typically ends between $20 and $70, but hits $100 with some regularity’. 86

Bazerman and Moore analogize their experiment to merger contests. Competitors A and B, in their example, fear being competitively disadvantaged if the other acquires cheaply Company C, a key supplier or buyer. 87 Company C, worth $1 billion as a standalone company, is worth $1.2 billion under either Firm A’s or B’s ownership. If Firm A acquires Company C, then Firm B, having lost its key supplier or buyer, would be significantly disadvantaged, at an estimated cost of $500 million. The same applies to Firm A if Firm B acquires Company C. Firms A and B may rationally decide to enter the bidding contest. Both are better off if the other cannot acquire Company C, nonetheless neither can afford the other to acquire the firm. Firms A and B, to avoid the $0.5 billion loss, could escalate the bidding to around $1.7 billion. 88 One example of this competitive escalation paradigm, argue Bazerman and Moore, is when Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific overbid for Guidant. 89

Here clear antitrust standards can benefit the competitors. If they both know they cannot acquire Company C under the antitrust laws, neither will bid. Antitrust, while not always preventing the competitive escalation paradigm, can prevent overbidding in highly concentrated industries where market forces cannot punish firms that overbid.

When individual and group interests diverge

Suppose the first assumption Fisher identifies is satisfied—people aptly judge what serves their interest, which leads them to maximize their well-being. One avoids the problem of behavioral exploitation and perhaps the competitive escalation paradigm. Nonetheless, as this subsection discusses, competition can be suboptimal if the second key assumption Fisher identifies is relaxed—namely the effort of each person to secure well-being has as its necessary effect to maximize society’s overall well-being.

As Darwin saw clearly, the fact that unfettered competition in nature often fails to promote the common good has nothing to do with monopoly exploitation. Rather, it’s a simple consequence of an often sharp divergence between individual and group interests. 91

One area of suboptimal competition is where advantages and disadvantages are relative. 92 Frank used the bull elk as an example. It is in each elk’s interest to have relatively larger antlers to defeat other bull elks. But the larger antlers compromise the elks’ mobility, handicapping the group overall. 93

Hockey players are another example. Hockey players prefer wearing helmets. But to secure a relative competitive advantage, one player chooses to play without a helmet. The other players follow. None now have a competitive advantage from playing helmetless. Collectively the hockey players are worse off. 94 Fisher’s example involves patrons competing to exit a theater on fire; it is in each individual’s interest to get ahead of others, but ‘the very intensity of such efforts in the aggregate defeat their own ends’. 95

A recent example is Wall Street traders who inject testosterone to obtain a competitive advantage. 96 One study found that traders’ daily testosterone ‘was significantly higher on days when traders made more than their 1-month daily average than on other days’; the ‘results suggest that high morning testosterone predicts greater profitability for the rest of that day’. 97 Higher testosterone levels, studies found, increased ‘search persistence, appetite for risk, and fearlessness in the face of novelty, qualities that would augment the performance of any trader who had a positive expected return’. 98 Male and female traders, weighing the benefits and risks, can rationally decide to increase their testosterone levels to gain a competitive advantage over other traders (or at least not be competitively disadvantaged against higher testosterone traders). 99 However, as other traders undertake hormone treatments, the traders no longer enjoy a competitive advantage. They and society are collectively worse off. 100

Below are five additional scenarios where competition for a relative advantage can leave the competitors collectively and society worse off.

How individual and group interests can diverge when firms lobby for a relative competitive advantage

Today corporations and trade groups spend billions of dollars lobbying the federal and state governments. 101 Microsoft, for example, historically did little lobbying. 102 That changed after the United States filed its antitrust lawsuit. Microsoft now spends millions of dollars annually on lobbying. 103 Not surprisingly, given the recent antitrust scrutiny, Google spends even more on lobbying—$9,680,000 alone in 2011. 104

In this transactional spirit, some corporations have affirmatively urged Congress to place limits on their electioneering communications. These corporations fear that officeholders will shake them down for supportive ads, that they will have to spend increasing sums on elections in an ever-escalating arms race with their competitors, and that public trust in business will be eroded. A system that effectively forces corporations to use their shareholders' money both to maintain access to, and to avoid retribution from, elected officials may ultimately prove more harmful than beneficial to many corporations. It can impose a kind of implicit tax. 106

The competitive pressure to lobby for a relative advantage (or prevent a relative disadvantage) harms the firms collectively as they ‘feel compelled to keep up with their competitors, particularly in the face of a shakedown by elected officials who write the laws and regulations that corporations must follow on a daily basis’. 107 This arms race also undermines a democracy. 108 Part of the current malaise, the Occupy Wall Street movement reflects, is the distrust in government given its capture to special interests. 109

How individual and group interests can diverge when firms behave unethically for a relative competitive advantage

When presented with a list of possibly questionable actions that may help the business survive, 47 per cent of CFOs felt one or more could be justified in an economic downturn. Worryingly, 15 per cent of CFOs surveyed would be willing to make cash payments to win or retain business and 4 per cent view misstating a company's financial performance as justifiable to help a business survive. While 46 per cent of total respondents agree that company management is likely to cut corners to meet targets, CFOs have an even more pessimistic view (52 per cent). 110

invest less in legal compliance and more likely violate the law, 112

pay kickbacks to secure business, 113

underreport profits to avoid taxes, 114 and

manipulate the ordering protocols on liver transplants. 115

The studies’ underlying theme is that as competition increases, and profit margins decrease, firms have greater incentive to engage in unethical behavior that improves their costs (relative to competitors). Other firms, given the cost disadvantage, face competitive pressure to follow; such competition collectively leaves the firms and society worse off. 116

Not surprisingly the business literature currently argues for a ‘more sophisticated form of capitalism, one imbued with a social purpose’. 117 In the past, the concepts of sustainability, fairness, and profitability generally were seen as conflicting. But under a shared value worldview, these concepts are reinforcing. 118 Profits can be attained, not through a competitive race to the bottom, but in better helping address societal needs.

How individual and group interests can diverge when financial institutions undertake additional risk for a relative competitive advantage

First, the opacity and the long maturity of banks' assets make it easier to cover any misallocation of resources, at least in the short run. Second, the wide dispersion of bank debt among small, uninformed (and often fully insured) investors prevents any effective discipline on banks from the side of depositors. Thus, because banks can behave less prudently without being easily detected or being forced to pay additional funding costs, they have stronger incentives to take risk than firms in other industries. Examples of fraud and excessive risk are numerous in the history of financial systems as the current crisis has also shown. 119

An overleveraged financial institution can ignore the small probability that its risky conduct in conjunction with its competitors’ risky conduct may bring down the entire economy. 120 To gain additional profits and a competitive advantage, each firm will incur greater leverage. Even for rational-choice theorists like Richard Posner, the government must be a countervailing force to such self-interested rational private behavior by better regulating financial institutions. 121 Otherwise competition among rational self-interested ‘law-abiding financiers and consumers can precipitate an economic disaster’. 122

One may ask if competition is the problem, then is monopoly the cure. The remedy is neither monopoly nor overregulation (which besides impeding competition, stifles innovation and renders the financial system inefficient or unprofitable). But the remedy is not simply more competition, which can increase the financial system’s instability, as banks increase leverage and risk. 123 Instead, the financial industry must be ‘competitive enough to provide a range of services at a reasonable price for consumers, but [is] not prone to periods of excess competition, where risk is under priced (for example, to gain market share) and competitors fail as a result with systemic consequences’. 124

How individual and group interests can diverge when firms demand Most-Favored-Nation (MFN) clauses for a relative competitive advantage

MFN clauses, the subject of two recent DOJ enforcement actions, are topical. 125 Some courts have embraced MFNs as pro-competitive. MFN clauses, Posner wrote, ‘are standard devices by which buyers try to bargain for low prices, by getting the seller to agree to treat them as favorably as any of their other customers’. 126 This ‘is the sort of conduct that the antitrust laws seek to encourage’. 127 Likewise, another court found that the MFN’s ‘insisting on a supplier's lowest price—assuming that the price is not “predatory” or below the supplier's incremental cost—tends to further competition on the merits’. 128 It seemed ‘silly’ to the court ‘to argue that a policy to pay the same amount for the same service is anticompetitive, even on the part of one who has market power. This, it would seem, is what competition should be all about’. 129

An individual customer may rationally wish to have advance notice of price increases, uniform delivered pricing, or most favored nation clauses available in connection with the purchase of antiknock compounds. However, individual purchasers are often unable to perceive or to measure the overall effect of all sellers pursuing the same practices with many buyers, and do not understand or appreciate the benefit of prohibiting the practices to improve the competitive environment … .a most favored nation clause is perceived by individual buyers to guarantee low prices; whereas widespread use of the clauses has the opposite effect of keeping prices high and uniform. In short, marketing practices that are preferred by both sellers and buyers may still have an anticompetitive effect. 131

What the appellate court failed to grasp is that MFNs—while individually rational—can be collectively irrational. 134 MFNs assure buyers that others during a specific time period will not pay a lower price. If the buyers fiercely compete, MFNs seemingly provide a relative cost advantage. The buyer need not expend time and expense to negotiate a lower price; it can free ride on other buyers’ efforts. It is in each buyer’s individual interest to secure this cost advantage; thus buyers may demand, and sellers may offer, MFN protection. 135 Competition drives buyers to demand MFN protection to lower their transaction costs; the number of buyers willing to invest in procuring a discount shrink. (Why should they uniquely incur the cost, when the benefits accrue to their rivals?) Accordingly, ‘buyer competition to obtain most-favored-customer protection, in the end, can cost buyers as a group’. 136

How individual and group interests can diverge when consumers compete for status

Status competition epitomizes competition for relative position among consumers with interdependent preferences. 137 The ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, 138 early Christian theologians, 139 and economists Adam Smith 140 and Thorstein Veblen 141 described how status competition is never won. Either people adapt to their fancier lifestyle, and envy those on the higher rung. 142 Or others catch up in their consumption (eg similarly large homes, extravagant parties), increasing the demand for conspicuous consumption or leisure that provide a relative advantage.

Despite status competition’s durability and prevalence, few praise it. C. S. Lewis, for example, observed that pride generally is the ‘essential vice’ and ‘complete anti-God state of mind’. 143 Pride is competition awry: ‘Pride is essentially competitive—is competitive by its very nature—while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident.’ 144 Pride, Lewis also wrote, ‘has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began’. 145

Status competition not only taxes individuals but society overall. 146 As economists that study subjective well-being conclude, ‘[h]igher-income aspirations reduce people’s satisfaction with life.’ 147 Wealthier people impose a negative externality on poorer people. 148 Antitrust norms, such as a per se prohibition of resale price maintenance for status goods, 149 are also difficult to reconcile with status competition where individual and collective interests can diverge to consumers’ and society’s detriment. 150

Status competition has confounded consumers and economists for centuries. John Maynard Keynes, for example, assumed that with greater productivity and higher living standards, people in developed economies would work only fifteen hours per week. 151 He identified two classes of needs—‘those needs which are absolute in the sense that we feel them whatever the situation of our fellow human beings may be, and those which are relative in the sense that we feel them only if their satisfaction lifts us above, makes us feel superior to, our fellows.’ 152 As its economy developed, Keynes predicted, society would deemphasize the importance of relative needs. 153

Much has been said of late about the importance of living the simple life, but so far as I know there has been no analysis to show why it is not lived. This analysis would reveal that the failure to live it is due to a kind of unconscious cut-throat competition in fashionable society. 155

Status competition is often, but not always, detrimental. On the bright side, people voluntarily compete and use Internet peer pressure to change their energy consumption, driving, and exercise habits. 156 But status competition is often suboptimal. One interesting empirical study sought to understand why academics cheated by inflating the number of times their papers were downloaded on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN). 157 SSRN ranks authors, their papers, and their academic institutions by the number of times the papers are downloaded. 158 Some authors repeatedly downloaded their own papers to inflate the publicly recorded download count. Why the deception? Status competition, the study found, was a key contributor. 159

a collective action problem, 160

a race to the bottom or regulatory arbitrage—where states compete away environmental, safety, and labor protections to obtain a relative advantage, 161 or

rational irrationality, whereby the ‘application of rational self-interest in the marketplace leads to an inferior and socially irrational outcome’. 162

Some may argue that these scenarios simply involve competitors’ imposing negative externalities on one another. Negative externalities typically involve ‘situations when the effect of production or consumption of goods and services imposes costs or benefits on others which are not reflected in the prices charged for the goods and services being provided’. 163 Even if one viewed competition itself as a negative externality that a competitor imposes on rivals, an important distinction exists. Firms—independent of any competitive pressure—at times impose a negative externality to maximize profits. For example, electric power utilities, whether or not a monopoly, will seek to maximize profits by polluting cheaply and having the community bear the environmental and health costs. In contrast, as this subsection discusses, competition induces the firm to impose a negative externality, which absent competitive pressure, the firm would ‘not’ otherwise impose. The utility monopoly, for example, may lobby to keep abay pesky environmentalists, but it would not expend resources on lobbying to secure a relative competitive advantage when its market power is otherwise secure.

When competition among intermediaries reduces accuracy

The previous subsection identifies five scenarios where competition for a relative advantage leaves the competitors and society worse off. This subsection discusses another race to the bottom, namely when consumers pressure an intermediary to shade its findings to the consumers’ liking, but society’s overall detriment. As competition increases in the intermediary’s market, more will be willing to distort their findings and reduce accuracy, which may appeal to the individual customers, but harms society overall.

Underlying democracies is the belief that competition fosters the marketplace of ideas: truth prevails in the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources. 164 Competition should, and often does, improve accuracy. 165

But competition can decrease accuracy when intermediaries, who monitor or report market participants’ businesses, property, goods, services, or behavior, also compete for the market participants’ business. One cannot characterize this simply as an incentives problem, whereby the intermediary shades its findings to the customers’ liking because the customer pays for the service. For if the problem were attributable primarily to misaligned incentives, then the problem would arise in duopolies, and be unaffected by entry and increased competition. Here, misaligned incentives play an important role, but so do increased entry and competition. 166 The concern is that competition increases the pressure on intermediaries to engage in unethical behavior.

This subsection discusses two industries, where, as recent economic studies found, greater competition yielded more unethical conduct among intermediaries. But this problem can arise in other markets as well. Home appraisers, pressured by threats of losing business to competitors, inflate their valuations to the benefit of real estate brokers (who gain higher commissions) and lenders (who make bigger loans and earn greater returns when selling them to investors). 167 Facing competitive pressure, lawyers can also adopt ‘a stronger adversarial and client-centered approach in the hope that this stance will be rewarded by clients' preferences’; more complaints about lawyer misconduct ensue. 168 Thus markets where intermediaries can manipulate information and test results can enjoy greater efficiency with less competition.

Ratings industry

(i) to measure the credit risk of an obligor and help to resolve the fundamental information asymmetry between issuers and investors, (ii) to provide a means of comparison of embedded credit risk across issuers, instruments, countries and over time; and (iii) to provide market participants with a common standard or language to use in referring to credit risk. 169
The growth and development of the market in structured finance and associated increase in securitisation activity occurred at a time when Fitch Ratings was becoming a viable competitor to Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, in effect, breaking up the duopoly the two [rating agencies] had previously enjoyed. The increased competition resulted in significant ratings grade inflation as the agencies competed for market share. Importantly, the ratings inflation was attributable not to the valuation models used by the agencies, but rather to systematic departures from those models, as the agencies made discretionary upward adjustments in ratings in efforts to retain or capture business, a direct consequence of the issuer-pays business model and increased concentration among investment banks. Issuers could credibly threaten to take their business elsewhere. 175
unveiled a new credit-rating model that Wall Street banks used to sow the seeds of their own demise. The formula allowed securities firms to sell more top-rated, subprime mortgage-backed bonds than ever before. A week later, Standard & Poor's moved to revise its own methods. An S&P executive urged colleagues to adjust rating requirements for securities backed by commercial properties because of the ‘threat of losing deals’. The world's two largest bond-analysis providers repeatedly eased their standards as they pursued profits from structured investment pools sold by their clients, according to company documents, e-mails and interviews with more than 50 Wall Street professionals. It amounted to a ‘market-share war where criteria were relaxed,’ says former S&P Managing Director Richard Gugliada. 177
In 2006 alone, Moody’s put its triple-A stamp of approval on 30 mortgage-related securities every working day. The results were disastrous: 83% of the mortgage securities rated triple-A that year ultimately were downgraded. 182

Even in the staid world of corporate bonds, increased competition among the ratings agencies led to a worse outcome. One empirical economic study looked at corporate bond and issuer ratings between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s. During this period, Fitch Ratings shook up the S&P/Moody’s duopoly by substantially increasing its share of corporate bond ratings. 183 It was Moody’s and S&P’s policy to rate essentially all taxable corporate bonds publicly issued in the USA. So Moody’s and S&P, under their policy, should have had little incentive to inflate their ratings for corporate bonds: ‘even if an issuer refuses to pay for a rating, the raters publish it anyway as an unsolicited rating and thereby compromise any potential advantage of ratings shopping’. 184 But even here, as competition intensified, ratings quality for corporate bonds and issuers deteriorated with more AAA ratings by S&P and Moody’s, and greater inability of the ratings to explain bond yields and predict defaults. 185

Consequently, increased competition among the ratings agencies, rather than improve ratings quality, reduced quality to society’s detriment. It is now the subject of lawsuits—with allegations that the financial institutions, by ‘play[ing] the [rating] agencies off one another’ and choosing the agency offering the highest percentage of AAA certificates with the least amount of credit enhancements, ‘engender[ed] a race to the bottom in terms of rating quality’. 186 The authors of the ratings study concluded that ‘competition most likely weakens reputational incentives for providing quality in the ratings industry and, thereby, undermines quality. The reputational mechanism appears to work best at modest levels of competition.’ 187

Automotive emissions testing centers

Another recent economic study empirically tested whether more competition among New York’s vehicle emissions testing centers led to a worse outcome—namely testing centers improperly passing vehicles ‘to garner more consumer loyalty for delivering to consumers what they want: a passing Smog Check result’. 188

In New York, like other states, automobile owners must have their vehicles periodically tested for pollution control. Owners can choose which private testing center to check their auto’s compliance with the environmental emission standards. In this market, the government fixed the price of emission testing. So the testing centers competed along non-price dimensions (such as quick testing and passing vehicles that otherwise should flunk). 189 Car owners could retest any failing car at another facility. Moreover, car owners received a one-year waiver if they spent $450 and the vehicle continued to fail. ‘With these limitations, the short-term benefit of failing a vehicle pales in comparison to the long-term benefit of retaining the customer’s service and repair business.’ 190

Under such pressure, firms that strictly follow legal rules may lose considerable market share as customers flee to more lax firms. When competition increases the threat of customer loss, firms are more likely to respond by matching their rivals’ behavior and crossing legal boundaries. 194

Antitrust typically treats entrants as superheroes in deterring or defeating the exercise of market power. Here entrants, the study found, were likelier the villains. New vehicle testing entrants with limited customer bases were ‘more likely than incumbents to be lenient in the face of competition’. 195 Entrants, rather than remedy market failure, contributed to it. 196

Policy makers must consider whether competition is the ideal market structure when corruption, fraud, or other unethical behaviors yield competitive advantages. If customers indeed demand illicit dimensions of quality, firms may feel compelled to cross ethical and legal boundaries simply to survive, often in response to the unethical behavior of just a few of their rivals. In markets with such potential, concentration with abnormally high prices and rents may be preferable, given the reduced prevalence of corruption. 197

The Supreme Court recognized that competition could increase vice. But equating ‘competition with deception, like the similar equation with safety hazards’, was for the Court ‘simply too broad’. 198 The Court was willing to assume that competition was ‘not entirely conducive to ethical behavior’ but that was ‘not a reason, cognizable under the Sherman Act, for doing away with competition’. 199 The Court was unwilling to support ‘a defense based on the assumption that competition itself is unreasonable’. 200

This article agrees that a ‘suboptimal competition’ defense is premature. This article simply examines the initial issue of whether competition in a market economy is always good. If, as this article explores, the answer is no, a separate institutional issue is whether we should allow private parties to deal with these types of failures or whether legislation is required. Once antitrust officials recognize that market competition produces at times suboptimal results, the debate shifts to whether the problem of suboptimal competition can be better resolved privately (by perhaps relaxing antitrust scrutiny to private restraints) or with additional governmental regulations (which in turn raises issues over the form of the regulation and who should regulate). Even if one concludes that private restraints were the solution, the economic literature has not developed sufficiently an analytical framework for courts and agencies to apply, consistent with the rule of law, a suboptimal competition defense. Nor is it necessarily superior that independent agencies or courts (rather than elected officials) determine which industries receive a suboptimal competition defense, when, and under what circumstances. Society may prefer that the more publicly accountable elected officials, despite the risk of rent-seeking, should decide when competition is suboptimal.

Accordingly, antitrust officials should continue to advocate competition and challenge private and public anti-competitive restraints. But competition in a market economy, while often good, is not always good. The economic literature draws into question the competition official’s traditional remedy of more competition. The literature should prompt officials to inquire when competition promotes behavioral exploitation, unethical behavior, and misery.

Some may fear this weakens competition advocacy, as rent-seekers will use the exceptions described herein to restrict socially beneficial competition. But to effectively advocate competition, officials must understand when more competition is the problem, not the cure. In better understanding these instances when competition does more harm than good, antitrust officials can more effectively debunk claims of suboptimal competition. By undertaking this inquiry, antitrust officials become smarter and better advocates.

I wish to thank for their helpful comments the participants at Oxford University and George Washington University’s Antitrust Enforcement Symposium and the Midwest Law and Economics Association’s Annual Meeting, Luca Arnaudo, Caron Beaton-Wells, Kenneth Davidson, John Davies, Harry First, Franklin Fisher, Thomas Horton, Max Huffman, Christopher Leslie, Stephen Martin, Jochen Meulman, Anne-Lise Sibony, Randy Stutz, Henry Su, and Spencer Weber Waller. I also thank the University of Tennessee College of Law for the summer research grant.

1 Flash Eurobarometer, Entrepreneurship in the EU and beyond, Flash EB Series #283 (May 2010) 11 [American respondents ‘were more likely than EU citizens and Chinese respondents to say they were risk-takers and liked competition (77%-82%); in comparison, the proportions for EU citizens were 55%-65% and for Chinese respondents, 65%-69%’], 88 [‘Respondents in the US most frequently agreed that they liked situations in which they competed with others (77%, in total, agreed and 41% “‘strongly agreed”) ’].

2 See, eg George S Patton (‘Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base.’) < > accessed 7 January 2013.

3 Standard Oil Co v FTC 340 US 231, 248 (1951); see also Antitrust Modernization Commission, Report and Recommendations (April 2007) 2 < > accessed 7 January 2013 (‘free-market competition is, and has long been, the fundamental economic policy of the United States’); Report to the President and the Attorney General of the National Commission for the Review of Antitrust Laws and Procedures (1979) 177 [hereinafter 1979 Antitrust Report ]; The Attorney General’s National Committee to Study the Antitrust Laws (1955) 1 (‘Most Americans have long recognized that opportunity for free market access and fostering of market rivalry are basic tenets of our faith in competition as a form of economic organization.’) [hereinafter 1955 Antitrust Report ]; see also European Commission, Competition, in Glossary of Terms Used in EU Competition Policy: Antitrust and Control of Concentrations (July 2002) (describing ‘[f]air and undistorted competition’ as ‘a cornerstone of a market economy’).

4 The agency’s advocate for competition for each procuring activity is responsible for, inter alia, ‘challenging barriers to, and promoting full and open competition in, the procurement of property and services by the executive agency’ and identifying ‘opportunities and actions taken to achieve full and open competition in the procurement activities of the executive agency’. 41 USC s 1705.

5 World Bank, World Development Report 2002: Building Institutions for Markets (2002) 133; Paul Crampton, Head, Outreach Unit, Competition Division, OECD, ‘Competition and Efficiency as Organising Principles for All Economic and Regulatory Policymaking’, Prepared for the First Meeting of the Latin American Competition Forum (7–8 April 2003) 2 (advocating ‘competition and efficiency [as the] policy “glue” that links and binds all economic and regulatory decision-making into a coherent framework’).

6 China viewed, until the late 1970s, the term competition pejoratively as a ‘capitalist monster.’ Xiaoye Wang, ‘The New Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law: A Survey of a Work in Progress’ (2009) 54 Antitrust Bull 579, 580. Now China, Russia, and India have competition laws.

7 International Competition Network, Advocacy and Competition Policy—Report prepared by the Advocacy Working Group, for the ICN’s Conference Naples, Italy, 2002 (2002) xi.

8 Crampton (n 3) 3.

9 N Pac Ry Co v US 356 US 1, 4 (1958).

10 Advocacy Working Group, Int’l Competition Network, ‘Advocacy Toolkit Part I: Advocacy Process and Tools’, presented at the 10th Annual Conference of the ICN, The Hague (May 2011) 5 < > accessed 7 January 2013 (‘When they engage in competition advocacy, competition agencies may aim to [1] persuade other public authorities not to adopt unnecessarily anticompetitive measures and help them clearly to delineate the boundaries of economic regulation [2] increase awareness of the benefits of competition, and of the role competition law and policy can play in promoting and protecting welfare enhancing competition wherever possible, among economic agents, public authorities, the judicial system and the public at large.’).

11 Stamatakis Indus, Inc v King 965 F 2d 469, 471 (7th Cir 1992), citing Edward A Snyder and Thomas E Kauper, ‘Misuse of the Antitrust Laws: The Competitor Plaintiff’ (1991) 90 Mich L Rev 551.

12 Carl Shapiro, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, US Dep’t of Justice, Antitrust Div, Competition Policy in Distressed Industries, Remarks Prepared for ABA Antitrust Symposium: Competition as Public Policy (13 May 2009) 9, < > accessed 7 January 2013; see also Joaquín Almunia, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Competition Policy, ‘Competition Policy as a Pan-European Effort’ (2 October 2012) SPEECH/12/672, < > accessed 7 January 2013.

13 Shapiro (ibid) 2: ‘The current crisis provides no basis for wavering from this core principle, which has enjoyed bipartisan support since the Sherman Act was passed in 1890.’

14 Composite Marine Propellers, Inc v Van Der Woude 962 F 2d 1263, 1268 (7th Cir 1992) (‘Competition is ruthless, unprincipled, uncharitable, unforgiving-and a boon to society, Adam Smith reminds us, precisely because of these qualities that make it a bane to other producers.’).

15 Maurice E Stucke, ‘What is Competition?’ in Daniel Zimmer (ed), The Goals Of Competition Law (Edward Elgar Publishing 2012); Maurice E Stucke, ‘Reconsidering Competition’ (2011) 81 Mississippi LJ 107.

16 Douglass C North, Understanding the Process of Economic Change (Princeton University Press 2005) 52; RH Coase, ‘The Institutional Structure of Production’ (1992) 82 Am Econ Rev 713, 717–18; FA Hayek in Bruce Caldwell (ed), The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents – The Definitive Edition (University of Chicago Press 2007) 87: Competition ‘depends, above all, on the existence of an appropriate legal system, a legal system designed both to preserve competition and to make sure it operates as beneficially as possible.’

17 High entry barriers, as John Davies illustrated to me with the example below, are also consistent with suboptimal competition. In most markets, one assumes that if a merger reduces choice in a way that damages consumer welfare, that creates an opportunity for a choice-restoring entrant. However, at times, the degree of choice does not evolve in a market, but is imposed. Suppose there are two types of grocery chains–high quality/high price gourmet supermarkets and every-day-low-price/low-service supermarkets. Suppose a town has two supermarkets: A (gourmet) and B (discounter). Suppose C (a chain of discount supermarkets) buys Chain A, and finds it more profitable to change A’s product offering to C’s private label in all the Chain A supermarkets. Now the town has two deep-discount supermarkets: Chains B and C. In some countries, like the UK, the available space (under the land planning system) for supermarkets is limited. Entry will not correct the local worsening of the choice available to consumers, and reduction in aggregate consumer welfare. A competition agency, however, would unlikely challenge the supermarket merger, as competition will likely increase, not decrease, post-merger. Indeed, instead of the weak competition between the highly differentiated high-end Supermarket A and low-end offerings of Supermarket B, the town now enjoys head-to-head competition in the same discount segment. But there is a loss of choice. Some consumers preferred A’s high-end offering. Many—probably most—will have shopped at both stores, for different items. All of those people have lost some welfare. As Davies observed, this scenario may be unique to industries like retail chain mergers, when the new owners change the products on sale immediately to match its house brands, which may not hold true of other types of goods and services. But Davies raises an interesting example where competition increases but consumer welfare decreases. Another example is competition among producers of harmful goods. See, eg Daniel A Crane, ‘Harmful Output in the Antitrust Domain: Lessons from the Tobacco Industry’ (2005) 39 Ga L Rev 321, 409.

18 Nat'l Soc of Prof'l Engineers v US 435 US 679, 695 (1978).

19 AMC Report (n 3) 2–3; World Bank (n 5) 133; David J Gerber, Law and Competition in Twentieth Century Europe: Protecting Prometheus (OUP 1998) 242–45; 1979 Antitrust Report (n 3) 178–79; 1955 Antitrust Report (n 3) 1–2, 317–18; William J Kolasky, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, US Dep’t of Justice, Antitrust Div, ‘The Role of Competition in Promoting Dynamic Markets and Economic Growth’ (12 November 2002), 2002 WL 34170825 (DOJ) (‘The competition for capital and other resources by firms throughout the economy leads to money and resources flowing away from weak, uncompetitive sectors and firms and towards the strongest, most competitive sectors, and to the strongest and most competitive firms within those sectors. In these ways, the very operation of the competitive process makes decisions on restructuring clear, and leads to the strongest and most competitive economy possible.’).

20 James C Cooper and others, ‘Theory and Practice of Competition Advocacy at the FTC’ (2005) 72 Antitrust LJ 1091, 1093 n6 (charting the shifts in FTC advocacy filings between 1980 and 2004).

21 Advocacy Working Group, Int’l Competition Network, ‘Advocacy and Competition Policy Report’ (2002) 25 < > accessed 7 January 2013 (‘Competition advocacy refers to those activities conducted by the competition authority related to the promotion of a competitive environment for economic activities by means of non-enforcement mechanisms, mainly through its relationship with other governmental entities and by increasing public awareness of the benefits of competition’).

22 US Dep't of Justice & Fed. Trade Comm'n, ‘Antitrust Enforcement and Intellectual Property Rights: Promoting Innovation and Competition’ (2007) 1, 2, < > accessed 7 January 2013 (‘intellectual property law's grant of exclusivity was seen as creating monopolies that were in tension with antitrust law's attack on monopoly power. Such generalizations are relegated to the past. Modern understanding of these two disciplines is that intellectual property and antitrust laws work in tandem to bring new and better technologies, products, and services to consumers at lower prices. . . . Both spur competition among rivals to be the first to enter the marketplace with a desirable technology, product, or service.’); Christopher R Leslie, ‘Antitrust and Patent Law as Component Parts of Innovation Policy’ (2009) 34 J Corp Law 1259 (discussing how antitrust and IP law are ‘neither always in tension nor always complementary’ but intertwined components of an overall innovation policy that maximizes both static and dynamic competition).

23 Lektro-Vend Corp v Vendo Co 660 F 2d 255, 265 (7th Cir 1981) (‘The recognized benefits of reasonably enforced noncompetition covenants are by now beyond question.’); US v Addyston Pipe & Steel Co 85 F 271, 281-82 (6th Cir 1898), aff'd as modified, 175 US 211 (1899).

24 See, eg US v Socony-Vacuum Oil Co 310 US 150, 220–21 (1940) (‘Ruinous competition, financial disaster, evils of price cutting and the like appear throughout our history as ostensible justifications for price-fixing.’); Addyston Pipe & Steel , 175 US at 213–14 (defendants defending their bid rigging ‘for the purpose of avoiding the great losses they would otherwise sustain, due to ruinous competition’). But in Appalachian Coals, Inc v United States , the Court held that the competitors’ proposed price-fixing did not violate the Sherman Act if the horizontal restraints were not detrimental to the Court’s conception of ‘fair competition’. 288 US 344, 373 (1933). The coal producers were confronted with the oversupply of coal, exacerbated in part by certain ‘destructive’ trade practices, such as buyers dumping ‘distressed’ coal (due in part to lack of storage facilities) onto the market. In response to industry conditions, coal producers proposed an exclusive selling agent to enable the former competing producers to fix the coal prices.

25 Daron Acemoglu and James A Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty (Crown Business 2012) 3–4; World Bank (n 5) 135.

26 Farmland Dairies v Comm’r of New York State Dept of Agric & Markets 650 F Supp 939, 943 (EDNY 1987) [quoting Commissioner’s Determination, State of New York Department of Agriculture and Markets 21 (11 December 1986)].

27 See, eg Blankenship v Lewis County Fiscal Court Civ Act No 06-147-EBA, 2007 WL 4404165 (ED Ky 17 December 2007) (county government denying plaintiff permit to collect and haul away residents’ waste ‘on the grounds that permitting additional waste hauling businesses to operate in Lewis County would create too much competition for the existing seven businesses providing that service to the community’).

28 Jean Decety and others, ‘The Neural Bases of Cooperation and Competition: an fMRI Investigation’ (2004) 23 NeuroImage 744, 749 (finding that while cooperation and competition activated the frontoparietal network and anterior insula, ‘distinct regions were found to be selectively associated with cooperation and competition, notably the orbitofrontal cortex in the former and the inferior parietal and medial prefrontal cortices in the latter.’).

29 Saul Levmore, ‘Competition and Cooperation’ (1998) 97 Michigan L Rev 216.

30 Stefania Ottone and Ferruccio Ponzano, ‘Competition and Cooperation in Markets: The Experimental Case of a Winner-take-all Setting’ (2010) 39 J of Socio-Economics 163, 169–70 (finding that in winner-take-all scenario where subjects with homogeneous skills meet more than once stimulates greater cooperation than subjects in a perfect competition scenario); Claudia Canegallo and others, ‘Competition Versus Cooperation: Some Experimental Evidence’ (2008) 37 J of Socio-Economics 18, 24–25 (finding ‘the presence and the degree of competition in the economic environment significantly affect the willingness of individuals to cooperate, in a negative relation’).

31 The American Academy of Pediatrics, Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12 (Bantam 1999) 367–72.

32 Daniel Kahneman and Alan B Krueger, ‘Development in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being’ (2006) 20 J of Economic Perspectives 3, 13.

33 Compl , US v Adobe Systems, Inc , Civ Act No 1:10-cv-01629 (DDC filed 24 September 2010) < > accessed 7 January 2013.

34 Daniel M Hungerman, ‘Rethinking the Study of Religious Markets’ in Rachel McCleary (ed), The Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Religion (OUP 2010) 257–75.

35 Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church VIIth Plenary Session, Balamand School of Theology (Lebanon) (17–24 June 1993) < > accessed 7 January 2013 (‘Pastoral activity in the Catholic Church, Latin as well as Oriental, no longer aims at having the faithful of one Church pass over to the other; that is to say, it no longer aims at proselytizing among the Orthodox. It aims at answering the spiritual needs of its own faithful and it has no desire for expansion at the expense of the Orthodox Church. Within these perspectives, so that there will be no longer place for mistrust and suspicion, it is necessary that there be reciprocal exchanges of information about various pastoral projects and that thus cooperation between bishops and all those with responsibilities in our Churches, can be set in motion and develop.’), but see Barak D Richman, ‘Saving the First Amendment from Itself: Relief from the Sherman Act Against the Rabbinic Cartels’ (21 April 2012) Pepperdine L Rev, Forthcoming < > accessed 7 January 2013 (discussing antitrust challenge of the Conservative Judaism movement’s rules governing the rabbi hiring process).

36 Alvin E Roth, ‘Repugnance as a Constraint on Markets’ (2007) 21 J of Economic Perspectives 37–58; Michael J Sandel, ‘What Isn’t for Sale’ The Atlantic (April 2002) < > accessed 7 January 2013.

37 Roth (ibid) 44–45; Dan Bilefsky, ‘European Crisis Bolsters Illegal Sales of Body Parts’ N Y Times (1 June 2012) < > accessed 7 January 2013; French Civil Code Art 16-1 (‘Everyone has the right to respect for his body. The human body is inviolable. The human body, its elements and its products may not form the subject of a patrimonial right.’) and Art 16-5 (‘Agreements that have the effect of bestowing a patrimonial value to the human body, its elements or products are void.’).

38 FCC v RCA Communications 346 US 86, 92 (1953).

39 Maurice E Stucke and Allen P Grunes, ‘Why More Antitrust Immunity for the Media is a Bad Idea’ (2011) 105 Northwestern U L Rev 1399, 1401–2 (citing US statutory antitrust exemptions for newspapers, agriculture, export activities, insurance, labor, fishing, defense preparedness, professional sports, small business joint ventures, and local governments).

40 City of Lafayette, La v Louisiana Power & Light Co 435 US 389, 413 (1978) (‘ Parker doctrine exempts only anticompetitive conduct engaged in as an act of government by the State as sovereign, or, by its subdivisions, pursuant to state policy to displace competition with regulation or monopoly public service.’); State Corporation Commission, Commonwealth of Virginia, Application of Beneficial Finance Corp, Case No 20095 (24 August 1979), 1979 SCC Ann Rept 399 (Va Corp Com), 1979 WL 4763 (Va Corp Com) 4 (noting how Virginia amended its small loan licensing statute with a ‘convenience and advantage’ clause to limit entry ‘so that the aims of the state's small loan acts might not be subverted by the supposed harmful consequences of having too many lenders and too much competition.’).

41 Hamilton Chapter of Alpha Delta Phi, Inc v Hamilton College 128 F 3d 59, 63 (2nd Cir 1997).

42 21 Cong Rec 2658–59 (1890); see also Harry First, ‘Private Interest and Public Control: Government Action, The First Amendment, and the Sherman Act’ (1975) 1975 Utah L Rev 9, 13 n38; State of Mo v Nat'l Org for Women, Inc 620 F2d 1301, 1309 (8th Cir 1980) (‘it was the competitors in commerce that Senator Sherman had in mind as the concern of his bill, not noncompetitors motivated socially or politically in connection with legislation’).

43 See, eg Bassett v NCAA No 06-5795, 2008 US App LEXIS 12248, 2008 WL 2329755 (6th Cir 9 June 2008); United States v Brown Univ 5 F 3d 658, 665 (3d Cir 1993) (finding it ‘axiomatic that section one of the Sherman Act regulates only transactions that are commercial in nature’); Donnelly v Boston Coll 558 F2d 634, 635 (1st Cir 1977) (defendants' law school activities do not have ‘commercial objectives’).

44 See, eg Smith v NCAA 139 F 3d 180, 185 (3rd Cir 1998). Smith also included a Title IX claim, which the Third Circuit allowed to proceed. Smith sought certiorari to review the dismissal of her Sherman Act claim, and the NCAA sought certiorari to review the Third Circuit’s treatment of the Title IX claim. The Supreme Court granted certiorari and reversed the Third Circuit’s analysis under Title IX. NCAA v Smith 525 US 459 (1999). However, the Court denied certiorari on the Sherman Act claim, allowing that decision by the Third Circuit to stand. ibid 464 n2.

45 Bassett v NCAA 528 F 3d 426, 433 (6th Cir 2008) [quoting Smith v NCAA 139 F 3d 180, 185 (3rd Cir 1998)]. Other courts, however, have applied the Sherman Act to regulations designed to preserve amateurism and fair competition in university athletics, but upheld them under the rule of reason. See, eg Justice v Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n 577 F Supp 356, 382 (D Ariz 1983).

In trying to drape themselves in the mantle of free competition, defendants are disingenuous. Their decision to simulate plaintiffs' trade dress yields society no benefits. . . . Above-board competition directed at factors such as quality and price is in society's interests. Obtaining sales by facilitating passing off is not. The effect of defendants' copying of [Plaintiffs’ trade dress] is that sales earned by plaintiffs through hard work are lost to pharmacist greed. The Lanham Act and New Jersey common law embody society's belief that that form of ‘competition’ is socially undesirable, and may be restrained.

47 See, eg Federal Trade Commission Act s 5, as amended, 15 USCA s 45; TianRui Group Co Ltd v Int'l Trade Comm'n 661 F 3d 1322, 1323–24 (Fed Cir 2011) (concluding that the International Trade Commission has statutory authority to investigate and grant relief based in part on extraterritorial conduct insofar as it is necessary to protect domestic industries from injuries arising out of unfair competition in the domestic marketplace); Dee Pridgen and Richard M Alderman, Consumer Protection and the Law (West 2011) vol 1; Hazel Carty, An Analysis of the Economic Torts (OUP 2001); Tony Weir, Economic Torts (OUP 1997) 3 (‘the requirement that the means (as opposed to the end) be wrongful (as opposed to generally deplorable) is entirely correct, sensible and practical’).

48 McCarthy on Trademarks and Unfair Competition (4th edn, West 2012) vol 1, s 1:23.

49 See, eg Lancaster Cmty Hosp v Antelope Valley Hosp Dist 940 F 2d 397, 402 n9 (9th Cir 1991) (‘This court, in considering whether a state has intended to displace competition with regulation, seems to have considered whether competition is generally thought to be a viable alternative to regulation in the relevant sphere of economic activity. In cases involving paradigmatic natural monopolies, we have more readily found that the legislature has intended to displace competition with regulation.’); Almeda Mall, Inc v Houston Lighting & Power Co 615 F 2d 343, 355 (5th Cir 1980) (‘These industries are regulated precisely because it has been determined that competition either cannot or should not prevail there. Thus, the regulatory scheme not only seeks to act as a surrogate for competition, but may, for public interest reasons, affirmatively seek to exclude competition from the marketplace.’) [quoting Watson and Brunner, ‘Monopolization by Regulated ‘Monopolies’: The Search for Substantive Standards’ (1977) 22 Antitrust Bull 559, 566–69].

50 James C Cooper and William E Kovacic, ‘U.S. Convergence with International Competition Norms: Antitrust Law and Public Restraints on Competition’ (2010) 90 BU L Rev 1555, 1582.

51 Chi Prof’l Sports Ltd. P’ship v Nat’l Basketball Ass’n 961 F 2d 667, 671−72 (7th Cir 1992); Stucke and Grunes (n 39) 1401–4.

52 Essential Communications Sys, Inc v Am Tel & Tel Co 610 F 2d 1114, 1117 (3d Cir 1979).

53 OECD, ‘Competition Assessment Toolkit version 2.0, Principles’ (2011) 3.

54 Shapiro (n 12) (‘In terms of the classic categories of market failure from the Fundamental Theorem of Welfare Economics, most regulations – including environmental regulations, health and safety regulations, and consumer protection regulations – primarily address problems of externalities, public goods, and imperfect information. Competition policy primarily addresses the problem of market power.’).

55 Irving Fisher, ‘Why Has the Doctrine of Laissez Faire Been Abandoned?’ Science (4 January 1907) 19.

56 Amanda P Reeves and Maurice E Stucke, ‘Behavioral Antitrust’ (2011) 86 Indiana LJ 1527, 1545–53.

57 See SCFC ILC, Inc v Visa USA, Inc 36 F 3d 958, 965 (10th Cir 1994) {‘If the structure of the market is such that there is little potential for consumers to be harmed, we need not be especially concerned with how firms behave because the presence of effective competition will provide a powerful antidote to any effort to exploit consumers.’ [quoting George A Hay, ‘Market Power in Antitrust’ (1992) 60 Antitrust LJ 807, 808]}.

58 See, eg Eastman Kodak Co v Image Technical Servs, Inc 504 US 451, 474 n21 (1992) (noting that ‘in an equipment market with relatively few sellers, competitors may find it more profitable to adopt Kodak’s service and parts policy than to inform the consumers’); FTC v RF Keppel & Bro, Inc 291 US 304, 308, 313 (1934) (finding that while competitors ‘reluctantly yielded’ to the challenged practice to avoid loss of trade to their competitors, a ‘trader may not, by pursuing a dishonest practice, force his competitors to choose between its adoption or the loss of their trade’); Ford Motor Co v FTC 120 F 2d 175, 179 (6th Cir 1941) (Ford following industry leader General Motors in advertising a deceptive 6 per cent financing plan); Matthew Bennett and others, ‘What Does Behavioral Economics Mean for Competition Policy?’ (2010) 6 Competition Pol’y Int’l 111, 118; Eliana Garcés - Tolon, ‘The Impact of Behavioral Economics on Consumer and Competition Policies’ (2010) 6 Competition Pol’y Int’l 145, 150; Max Huffman, ‘Marrying Neo-Chicago with Behavioral Antitrust’ (2012) 78 Antitrust LJ 105, 134 (‘consciously parallel behavioral exploitation is the nearly industry-wide policy of unbundling charges for checked bags in airline travel’).

59 Steffen Huck and others, ‘Consumer Behavioural Biases in Competition: A Survey, Final Report for the OFT’ (May 2011) para 2.5 [hereinafter OFT Report], < > accessed 7 January 2013 .

60 In one experiment, MBA students put down the last two digits of their social security number (SSN) (eg 14). Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (HarperCollins 2008) 25–28. The students, then participants, monetized it (eg $14), and then answered for each bidded item ‘Yes or No’ if they would pay that amount for the item. The students then stated the maximum amount they were willing to pay for each auctioned product. Students with the highest ending SSN (80–99) bid 216 to 346 per cent higher than students with low-end SSNs (1–20), who bid the lowest; see also Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2011) 119–28 (discussing anchoring effects generally).

61 Similarly, people ‘rarely choose things in absolute terms’, but instead based on their relative advantage to other things. Ariely (ibid) 2–6. By adding a third more expensive choice, for example, the marketer can steer consumers to a more expensive second choice. MIT students, in one experiment, were offered three choices for the Economist magazine: (i) Internet-only subscription for $59 (16 students); (ii) print-only subscriptions for $125 (no students); and (iii) print-and-Internet subscriptions for $125 (84 students). When the ‘decoy’ second choice (print-only subscriptions) was removed and only the first and third options were presented, the students did not react similarly. Instead 68 students opted for Internet-only subscriptions for $59 (up from 16 students) and only 32 students chose print-and-Internet subscriptions for $125 (down from 84 students).

62 Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, ‘Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases’ Science (27 September 1974) 1127 (noting situations where people assess the ‘frequency of a class or the probability of an event by the ease with which instances or occurrences can be brought to mind’).

63 See generally Eric J Johnson and others, ‘Framing, Probability Distortions, and Insurance Decisions’ (1993) 7 J Risk & Uncertainty 35.

64 Kahneman (n 60) 402–7.

65 Ariely conducted several experiments that revealed the power of higher prices. Ariely (n 60) 181–86. In one experiment, nearly all the participants reported less pain after taking a placebo priced at $2.50 per dose; when the placebo was discounted to $0.10 per dose, only half of the participants experienced less pain. Similarly, MIT students who paid regular price for the ‘SoBe Adrenaline Rush’ beverage reported less fatigue than the students who paid one-third of regular price for the same drink. SoBe Adrenaline Rush beverage was next promoted as energy for the students’ mind, and students after drinking the placebo, had to solve as many word puzzles as possible within thirty minutes. Students who paid regular price for the drink got on average nine correct responses, versus students who paid a discounted price for the same drink got on average 6.5 questions right.

66 OFT Report (n 59) para 3.130.

67 Stefano DellaVigna, ‘Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field’ (2009) 47 J of Econ Lit 315, 342; Oren Bar-Gill and Elizabeth Warren, ‘Making Credit Safer’ (2008) 157 U Pa L Rev 1, 49, 47–52; Samuel Issacharoff and Erin F Delaney, ‘Credit Card Accountability’ (2006) 73 U Chi L Rev 157, 162–63; for a summary of the recent impact regulatory impact on late fees, see Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, CARD Act Factsheet (February 2011) < > accessed 7 January 2013.

68 Bar-Gill and Warren (ibid) 51; DellaVigna (ibid) 321.

69 Bar-Gill and Warren (n 67) 46.

70 OFT Report (n 59) paras 3.31, 3.37, 3.43.

71 FRONTLINE: The Card Game (24 November 2009) < > accessed 7 January 2013 (interview with former Providian CEO Shailesh Mehta).

73 For elegant economic models, see Paul Heidhues, Botond Köszegi and Takeshi Murooka, ‘Deception and Consumer Protection in Competitive Markets’ in Pros and Cons of Consumer Protection (Konkurrensverket Swedish Competition Authority 2011) 44; Xavier Gabaix and David Laibson, ‘Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets’ (2006) 121 QJ Econ 505, 517–20.

74 Gabaix and Laibson (n 73) 517–20.

75 See eg US Dep’t of Justice & Fed Trade Comm’n, Horizontal Merger Guidelines (19 August 2010) s 7.2 < > accessed 7 January 2013 (noting how the market is more vulnerable to coordinated conduct if a firm that first offers a lower price or improved product to customers will retain relatively few customers after its rivals respond).

76 OFT Report (n 59) s 6.2; see also Heidhues and others (n 73) 68 (modeling how ‘in socially wasteful industries—independent of the number of competitors—firms will keep deceiving consumers even when educating them would be costless’ and ‘have strong incentives to engage in (non-appropriable) exploitative contract innovations—that is in finding new ways of charging consumers unexpected fees—while they have no incentives to engage in (non-appropriable) contract innovations that benefit consumers’).

77 2010 Merger Guidelines (n 75) s 7.

79 OFT Report (n 59) para 6.3 (noting how ‘competition tends to work as standard intuition suggests if biases simply distort consumers’ demand without affecting their desire to search for the best deals in light of their demand’); Huffman (n 58) 133; Max Huffman, ‘Bridging the Divide? Theories for Integrating Competition Law and Consumer Protection’ (2010) 6 Eur Competition J 7.

80 Financial markets, unlike prediction markets, lack a defined end-point. A rational investor could ‘short’ a company’s stock to profit when the stock price declines. But rational traders do not know when the speculative bubble will burst. Rational traders, due to investor pressure, can be subject to short-term horizons, and follow the herd for short-term gains. Andrei Shleifer and Robert W Vishny, ‘The Limits of Arbitrage’ (2007) 52 J Fin 35. Alternatively, consumers, recognizing their bounded rationality, can turn for some decisions to more rational advisors or consumer advocates (such as Which? and Consumers Union). Moreover, the window for exploitation can be short-lived. Consumers can make better decisions when they gain experience, quickly receive feedback on their earlier errors, discover their biases and heuristics in their earlier decisions, and take steps to debias. John A List, ‘Does Market Experience Eliminate Market Anomalies?’ (2003) 118 QJ Econ 41, 41. Rational traders may make more money by creating products that encourage, rather than deter, speculation. Andrei Shleifer, Inefficient Markets: An Introduction to Behavioral Finance (OUP 2000) 172 (citing several examples, including future contracts on tulips during the Tulipmania of the 1630s).

81 Gabaix and Laibson (n 73) 509, 511.

82 OFT Report (n 59) paras 3.47–3.52, 4.19 (noting that whenever sophisticated consumers benefit from the exploitation of naïve consumers, firms will have no incentive to debias); Gabaix and Laibson (n 59) 507–9, 517–20 (discussing and modeling the ‘curse of debiasing’).

83 Richard H Thaler, The Winner’s Curse: Paradoxes and Anomalies of Economic Life (Princeton University Press 1992) 50–62; DellaVigna (n 67) 342. In one experiment, neuroscientists and economists combined brain imaging techniques and behavioral economics research to better understand why individuals overbid. Mauricio R Delgado and others, ‘Understanding Overbidding: Using the Neural Circuitry of Reward to Design Economic Auctions’ (2008) 321 Science 1849, 1849. Specifically, they examined whether the fear of losing the social competition inherent in an auction game causes people to overpay. Members in the ‘loss-frame’ group were given 15 dollars at the beginning of each auction round. If they won the auction for that round, they would get to keep the 15 dollars and the payoff from the auction. If they lost, they would have to return the 15 dollars. Members in the ‘bonus-frame’ group, on the other hand, were told that if they won that auction round they would get a 15-dollar bonus at the end of the round. Whether one gets 15 dollars at the beginning or end of the auction round should not affect a rational player: the winner of each round gets 15 extra dollars, the loser gets nothing. Nonetheless, the loss-frame group members outbid the bonus-frame group members, although both outbid the baseline group.

84 Max H Bazerman and Don A Moore, Judgment in Management Decision Making (7th edn, Wiley 2009) 111. The business literature also discusses the competitive irrationality of firms sacrificing profits and consumer welfare to obtain a relative advantage over a rival. See Lorenz Graf and others, ‘Debiasing Competitive Irrationality: How Managers Can Be Prevented from Trading Off Absolute for Relative Profit’ (2012) 30 European Management J 386; Dennis B Arnett and Shelby D Hunt, ‘Competitive Irrationality: The Influence of Moral Philosophy’ (2002) 12 Business Ethics Q 279.

85 Bazerman and Moore (n 84) 105.

86 ibid 106.

87 ibid 105.

89 ibid 107–8; Deepak Malhotra, Gillian Ku and J Keith Murnighan, ‘When Winning Is Everything’ Harv ard Bus iness Rev iew (May 2008).

90 Fisher (n 55) 22 (‘even when the act of an individual is actually for his own benefit, it may not be for the benefit of society’).

91 Robert H Frank, The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good (Princeton UP 2011) 16, 138.

92 Fisher (n 55) 24 (‘A general increase in relative advantage is a contradiction in terms, so that in the end the racers as a whole have only their labor for their pains.’).

93 Frank (n 91) 21.

94 ibid 8–9 [citing Thomas C Schelling, Micromotives and Macrobehavior (WW Norton & Co 1978)].

95 Fisher (n 55) 22.

96 Charles Wallace, ‘Keep Taking the Testosterone’ Financial Times (10 February 2012) 10; Cindy Perman, ‘Wall Streeters Buying Testosterone for an Edge’ CNBC (12 July 2012) < > accessed 7 January 2013.

97 JM Coates and J Herbert, ‘Endogenous Steroids and Financial Risk Taking on a London Trading Floor’ (22 April 2008) 105 PNAS 6167, 6178.

98 ibid 6170.

99 See also Reasoned Decision of the United States Anti-Doping Agency on Disqualification and Ineligibility in United States Anti-Doping Agency v Lance Armstrong (10 October 2012) 7 (‘Twenty of the twenty-one podium finishers in the Tour de France from 1999 through 2005 have been directly tied to likely doping through admissions, sanctions, public investigations or exceeding the UCI hematocrit threshold. Of the forty-five (45) podium finishes during the time period between 1996 and 2010, thirty-six (36) were by riders similarly tainted by doping.’).

100 Coates and Herbert (n 97) 6170 (noting studies that ‘if testosterone continued to rise or became chronically elevated, it could begin to have the opposite effect on P&L and survival, because testosterone has also been found to lead to impulsivity and sensation seeking, to harmful risk taking, and, among users of anabolic steroids, to euphoria and mania’).

101 < > accessed 7 January 2013. Simon Johnson and James Kwak, 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown (Pantheon 2010) 90–92, 179, 192 (‘As of October 2009, 1,537 lobbyists representing financial institutions, other businesses, and industry groups had registered to work on financial regulation proposals before Congress—outnumbering by twenty-five to one the lobbyists representing consumer groups, unions, and other supporters of stronger regulation.’); Maurice E Stucke, ‘Crony Capitalism and Antitrust’ CPI Antitrust Chronicle, Oct 2011 (2) < > accessed 7 January 2013.

102 Jeffrey H Birnbaum, ‘Learning From Microsoft’s Error, Google Builds a Lobbying Engine’ Washington Post (20 June 2007) D1 (‘For a couple of embarrassing years in the mid-1990s, Microsoft’s primary lobbying presence was “Jack and his Jeep”—Jack Krumholz, the software giant’s lone in-house lobbyist, who drove a Jeep Grand Cherokee to lobbying visits.’). Lobbyists have sought to influence antitrust decisions for years. Maurice E Stucke, ‘Does the Rule of Reason Violate the Rule of Law?’ (2009) 42 UC Davis L Rev 1375, 1446–56. If anything is new (starting with Microsoft ), observed Bert Foer, it is probably the fairly standard retention in large antitrust cases of public relation firms and media strategists, who have an easier time in the absence of a dedicated and expert antitrust media.

103 Center for Responsive Politics, Heavy Hitters, Microsoft Corp < > accessed 29 September 2011 (‘Between 2000 and 2010, Microsoft spent at least $6 million each year on federal lobbying efforts.’). Microsoft spent $7,335,000 in 2011 < > accessed 7 January 2013.

104 < > accessed 7 January 2013; Michael Liedtke, ‘Google’s Lobbying Bill Tops Previous Record’ Associated Press (21 July 2011) < > accessed 7 January 2013.

105 Citizens United v Fed Election Comm’n 130 S Ct 876, 910, 175 L Ed 2d 753 (2010).

No group can afford to drop out of the contest for government handouts; members of a group that did would pay the same taxes but receiver fewer benefits, thus redistributing income to the remaining contestants. As in the ‘prisoner's dilemma’ game, however, the result of this individually rational behavior is that everyone is worse off. This creates a kind of ‘race to the bottom,’ in which pork-barrel politics displaces pursuit of the public interest—a situation individuals may deplore even as they find themselves compelled to participate. Even if everybody belonged to a special interest group, so that special interest politics did not affect the distribution of wealth, interest groups still would direct resources to socially unproductive programs.

107 Brief of the Center for Political Accountability and the Carol and Lawrence Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at the Wharton School as Amici Curiae in Support of Appellee on Supplemental Question, Citizens United v Federal Election Commission , 2009 WL 2349016 (US) 4.

108 Albert R Hunt, ‘Letter From Washington: Super PACs Fuel a Race to the Bottom’ N Y Times (4 March 2012) < > accessed 7 January 2013.

109 Maurice E Stucke, ‘Occupy Wall Street and Antitrust’ (2012) 85 Southern California L Rev Postscript 33.

110 Ernst & Young, 12th Global Fraud Survey Growing Beyond: a place for integrity, CFOs in the spotlight <—Dispute-Services/Global-Fraud-Survey—a-place-for-integrity > accessed 7 January 2013.

111 Andrei Shleifer, ‘Does Competition Destroy Ethical Behavior?’ (2004) 94 Am Econ Rev 414, 414–16 (discussing how competition can help spread child labor, corruption and bribery of government officials to reduce the amount the companies owe in tariffs and taxes, excessive executive pay, manipulated earnings to lower corporation’s cost of capital, and the involvement of universities in commercial activities).

112 Fernando Branco and J Miguel Villas-Boas, ‘Competitive Vices’ (May 2012) < > accessed 7 January 2013; Brian W Kulik and others, ‘Do Competitive Environments Lead to the Rise and Spread of Unethical Behavior? Parallels from Enron’ (2008) 83 J of Business Ethics 703.

113 W Harvey Hegarty and Henry P Sims, ‘Some Determinants of Unethical Decision Behavior: An Experiment’ (1978) 63 J of Applied Psychology 451, 455–56.

114 Hongbin Cai and Qiao Liu, ‘Competition and Corporate Tax Avoidance: Evidence From Chinese Industrial Firms’ (2009) 119 Economic J 764, 765–66.

115 Jason Snyder, ‘Gaming the Liver Transplant Market’ J L Econ Organization (Advance Access Published 1 April 2010). Using the policy changes in ranking kidney transplant candidates, the study examined changes in hospitals’ behavior in admitting kidney transplant candidates into the intensive care unit (which under the former policy increased the candidates’ ranking). After the policy change, the use of the ICU decreased more in markets with more transplant centers and the percentage of relatively healthy people in the ICU decreased most in the areas with more firms. ‘It appears that each competing center used the ICU to move their sickest patients to the top of the list and had a negligible overall impact on the rank ordering of patients waiting for a liver.’ ibid 3.

116 Kent Greenfield, ‘Ultra Vires Lives! A Stakeholder Analysis of Corporate Illegality (with Notes on How Corporate Law Could Reinforce International Law Norms)’ (2001) 87 Va L Rev 1279, 1349–51 (‘Without such a term, the pressure on corporate managers to make money for the firm would force managers to compete to their collective detriment through illegality.’).

117 Michael E Porter and Mark R Kramer, ‘Creating Shared Value: How to Reinvent Capitalism—and Unleash a Wave of Innovation and Growth’ Harv ard Bus iness Rev iew (January–February 2011) 62, 77; see also Dominic Barton, ‘Capitalism for the Long Term’ Harv ard Bus iness Rev iew (March 2011); Rosabeth Moss Kanter, ‘How Great Companies Think Differently’ Harv ard Bus iness Rev iew (November 2011) 66; ‘Symposium on Conscious Capitalism’ (2011) 53 California Management Rev 60 ff.

118 Porter and Kramer (ibid) 64, 66 (Shared value ‘involves creating economic value . . . for society by addressing its needs and challenges’ and ‘enhanc[ing] the competitiveness of a company while simultaneously advancing the economic and social conditions in the communities in which it operates.’).

119 OECD, Bank Competition and Financial Stability (OECD Publishing 27 October 2011) 24.

the Officer Defendants were deliberately reckless in their public statements regarding loan quality and underwriting. First, the confidential witness statements describe a staggering race-to-the-bottom of loan quality and underwriting standards as part of an effort to originate more loans for sale through secondary market transactions. The witnesses catalogue an explosive increase in risky loan products, including interest-only loans, stated income loans, and adjustable-rate loans, and a serious decline in loan quality and underwriting. . . . Several witnesses portray an underwriting system driven by volume and riddled with exceptions. They state that the goal was to ‘push more loans through,’ that ‘there was always someone to sign off on any loan,’ that nearly any loan was approved to meet its sales projections, and that exceptions were commonly made for the otherwise unqualified. There are specific instances of loose standards, as when an employee recommended denial of a loan application but higher-level managers repeatedly approved those loans, or when underwriters allowed rejected loans, usually because borrowers' incomes were too low, a second chance and approved the formerly rejected loans. There is testimony that instructions, according to managers, came from the corporate officers, and that officers had access to information on the effects of these practices, including the rising defaults. There are also indications that the compensation for sales reinforced the disregard for standards and quality as volume was linked to reward.

In re New Century 588 F Supp 2d 1206, 1229 (CD Cal 2008) (citations to complaint omitted).

121 Richard A Posner, A Failure of Capitalism: The Crisis of ‘08 and the Descent Into Depression (Harvard UP 2009) xii, 242–43; see also OECD (n 119) 28–29 (‘Regulation should help to reduce the potential for any detrimental effects of competition on financial stability, in particular, by making banks less inclined to take on excessive risks.’).

122 Posner (n 121) 107; see also ibid 111–12.

123 US v Philadelphia Nat Bank 374 US 321, 380 (1963) (noting how ‘[u]nrestricted bank competition was thought to have been a major cause of the panic of 1907 and of the bank failures of the 1930's, and was regarded as a highly undesirable condition to impose on banks in the future’).

124 OECD (n 119) 9.

125 Compl para 65, US v Apple, Inc , Civ Action No 1:12-cv-02826-UA (SDNY filed 11 April 2012) < > accessed 7 January 2013 (challenging, inter alia, ‘unusual’ MFN whereby the book publishers agreed to lower the retail price of their e-books on Apple’s iBookstore to the lowest price by any other retailer); Compl, US v Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mich. , Civ Action No 2:10-cv-15155 (ED Mich filed 18 October 2010) < > accessed 7 January 2013.

126 Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin v Marshfield Clinic 65 F 3d 1406, 1415 (7th Cir 1995).

127 Marshfield Clinic (ibid). The DOJ and FTC supported a rehearing en banc in part because of the court’s permissive language on MFNs. Brief for the USA and FTC as Amici Curiae in Support of Petition for Rehearing, Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin v Marshfield Clinic 65 F 3d 1406 (7th Cir filed 2 October 1995) < > accessed 7 January 2013.

128 Ocean State Physicians Health Plan, Inc v Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island 883 F 2d 1101, 1110 (1st Cir 1989).

130 Jonathan B Baker, ‘Vertical Restraints With Horizontal Consequences: Competitive Effects of ‘Most-Favored-Customer’ Clauses’ (1996) 64 Antitrust LJ 517; Arnold Celnicker, ‘A Competitive Analysis of Most Favored Nations Clauses in Contracts Between Health Care Providers and Insurers’ (1991) 69 NC L Rev 863, 883–91.

131 Matter of Ethyl Corp, 101 FTC 425 (1983), vacated by EI du Pont de Nemours & Co v FTC 729 F 2d 128 (2d Cir 1984); see also Fiona Scott-Morton, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, US Dep’t of Justice, Antitrust Div., Contracts that Reference Rivals, Presented at Georgetown University Law Center Antitrust Seminar (5 April 2012) < > accessed 7 January 2013 (making similar point, stating ‘Indeed, the idea that the buyer requests the MFN, and that the MFN will deliver a lower price to the buyer, is a common intuition for why MFNs should be procompetitive.’).

132 du Pont (ibid) 729 F 2d at 134.

134 Baker (n 130) 533 (‘when buyers desire something individually, one cannot assume, as these courts have done, that it is in the buyers' interest collectively to obtain it’). The appellate court may have ruled otherwise if the sellers ‘adopted or continued to use the most favored nation clause for the purpose of influencing the price discounting policies of other producers or of facilitating their adoption of or adherence to uniform prices.’ du Pont 729 F 2d at 134. Whether MFNs are demand-driven (customers seeking to maximize their self-interest) or supply-driven (sellers marketing MFNs), once MFNs are widespread in the industry, the anticompetitive outcome is the same—higher equilibrium prices. Perhaps the appellate court believed that sellers are more blameworthy if they actively promote MFNs for an ulterior anticompetitive purpose rather than responding to consumer demand.

135 Scott-Morton (n 131).

136 Baker (n 130) 533.

137 Angela Chao and Juliet B Schor, ‘Empirical Tests of Status Competition: Evidence from Women’s Cosmetics’ (1998) 19 J of Economic Psychology 107, 108–9.

138 Seneca, ‘Letter CXXIII’ in Letters from a Stoic (Robin Campbell trs, Penguin Books 1969) 227 (observing how some gadgets are purchased not because of their inherent utility, but ‘because others have bought them or they’re in most people’s houses’); Plutarch, ‘On Contentment’ in Ian Kidd (ed) and Robin H Waterfield (trans), Essays (Penguin Books 1992) 222 (observing how prisoners ‘envy those who have been freed, who envy those with citizen status, who in turn envy rich people, who envy province commanders, who envy kings, who—because they almost aspire to making thunder and lightning—envy the gods’).

139 Saint Augustine, Confessions (Penguin Books 1961) 33 (acknowledging ‘man’s insatiable desire for the poverty he calls wealth’); Saint Thomas Aquinas, Compendium Theologiae , reprinted in Aquinas’s Shorter Summa (2002) 353–56.

140 Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (A. Millar. 1790. Library of Economics and Liberty [Online] < >; accessed 26 September 2012) IV.I.8, 183 (trinkets’ real purpose is to ‘more effectually gratify that love of distinction so natural to man’).

141 Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class (Penguin Books 1994) (1899) 26, 103–4 (observing that the predominant motive for conspicuous consumption is the ‘invidious distinction attaching to wealth’). The accumulation of goods and services forms the conventional basis of esteem. Veblen observed the hedonic treadmill: ‘[T]he present pecuniary standard [marks] the point of departure for a fresh increase in wealth; and this in turn gives rise to a new standard of sufficiency and a new pecuniary classification of one’s self as compared with one’s neighbors.’ ibid 31.

142 Alois Stutzer and Bruno S Frey, ‘Recent Advances in the Economics of Individual Subjective Well-Being’ (Summer 2010) 77 Social Research 679, 690; Seneca, ‘Letter CIV’ in Letters from a Stoic ( n 138) 186 (‘However much you possess there’s someone else who has more, and you’ll be fancying yourself to be short of things you need to the exact extent to which you lag behind him.’).

143 CS Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952) (HarperCollins 2000) 121–22.

144 ibid 122.

145 ibid 123–24; see also Veblen (n 141) 31 (chronically dissatisfied with his present lot, man will strain to place ‘a wider and ever-widening pecuniary interval between himself and the average standard’); Smith (n 140) 184.

146 Fisher (n 55) 25; Frank (n 91) 76–81 (discussing a progressive consumption tax).

147 Stutzer and Frey (n 142) 691; Richard Layard ‘Happiness & Public Policy: A Challenge to the Profession’ (2006) 116 The Economic J C24–33.

148 Stutzer and Frey (n 142) 690; Bruno S Frey, Happiness: A Revolution in Economics (MIT Press 2008) 31.

149 Each purchaser’s individual interest is to purchase the status good at a discount, while others pay the full retail price to preserve the product’s symbol of conspicuous consumption. Maurice E Stucke, ‘Money, Is That What I Want? Competition Policy & the Role of Behavioral Economics’ (2010) 50 Santa Clara L Rev 893; Barak Y Orbach, ‘Antitrust Vertical Myopia: The Allure of High Prices’ (2008) 50 Ariz L Rev 261, 286. Likewise, each retailer’s individual interest is to offer a discount while its competitors charge the full price. Absent RPM, a race to the bottom, here the discount bin, ensues. As retailers discount, more consumers can afford the status good. But the good’s status value decreases. Early adopters disapprove of the brand’s commoditization, and switch to other status symbols. As more consumers disapprove of the brand as cheap and vulgar, the manufacturer and retailers lower price to maintain demand levels (primarily among consumers who previously could not afford the item). Arguably banning RPM could reduce status competition. Far-sighted consumers can see the natural cycle of early adoption, emulation, and rejection. Why purchase the $100 polo shirt that in several years retails for $30? But this proves too much. Far-sighted consumers would recognize the tax and misery imposed by status competition, and forego status competition whether RPM was legal or illegal.

150 Group boycotts and agreements to restrict purchases are per se illegal. But suppose consumers collectively agreed to disarm the birthday party arms-race by boycotting expensive toys, gift bags, and birthday entertainers. William Doherty, ‘Beyond the Consulting Room—Therapists as Catalysts of Social Change’ < > accessed 7 January 2013; see also < > accessed 7 January 2013. To curb this social competition, neighborhood parents undertake a Green Birthday Pledge, where they collectively agree to ‘a “no-gift” or “giving party” or a “swap party” to cut back on unwanted toys and excess packaging and wrapping’ and skipping ‘the goody bag loaded with cheap plastic toys and candy’. < > accessed 7 January 2013. Only an overzealous antitrust official would prosecute their group boycott.

151 John Maynard Keynes, ‘Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren’ in Essays In Persuasion (1932) 358, 369 (‘For three hours a day is quite enough to satisfy the old Adam in most of us!’).

152 ibid 365.

153 ibid 369–70.

154 Jonathan Guthrie, ‘Anything to Distract Us from the Arts of Life’ Fin ancial Times (30 April 2009) 11 (quoting Professor Alan Manning).

155 Fisher (n 55) 25.

156 Tim Bradshaw, ‘Peer Groups that Harness an Online Community Spirit’ Fin ancial Times (6 August 2009) 12.

157 Benjamin G Edelman and Ian Larkin, ‘Demographics, Career Concerns or Social Comparison: Who Games SSRN Download Counts?’ Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No 09-096 (19 February 2009) < > accessed 7 January 2013.

158 < > accessed 7 January 2013.

159 Edelman and Larkin (n 157) 4, 17 (finding ‘strong evidence that envy and social comparisons play a strong role in predicting deceptive downloads. Higher levels of reported downloads for three separate peer groups—an author’s institution, other [peers] within an SSRN e-journal, and [peers] within an e-journal publishing papers on SSRN at about the same time as the author in question—are associated with 12% to 30% more invalid downloads.’).

160 Frank (n 91) 9.

161 H Geoffrey Moulton, Jr, ‘Federalism and Choice of Law in the Regulation of Legal Ethics’ (1997) 82 Minn L Rev 73, 136–41 (‘Most often employed in the contexts of environmental and corporate regulation, the “race to the bottom” argument for national intervention posits that state competition for jobs, industry, and investment will lead states to adopt lower-than-optimal regulatory standards. . . . In other words, a state government acting strategically may rationally conclude that lax regulatory standards will increase its constituents' welfare (by increasing investment and employment) by an amount greater than any (in-state) costs resulting from the lower standards. Other states, however, will naturally relax their own standards in response, in order to get ahead themselves or not be left behind, “triggering a downward regulatory spiral and nonoptimal results.”’ ); Hodel v Virginia Surface Mining 452 US 264, 268, 281–82 (1981) (noting Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act responds to congressional concern that ‘nationwide ‘surface mining and reclamation standards are essential in order to insure that competition in interstate commerce … will not be used to undermine the ability of the several States to improve and maintain adequate standards,’’ and holding that ‘[t]he prevention of this sort of destructive interstate competition is a traditional role for congressional action under the Commerce Clause’); Louis K Liggett Co v Lee 288 US 517, 557–60 (1933) (Brandeis, J, dissenting in part) (noting how the leading industrial state governments relaxed the legal limits upon business corporations’ size and powers not because they believed that these restrictions were undesirable, but to compete with the lesser states, which eager for the revenue, removed these legal safeguards: ‘The race was one not of diligence but of laxity.’).

162 John Cassidy, How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2009) 142.

163 ‘Externalities’ in Glossary of Industrial Organisation Economics and Competition Law , compiled by RS Khemani & DM Shapiro, commissioned by the Directorate for Financial, Fiscal and Enterprise Affairs, OECD, 1993; McCloud v Testa 97 F 3d 1536, 1561 n21 (6th Cir 1996) (negative externalities arise ‘when the private costs of some activity are less than the total costs to society of that activity’, so that ‘society produces more of the activity than is optimal because private parties engaging in that activity essentially shift some of their costs onto society as a whole’).

164 Maurice E Stucke and Allen P Grunes, ‘Antitrust and the Marketplace of Ideas’ (2001) 69 Antitrust LJ 249.

165 Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse M Shapiro, ‘Competition & Truth in the Market for News’ (2008) 22 J of Economic Perspectives 133; Stefano DellaVigna and Ethan Kaplan, ‘The Political Impact of Media Bias’ in Roumeen Islam (ed), Information and Public Choice: From Media Markets to Policy Making (World Bank 2008).

166 Indeed entry may make everyone worse off. An empirical study found that higher housing prices attracted more real-estate brokers into that market. Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti, ‘Can Free Entry Be Inefficient? Fixed Commissions and Social Waste in the Real Estate Industry’ (2003) J of Political Economy 1076. The brokers did not benefit. Their productivity (houses sold per hours worked) on average declined and their real wages remained the same. Consumers did not benefit. They paid higher brokerage fees, which were fixed on a percentage of the increasing home values. Accordingly, the study concluded that ‘[i]ncreases in housing prices translate into pure economic losses since brokers are not made better off but consumers are made worse off.’ ibid 1118. Another study of real-estate agents in the greater Boston, Massachusetts area found that new entrants likelier take listings from bottom tier incumbents and ‘no evidence that consumers benefit from enhanced competition associated with entry either on sales probability or time to sale’. Panle Jia Barwick and Parag A Pathak, ‘The Costs of Free Entry: An Empirical Study of Real Estate Agents in Greater Boston’ (September 2012) Working Paper 32 < > accessed 7 January 2013.

167 Vikas Bajaj, ‘New York Says Appraiser Inflated Value of Homes’ N Y Times (2 November 2007) < > accessed 7 January 2013; Les Christie, ‘Taming Inflated Home Appraisals: New Guidelines Aim to Reduce the Pressure that Real Estate Appraisers Feel to Boost Home Values’ CNNMoney (14 January 2009) < > accessed 7 January 2013; Kenneth R Harney, ‘Appraisers Say Pressure on Them to Fudge Values is Up Sharply’ RealtyTimes (5 February 2007) < > accessed 7 January 2013 (90 per cent of 1200 surveyed real estate appraisers said mortgage brokers, realty agents, lenders and individual home sellers pressured them to raise property valuations, a huge increase over the 2003 survey results, and 75 per cent of appraisers reported ‘negative ramifications’ when they declined requests for inflated valuations); Julie Haviv, ‘Some US Appraisers Feel Pressure To Inflate Home Values’ Wall Street Journal (9 February 2004) (citing 2003 October Research survey of 500 fee appraisers across the country, with at least five years of experience in the residential real estate appraisal business, that 55 per cent said they have felt pressure to inflate the values of properties, with 25 per cent of those respondents saying it happens nearly half the time) < > accessed 7 January 2013.

168 Neta Ziv, ‘Regulation of Israeli Lawyers: From Professional Autonomy to Multi-Institutional Regulation’ (2009) 77 Fordham L Rev 1763, 1794 & n54 (discussing concerns within Israel about greater lawyer misconduct from increased competition); see also Robin Wellford Slocum, ‘The Dilemma of the Vengeful Client: A Prescriptive Framework for Cooling the Flames of Anger’ (2009) 92 Marq L Rev 481, 486 (‘Within the legal profession itself, an excessive focus on the economic outcomes of legal matters, to the exclusion of psychological and emotional costs, has contributed to an environment of brutal competition and unethical behavior—an environment where everyone is a potential adversary and trust is a mirage on the horizon.’) (internal quotation omitted).

169 OECD (n 119) 25.

170 US Dep’t of Justice, Antitrust Div, Press Release, DOJ Urges SEC to Increase Competition for Securities Ratings Agencies (6 March 1998) < > accessed 7 January 2013.

172 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs Competition Committee Competition and Financial Markets, Note by the United States, DAF/COMP/WD(2009)11 (30 January 2009) 10–11.

173 Issuers, whose securities the agencies rate, pay the fees.

174 OECD (n 119) 25.

175 ibid 26; see also Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report (US GPO 2011) 210.

176 Bo Becker and Todd Milbourn, ‘How Did Increased Competition Affect Credit Ratings?’ (2011) 101 J of Fin Econ 493, 494–95.

177 Elliot Blair Smith, ‘‘Race to Bottom’ at Moody's, S&P Secured Subprime's Boom, Bust’ Bloomberg (25 September 2008) < > accessed 7 January 2013.

178 FCIC Report (n 175) 210.

180 ibid xxv.

183 Becker and Milbourn (n 176) 494 (‘In the median industry, Fitch issued less than one in ten ratings in 1997, but approximately a third of ratings by 2007.’).

184 ibid 498.

185 ibid 496, 513 (‘A one standard deviation increase in Fitch’s market share is predicted to increase the average firm and bond rating by between a tenth and half of a step (and increases it significantly more for more highly levered firms). Moving from the 25th to the 75th percentile of our competition measure reduces the conditional correlation between ratings and bond yields by about a third and reduces the conditional predictive power for default events at a three-year horizon by two-thirds.’).

186 In re Lehman Bros Mortgage-Backed Sec Litig 650 F 3d 167, 172 (2d Cir 2011); see also In re Bear Stearns Mortg Pass-Through Certificates Litig 08 CIV. 8093 LTS KNF, 2012 WL 1076216 (SDNY Mar 30, 2012) (complaint alleging that ‘[c]ompounding the problem, banks such as Bear Stearns shopped for Rating Agencies willing to assign their securities top credit ratings, pitting the Agencies against each other and provoking a race to the bottom in rating quality’).

187 Becker and Milbourn (n 176) 499.

188 Victor Manuel Bennett and others, ‘Customer-Driven Misconduct: How Competition Corrupts Business Practices’ (2013) Management Science. In press, draft available at < > 3, accessed 7 January 2013.

189 ibid 9.

190 ibid 8.

191 ibid 2.

192 ibid 3.

194 ibid 5.

195 ibid 3, 15 (finding ‘that, while incumbents’ pass rates increase in the face of competition (b = 0.073, p < 0.05), entrants’ pass rates respond even more strongly (b = 0.220, p < 0.01). While an entrant’s pass rate is 0.96 percentage points lower than other facilities when entering a market without an incumbent, it rises dramatically as the number of proximate facilities increases. These results suggest that while new entrants may on average be more reluctant to provide illicit quality to customers, their willingness increases when trying to win new customers in more competitive markets.’).

196 ibid 3.

197 ibid 19.

198 Nat'l Soc of Prof'l Engineers v US 435 US 679, 696 (1978).

200 ibid 696, 695 (‘Even assuming occasional exceptions to the presumed consequences of competition, the statutory policy precludes inquiry into the question whether competition is good or bad’).

Email alerts

Citing articles via.

  • Recommend to your Library


  • Online ISSN 2050-0696
  • Copyright © 2024 Oxford University Press
  • About Oxford Academic
  • Publish journals with us
  • University press partners
  • What we publish
  • New features  
  • Open access
  • Institutional account management
  • Rights and permissions
  • Get help with access
  • Accessibility
  • Advertising
  • Media enquiries
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford Languages
  • University of Oxford

Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide

  • Copyright © 2024 Oxford University Press
  • Cookie settings
  • Cookie policy
  • Privacy policy
  • Legal notice

This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only

Sign In or Create an Account

This PDF is available to Subscribers Only

For full access to this pdf, sign in to an existing account, or purchase an annual subscription.

Coming soon.



Quick order

Is Competition Good: Argumentative Essay

It is still a part of the discussion if competition is good or bad. In fact, it depends on context, for example, emulation between athletes is necessary, and it is actually good one, but the opposition between children leads to sad results. And what about students? It is so far a topic for debate. There are several arguments why competition is useful and some disadvantages of it.

Achieving a Goal

Competitive spirit really helps people to reach their goals. It is no secret that a rival gives more than a friend, it induces you to self-improvement and even greater efforts. If one tries to be better than their contender, they will achieve the goal faster and more effectively. Per contra, competition can be unfair; sometimes, people decide to break their moral beliefs in order to win. It happens that two contestants turn into the true enemies and lose their humanity and compassion.

Market Rivalry

For an ordinary customer, prices on food, clothes and other goods play a great role. Market rivalry gives up a possibility to buy high-quality things at low prices; moreover, it is useful for the economy development in the country. Also, opposition in business gives a chance for development for small manufacturers. Of course, fair trading has lots of benefits both for businessmen and customers. However, that kind of competition is not always as clear as it seems to be. The jungle of business can be brutal and disgusting. Sometimes, traders don’t abhor the dirtiest ways of customers attracting. Manufacturers start dishonest rumors about their competitors, delude customers etc.

There are two points of view on the issue of competition at school. Some people find it good for kids, as they can learn how to win and, what is more important, how to lose at an early age. Children, while competing, are taught that participation is more important than winning. They also develop such qualities as helpfulness, ability to work in team, perseverance and patience. It is a nice idea to arrange competitions between classes or school sports teams. However, usually, kids don’t realize that rivalry in certain activities or games shouldn’t be transferred to real life. Much worse is when parents start comparing their child with others. That way, he or she suffers from the big moral pressure and can gain several complexes for the whole life.

Kids Play Football

Sport Competition

It is hard to disagree that competitive spirit is, perhaps, the main sense of sport. Athletes train a lot, improve their physical shape in order to win their opponents and achieve an award. They are accustomed to the victories as well as to the losses, but anyway, sportsmen suffer a jolt while conceding. The negative side of sports competition is that often it is cruel and rough. Athletes gain plenty injures at their contests. In football matches, for instance, players usually jostle and trip each other. Furthermore, because of the desire to win, sportsmen forget about their health and use doping, without carrying about consequences.

All in all, completion has its good and bad qualities, and it is hard to say if it is really great and beneficial. They say, moderation should be in all things, and this one is not an exception. It is vital to be able to save your human qualities while competing.

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published.

argumentative essay about is competition really good

Plagiarism Free Only

We offer only original papers and this is guaranteed, as we have only highly qualified writers, who do not copy. We also check originality rate with our special software.

Pay Securely

No payment details are requested on our website. You pay only with a secure and reliable payment system with any credit or debit card.

We use cookies to enhance our website for you. Proceed if you agree to this policy or learn more about it.

  • Essay Database >
  • Essay Examples >
  • Essays Topics >
  • Essay on Competition

Competition Argumentative Essays Examples

Type of paper: Argumentative Essay

Topic: Competition , Teamwork , Human Resource Management , Employee , Management , Company , Workplace , Marketing

Words: 1100

Published: 02/29/2020


Competition continues to prove to the society as an ideal approach to achieving goals. In a number of occasions, it leads to increased levels of performance while the company strives towards conquering the opponents (Carnegie 34). However, competition has also been blamed for exploitation tendencies as people go to great strengths in order to best, whether in the classroom, in business or in the workplace. Competition means that there has to be a winner and this has its pros and cons. Therefore, the question that arises is, is competition beneficial to society? Clearly, while competition might cause harm to some of the participants, it spurs growth and is largely beneficial to society. One of the benefits of competition in this case is productivity gains. While more than, one person seeks o become managers, and there is only a single spot open, competition takes course. The employees go out to work harder in trying to outshine each other. They show stay late and up early, and volunteer to undertake extra works without any complaints. When the employees battle it out to get better positions, prestige, or pay, they work harder. Employees are working harder lead to an increase in revenue and productivity. This becomes a situation of win-win for the firm. The enhancement of the bottom line becomes the integral management focus so anything helping to achieve the same is beneficial (Covey 49). The other advantage of the competition in the workplace is employee benefits. Healthy competition brings out the potential of a person. It continues to break the absolute monotony within jobs that could have been stagnant. The pushes to success above fellow employees make others better persons. The competition includes planning and strategy, skills that one could not usually apply daily. They develop ways of bettering than other competitors that ultimately makes them better employees. Even though one ends up not securing the promotion, title, or raise they intended to, they become more well rounded than before, and it augments the resume richly (Carnegie 46). The other form of advantage is self-improvement. This is one of the ways that workplace competition becomes an advantage to the employees through spurring high levels of commitment towards self-improvement. While bonuses and financial incentives are a plus towards getting onto the competition, the individuals seeing the bigger picture take such competition as opportunities of bettering themselves while in a process of gaining a hand in the competition. Aspects of self-improvement include actions such as change of work habits into more organization, use of visualization as well as goal setting in achieving goals and performing work of a higher quality (Covey 68). Further, there are plenty of manager benefits associated to this course. All forms of good competition require judges while within the workplace managers are ultimate judges. Managers or respective management teams decide on which person gets new title or a promotion. This appears to be one of the hard jobs and not many are attracted to it but it is a good learning experience. Managers’ impartiality in practice along with high levels of wisdom for the decisions of the victors in healthy workplace competition is final (Carnegie 87). For female managers, the management and promotion tasks for other women add much tension within workplaces. Implementing assertive management as well as being out-spoken for various decisions helps in diffusion of such tension. Learning from competitors is another key advantage of competition. In most companies, workplaces are filled with skilled and talented individuals having diverse expertise and specialization areas. An element of friendly competition across employees helps in the promotion of atmosphere, which has conducive learning skill sets for each other’s failures and strengths for the company’s best interest. This allows for the generation of teamwork (Covey 89). While not all forms of workplace competition necessarily take place within individual levels, it can be engendering to the teamwork sense for the workplace while workers are grouped to compete with each other. It has various positive outcomes coming from workers in cooperation with each other. For instance, workers learn the impact of communication as well as helping other people while both of them spill into diverse work areas like customer service. On the contrary, some of the negative impacts of competition in the workplace include the creation of unhealthy rivalries resulting in workers having to resent each other. It becomes especially true in case one individual or team constantly wins the competitions. Such elements result in gaps between the workforce that proves to be rather unhealthy across internal relations at the workplace. Competition also creates stress hence proving counterproductive to efforts of some workers. Some workers are not always performing well under pressure and can be more productive in work environments that allow for more easygoing approaches to doing work. Fierce competition also amounts to an attitude of "win at all costs" and brings out the bad elements of some workers. Competition could be great on various sectors but not always in the workplace (Carnegie 86). Competition places the focus to individuals and not necessarily the teams. If people are working to their own benefit, the overall company objective may not be realized. The extensive synergy coming from having to work as creative groups loses meaning due to competition. Competition puts much stress on the people and causes early burnout that leads to individuals leaving their respective jobs instead of facing the competitive work environments. In summary, competition causes increase in the efficiency levels among employees in a company. The competitive atmosphere triggers the employees into producing exceptional work acceptable to both the management and more importantly, impressive work to the clients. Furthermore, aspects of competition push employees into meeting deadlines and adhering to management standards while avoiding the creation of poor impressions. They enable the employees gain the necessary management trust and confidence. Most organizations embrace a collection of competitiveness and cooperation in the course of doing business. The issues dictated in such cases are the rise in the workplaces for which extreme internal competition does not have adequacy in dealing with. In case the organization plainly focuses on competition without facilitated collaboration and a sense to shared fate, the management is on a time bomb of negative competitiveness (Carnegie 23).

Works Cited

Carnegie, Dale. How To Win Friends and Influence People. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010. Print Covey, Stephen. R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004. Print


Cite this page

Share with friends using:

Removal Request

Removal Request

Finished papers: 2115

This paper is created by writer with

If you want your paper to be:

Well-researched, fact-checked, and accurate

Original, fresh, based on current data

Eloquently written and immaculately formatted

275 words = 1 page double-spaced

submit your paper

Get your papers done by pros!

Other Pages

Psychology literature reviews, caller argumentative essays, obedience argumentative essays, workshop argumentative essays, signature argumentative essays, throne argumentative essays, temptation argumentative essays, borrower argumentative essays, counterpressure essays, playa essays, cerebrospinal essays, anthracis essays, binging essays, social anxiety essays, caco essays, bartos essays, ehrlichs essays, disp essays, envenomation essays, the teen brain report sample, the creation of the legal system essay examples, example of physical activity among pregnant women literature review, cushings vs addison research paper example, essay on argument about god, free report on nursing new jersey state health initiatives, good essay about world civilizations through stereotypes and media, behavioral assessments research paper example, good critical thinking on health economics, free transfer request admission essay example, example of supply chain management term paper, procedures in the physical sciences essay examples, free attitudes how they are formed and influenced essay sample, size matter in the history of art essays example, usc admission essay samples, migrating network infrastructure routing term paper samples, free research paper on marketing in the 21st century, walt disney corporation case study samples, critical thinking on probabilities in healthcare, change model analysis essay samples, free case study on negative letter.

Password recovery email has been sent to [email protected]

Use your new password to log in

You are not register!

By clicking Register, you agree to our Terms of Service and that you have read our Privacy Policy .

Now you can download documents directly to your device!

Check your email! An email with your password has already been sent to you! Now you can download documents directly to your device.

or Use the QR code to Save this Paper to Your Phone

The sample is NOT original!

Short on a deadline?

Don't waste time. Get help with 11% off using code - GETWOWED

No, thanks! I'm fine with missing my deadline


Choose Your Test

Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 3 strong argumentative essay examples, analyzed.

author image

General Education


Need to defend your opinion on an issue? Argumentative essays are one of the most popular types of essays you’ll write in school. They combine persuasive arguments with fact-based research, and, when done well, can be powerful tools for making someone agree with your point of view. If you’re struggling to write an argumentative essay or just want to learn more about them, seeing examples can be a big help.

After giving an overview of this type of essay, we provide three argumentative essay examples. After each essay, we explain in-depth how the essay was structured, what worked, and where the essay could be improved. We end with tips for making your own argumentative essay as strong as possible.

What Is an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay is an essay that uses evidence and facts to support the claim it’s making. Its purpose is to persuade the reader to agree with the argument being made.

A good argumentative essay will use facts and evidence to support the argument, rather than just the author’s thoughts and opinions. For example, say you wanted to write an argumentative essay stating that Charleston, SC is a great destination for families. You couldn’t just say that it’s a great place because you took your family there and enjoyed it. For it to be an argumentative essay, you need to have facts and data to support your argument, such as the number of child-friendly attractions in Charleston, special deals you can get with kids, and surveys of people who visited Charleston as a family and enjoyed it. The first argument is based entirely on feelings, whereas the second is based on evidence that can be proven.

The standard five paragraph format is common, but not required, for argumentative essays. These essays typically follow one of two formats: the Toulmin model or the Rogerian model.

  • The Toulmin model is the most common. It begins with an introduction, follows with a thesis/claim, and gives data and evidence to support that claim. This style of essay also includes rebuttals of counterarguments.
  • The Rogerian model analyzes two sides of an argument and reaches a conclusion after weighing the strengths and weaknesses of each.

3 Good Argumentative Essay Examples + Analysis

Below are three examples of argumentative essays, written by yours truly in my school days, as well as analysis of what each did well and where it could be improved.

Argumentative Essay Example 1

Proponents of this idea state that it will save local cities and towns money because libraries are expensive to maintain. They also believe it will encourage more people to read because they won’t have to travel to a library to get a book; they can simply click on what they want to read and read it from wherever they are. They could also access more materials because libraries won’t have to buy physical copies of books; they can simply rent out as many digital copies as they need.

However, it would be a serious mistake to replace libraries with tablets. First, digital books and resources are associated with less learning and more problems than print resources. A study done on tablet vs book reading found that people read 20-30% slower on tablets, retain 20% less information, and understand 10% less of what they read compared to people who read the same information in print. Additionally, staring too long at a screen has been shown to cause numerous health problems, including blurred vision, dizziness, dry eyes, headaches, and eye strain, at much higher instances than reading print does. People who use tablets and mobile devices excessively also have a higher incidence of more serious health issues such as fibromyalgia, shoulder and back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and muscle strain. I know that whenever I read from my e-reader for too long, my eyes begin to feel tired and my neck hurts. We should not add to these problems by giving people, especially young people, more reasons to look at screens.

Second, it is incredibly narrow-minded to assume that the only service libraries offer is book lending. Libraries have a multitude of benefits, and many are only available if the library has a physical location. Some of these benefits include acting as a quiet study space, giving people a way to converse with their neighbors, holding classes on a variety of topics, providing jobs, answering patron questions, and keeping the community connected. One neighborhood found that, after a local library instituted community events such as play times for toddlers and parents, job fairs for teenagers, and meeting spaces for senior citizens, over a third of residents reported feeling more connected to their community. Similarly, a Pew survey conducted in 2015 found that nearly two-thirds of American adults feel that closing their local library would have a major impact on their community. People see libraries as a way to connect with others and get their questions answered, benefits tablets can’t offer nearly as well or as easily.

While replacing libraries with tablets may seem like a simple solution, it would encourage people to spend even more time looking at digital screens, despite the myriad issues surrounding them. It would also end access to many of the benefits of libraries that people have come to rely on. In many areas, libraries are such an important part of the community network that they could never be replaced by a simple object.

The author begins by giving an overview of the counter-argument, then the thesis appears as the first sentence in the third paragraph. The essay then spends the rest of the paper dismantling the counter argument and showing why readers should believe the other side.

What this essay does well:

  • Although it’s a bit unusual to have the thesis appear fairly far into the essay, it works because, once the thesis is stated, the rest of the essay focuses on supporting it since the counter-argument has already been discussed earlier in the paper.
  • This essay includes numerous facts and cites studies to support its case. By having specific data to rely on, the author’s argument is stronger and readers will be more inclined to agree with it.
  • For every argument the other side makes, the author makes sure to refute it and follow up with why her opinion is the stronger one. In order to make a strong argument, it’s important to dismantle the other side, which this essay does this by making the author's view appear stronger.
  • This is a shorter paper, and if it needed to be expanded to meet length requirements, it could include more examples and go more into depth with them, such as by explaining specific cases where people benefited from local libraries.
  • Additionally, while the paper uses lots of data, the author also mentions their own experience with using tablets. This should be removed since argumentative essays focus on facts and data to support an argument, not the author’s own opinion or experiences. Replacing that with more data on health issues associated with screen time would strengthen the essay.
  • Some of the points made aren't completely accurate , particularly the one about digital books being cheaper. It actually often costs a library more money to rent out numerous digital copies of a book compared to buying a single physical copy. Make sure in your own essay you thoroughly research each of the points and rebuttals you make, otherwise you'll look like you don't know the issue that well.


Argumentative Essay Example 2

There are multiple drugs available to treat malaria, and many of them work well and save lives, but malaria eradication programs that focus too much on them and not enough on prevention haven’t seen long-term success in Sub-Saharan Africa. A major program to combat malaria was WHO’s Global Malaria Eradication Programme. Started in 1955, it had a goal of eliminating malaria in Africa within the next ten years. Based upon previously successful programs in Brazil and the United States, the program focused mainly on vector control. This included widely distributing chloroquine and spraying large amounts of DDT. More than one billion dollars was spent trying to abolish malaria. However, the program suffered from many problems and in 1969, WHO was forced to admit that the program had not succeeded in eradicating malaria. The number of people in Sub-Saharan Africa who contracted malaria as well as the number of malaria deaths had actually increased over 10% during the time the program was active.

One of the major reasons for the failure of the project was that it set uniform strategies and policies. By failing to consider variations between governments, geography, and infrastructure, the program was not nearly as successful as it could have been. Sub-Saharan Africa has neither the money nor the infrastructure to support such an elaborate program, and it couldn’t be run the way it was meant to. Most African countries don't have the resources to send all their people to doctors and get shots, nor can they afford to clear wetlands or other malaria prone areas. The continent’s spending per person for eradicating malaria was just a quarter of what Brazil spent. Sub-Saharan Africa simply can’t rely on a plan that requires more money, infrastructure, and expertise than they have to spare.

Additionally, the widespread use of chloroquine has created drug resistant parasites which are now plaguing Sub-Saharan Africa. Because chloroquine was used widely but inconsistently, mosquitoes developed resistance, and chloroquine is now nearly completely ineffective in Sub-Saharan Africa, with over 95% of mosquitoes resistant to it. As a result, newer, more expensive drugs need to be used to prevent and treat malaria, which further drives up the cost of malaria treatment for a region that can ill afford it.

Instead of developing plans to treat malaria after the infection has incurred, programs should focus on preventing infection from occurring in the first place. Not only is this plan cheaper and more effective, reducing the number of people who contract malaria also reduces loss of work/school days which can further bring down the productivity of the region.

One of the cheapest and most effective ways of preventing malaria is to implement insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs).  These nets provide a protective barrier around the person or people using them. While untreated bed nets are still helpful, those treated with insecticides are much more useful because they stop mosquitoes from biting people through the nets, and they help reduce mosquito populations in a community, thus helping people who don’t even own bed nets.  Bed nets are also very effective because most mosquito bites occur while the person is sleeping, so bed nets would be able to drastically reduce the number of transmissions during the night. In fact, transmission of malaria can be reduced by as much as 90% in areas where the use of ITNs is widespread. Because money is so scarce in Sub-Saharan Africa, the low cost is a great benefit and a major reason why the program is so successful. Bed nets cost roughly 2 USD to make, last several years, and can protect two adults. Studies have shown that, for every 100-1000 more nets are being used, one less child dies of malaria. With an estimated 300 million people in Africa not being protected by mosquito nets, there’s the potential to save three million lives by spending just a few dollars per person.

Reducing the number of people who contract malaria would also reduce poverty levels in Africa significantly, thus improving other aspects of society like education levels and the economy. Vector control is more effective than treatment strategies because it means fewer people are getting sick. When fewer people get sick, the working population is stronger as a whole because people are not put out of work from malaria, nor are they caring for sick relatives. Malaria-afflicted families can typically only harvest 40% of the crops that healthy families can harvest. Additionally, a family with members who have malaria spends roughly a quarter of its income treatment, not including the loss of work they also must deal with due to the illness. It’s estimated that malaria costs Africa 12 billion USD in lost income every year. A strong working population creates a stronger economy, which Sub-Saharan Africa is in desperate need of.  

This essay begins with an introduction, which ends with the thesis (that malaria eradication plans in Sub-Saharan Africa should focus on prevention rather than treatment). The first part of the essay lays out why the counter argument (treatment rather than prevention) is not as effective, and the second part of the essay focuses on why prevention of malaria is the better path to take.

  • The thesis appears early, is stated clearly, and is supported throughout the rest of the essay. This makes the argument clear for readers to understand and follow throughout the essay.
  • There’s lots of solid research in this essay, including specific programs that were conducted and how successful they were, as well as specific data mentioned throughout. This evidence helps strengthen the author’s argument.
  • The author makes a case for using expanding bed net use over waiting until malaria occurs and beginning treatment, but not much of a plan is given for how the bed nets would be distributed or how to ensure they’re being used properly. By going more into detail of what she believes should be done, the author would be making a stronger argument.
  • The introduction of the essay does a good job of laying out the seriousness of the problem, but the conclusion is short and abrupt. Expanding it into its own paragraph would give the author a final way to convince readers of her side of the argument.


Argumentative Essay Example 3

There are many ways payments could work. They could be in the form of a free-market approach, where athletes are able to earn whatever the market is willing to pay them, it could be a set amount of money per athlete, or student athletes could earn income from endorsements, autographs, and control of their likeness, similar to the way top Olympians earn money.

Proponents of the idea believe that, because college athletes are the ones who are training, participating in games, and bringing in audiences, they should receive some sort of compensation for their work. If there were no college athletes, the NCAA wouldn’t exist, college coaches wouldn’t receive there (sometimes very high) salaries, and brands like Nike couldn’t profit from college sports. In fact, the NCAA brings in roughly $1 billion in revenue a year, but college athletes don’t receive any of that money in the form of a paycheck. Additionally, people who believe college athletes should be paid state that paying college athletes will actually encourage them to remain in college longer and not turn pro as quickly, either by giving them a way to begin earning money in college or requiring them to sign a contract stating they’ll stay at the university for a certain number of years while making an agreed-upon salary.  

Supporters of this idea point to Zion Williamson, the Duke basketball superstar, who, during his freshman year, sustained a serious knee injury. Many argued that, even if he enjoyed playing for Duke, it wasn’t worth risking another injury and ending his professional career before it even began for a program that wasn’t paying him. Williamson seems to have agreed with them and declared his eligibility for the NCAA draft later that year. If he was being paid, he may have stayed at Duke longer. In fact, roughly a third of student athletes surveyed stated that receiving a salary while in college would make them “strongly consider” remaining collegiate athletes longer before turning pro.

Paying athletes could also stop the recruitment scandals that have plagued the NCAA. In 2018, the NCAA stripped the University of Louisville's men's basketball team of its 2013 national championship title because it was discovered coaches were using sex workers to entice recruits to join the team. There have been dozens of other recruitment scandals where college athletes and recruits have been bribed with anything from having their grades changed, to getting free cars, to being straight out bribed. By paying college athletes and putting their salaries out in the open, the NCAA could end the illegal and underhanded ways some schools and coaches try to entice athletes to join.

People who argue against the idea of paying college athletes believe the practice could be disastrous for college sports. By paying athletes, they argue, they’d turn college sports into a bidding war, where only the richest schools could afford top athletes, and the majority of schools would be shut out from developing a talented team (though some argue this already happens because the best players often go to the most established college sports programs, who typically pay their coaches millions of dollars per year). It could also ruin the tight camaraderie of many college teams if players become jealous that certain teammates are making more money than they are.

They also argue that paying college athletes actually means only a small fraction would make significant money. Out of the 350 Division I athletic departments, fewer than a dozen earn any money. Nearly all the money the NCAA makes comes from men’s football and basketball, so paying college athletes would make a small group of men--who likely will be signed to pro teams and begin making millions immediately out of college--rich at the expense of other players.

Those against paying college athletes also believe that the athletes are receiving enough benefits already. The top athletes already receive scholarships that are worth tens of thousands per year, they receive free food/housing/textbooks, have access to top medical care if they are injured, receive top coaching, get travel perks and free gear, and can use their time in college as a way to capture the attention of professional recruiters. No other college students receive anywhere near as much from their schools.

People on this side also point out that, while the NCAA brings in a massive amount of money each year, it is still a non-profit organization. How? Because over 95% of those profits are redistributed to its members’ institutions in the form of scholarships, grants, conferences, support for Division II and Division III teams, and educational programs. Taking away a significant part of that revenue would hurt smaller programs that rely on that money to keep running.

While both sides have good points, it’s clear that the negatives of paying college athletes far outweigh the positives. College athletes spend a significant amount of time and energy playing for their school, but they are compensated for it by the scholarships and perks they receive. Adding a salary to that would result in a college athletic system where only a small handful of athletes (those likely to become millionaires in the professional leagues) are paid by a handful of schools who enter bidding wars to recruit them, while the majority of student athletics and college athletic programs suffer or even shut down for lack of money. Continuing to offer the current level of benefits to student athletes makes it possible for as many people to benefit from and enjoy college sports as possible.

This argumentative essay follows the Rogerian model. It discusses each side, first laying out multiple reasons people believe student athletes should be paid, then discussing reasons why the athletes shouldn’t be paid. It ends by stating that college athletes shouldn’t be paid by arguing that paying them would destroy college athletics programs and cause them to have many of the issues professional sports leagues have.

  • Both sides of the argument are well developed, with multiple reasons why people agree with each side. It allows readers to get a full view of the argument and its nuances.
  • Certain statements on both sides are directly rebuffed in order to show where the strengths and weaknesses of each side lie and give a more complete and sophisticated look at the argument.
  • Using the Rogerian model can be tricky because oftentimes you don’t explicitly state your argument until the end of the paper. Here, the thesis doesn’t appear until the first sentence of the final paragraph. That doesn’t give readers a lot of time to be convinced that your argument is the right one, compared to a paper where the thesis is stated in the beginning and then supported throughout the paper. This paper could be strengthened if the final paragraph was expanded to more fully explain why the author supports the view, or if the paper had made it clearer that paying athletes was the weaker argument throughout.


3 Tips for Writing a Good Argumentative Essay

Now that you’ve seen examples of what good argumentative essay samples look like, follow these three tips when crafting your own essay.

#1: Make Your Thesis Crystal Clear

The thesis is the key to your argumentative essay; if it isn’t clear or readers can’t find it easily, your entire essay will be weak as a result. Always make sure that your thesis statement is easy to find. The typical spot for it is the final sentence of the introduction paragraph, but if it doesn’t fit in that spot for your essay, try to at least put it as the first or last sentence of a different paragraph so it stands out more.

Also make sure that your thesis makes clear what side of the argument you’re on. After you’ve written it, it’s a great idea to show your thesis to a couple different people--classmates are great for this. Just by reading your thesis they should be able to understand what point you’ll be trying to make with the rest of your essay.

#2: Show Why the Other Side Is Weak

When writing your essay, you may be tempted to ignore the other side of the argument and just focus on your side, but don’t do this. The best argumentative essays really tear apart the other side to show why readers shouldn’t believe it. Before you begin writing your essay, research what the other side believes, and what their strongest points are. Then, in your essay, be sure to mention each of these and use evidence to explain why they’re incorrect/weak arguments. That’ll make your essay much more effective than if you only focused on your side of the argument.

#3: Use Evidence to Support Your Side

Remember, an essay can’t be an argumentative essay if it doesn’t support its argument with evidence. For every point you make, make sure you have facts to back it up. Some examples are previous studies done on the topic, surveys of large groups of people, data points, etc. There should be lots of numbers in your argumentative essay that support your side of the argument. This will make your essay much stronger compared to only relying on your own opinions to support your argument.

Summary: Argumentative Essay Sample

Argumentative essays are persuasive essays that use facts and evidence to support their side of the argument. Most argumentative essays follow either the Toulmin model or the Rogerian model. By reading good argumentative essay examples, you can learn how to develop your essay and provide enough support to make readers agree with your opinion. When writing your essay, remember to always make your thesis clear, show where the other side is weak, and back up your opinion with data and evidence.

What's Next?

Do you need to write an argumentative essay as well? Check out our guide on the best argumentative essay topics for ideas!

You'll probably also need to write research papers for school. We've got you covered with 113 potential topics for research papers.

Your college admissions essay may end up being one of the most important essays you write. Follow our step-by-step guide on writing a personal statement to have an essay that'll impress colleges.

author image

Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

Ask a Question Below

Have any questions about this article or other topics? Ask below and we'll reply!

Improve With Our Famous Guides

  • For All Students

The 5 Strategies You Must Be Using to Improve 160+ SAT Points

How to Get a Perfect 1600, by a Perfect Scorer

Series: How to Get 800 on Each SAT Section:

Score 800 on SAT Math

Score 800 on SAT Reading

Score 800 on SAT Writing

Series: How to Get to 600 on Each SAT Section:

Score 600 on SAT Math

Score 600 on SAT Reading

Score 600 on SAT Writing

Free Complete Official SAT Practice Tests

What SAT Target Score Should You Be Aiming For?

15 Strategies to Improve Your SAT Essay

The 5 Strategies You Must Be Using to Improve 4+ ACT Points

How to Get a Perfect 36 ACT, by a Perfect Scorer

Series: How to Get 36 on Each ACT Section:

36 on ACT English

36 on ACT Math

36 on ACT Reading

36 on ACT Science

Series: How to Get to 24 on Each ACT Section:

24 on ACT English

24 on ACT Math

24 on ACT Reading

24 on ACT Science

What ACT target score should you be aiming for?

ACT Vocabulary You Must Know

ACT Writing: 15 Tips to Raise Your Essay Score

How to Get Into Harvard and the Ivy League

How to Get a Perfect 4.0 GPA

How to Write an Amazing College Essay

What Exactly Are Colleges Looking For?

Is the ACT easier than the SAT? A Comprehensive Guide

Should you retake your SAT or ACT?

When should you take the SAT or ACT?

Stay Informed

Follow us on Facebook (icon)

Get the latest articles and test prep tips!

Looking for Graduate School Test Prep?

Check out our top-rated graduate blogs here:

GRE Online Prep Blog

GMAT Online Prep Blog

TOEFL Online Prep Blog

Holly R. "I am absolutely overjoyed and cannot thank you enough for helping me!”

Library homepage

  • school Campus Bookshelves
  • menu_book Bookshelves
  • perm_media Learning Objects
  • login Login
  • how_to_reg Request Instructor Account
  • hub Instructor Commons

Margin Size

  • Download Page (PDF)
  • Download Full Book (PDF)
  • Periodic Table
  • Physics Constants
  • Scientific Calculator
  • Reference & Cite
  • Tools expand_more
  • Readability

selected template will load here

This action is not available.

Humanities LibreTexts

9.3: The Argumentative Essay

  • Last updated
  • Save as PDF
  • Page ID 58378
  • Lumen Learning

\( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

\( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

\( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

\( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

\( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

\( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

\( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

\( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\)

\( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\)

\( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

\( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\)

\( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

\( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\)

\( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

\( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

\( \newcommand{\vectorA}[1]{\vec{#1}}      % arrow\)

\( \newcommand{\vectorAt}[1]{\vec{\text{#1}}}      % arrow\)

\( \newcommand{\vectorB}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

\( \newcommand{\vectorC}[1]{\textbf{#1}} \)

\( \newcommand{\vectorD}[1]{\overrightarrow{#1}} \)

\( \newcommand{\vectorDt}[1]{\overrightarrow{\text{#1}}} \)

\( \newcommand{\vectE}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash{\mathbf {#1}}}} \)

Learning Objectives

  • Examine types of argumentative essays

Argumentative Essays

You may have heard it said that all writing is an argument of some kind. Even if you’re writing an informative essay, you still have the job of trying to convince your audience that the information is important. However, there are times you’ll be asked to write an essay that is specifically an argumentative piece.

An argumentative essay is one that makes a clear assertion or argument about some topic or issue. When you’re writing an argumentative essay, it’s important to remember that an academic argument is quite different from a regular, emotional argument. Note that sometimes students forget the academic aspect of an argumentative essay and write essays that are much too emotional for an academic audience. It’s important for you to choose a topic you feel passionately about (if you’re allowed to pick your topic), but you have to be sure you aren’t too emotionally attached to a topic. In an academic argument, you’ll have a lot more constraints you have to consider, and you’ll focus much more on logic and reasoning than emotions.

A cartoon person with a heart in one hand and a brain in the other.

Argumentative essays are quite common in academic writing and are often an important part of writing in all disciplines. You may be asked to take a stand on a social issue in your introduction to writing course, but you could also be asked to take a stand on an issue related to health care in your nursing courses or make a case for solving a local environmental problem in your biology class. And, since argument is such a common essay assignment, it’s important to be aware of some basic elements of a good argumentative essay.

When your professor asks you to write an argumentative essay, you’ll often be given something specific to write about. For example, you may be asked to take a stand on an issue you have been discussing in class. Perhaps, in your education class, you would be asked to write about standardized testing in public schools. Or, in your literature class, you might be asked to argue the effects of protest literature on public policy in the United States.

However, there are times when you’ll be given a choice of topics. You might even be asked to write an argumentative essay on any topic related to your field of study or a topic you feel that is important personally.

Whatever the case, having some knowledge of some basic argumentative techniques or strategies will be helpful as you write. Below are some common types of arguments.

Causal Arguments

  • In this type of argument, you argue that something has caused something else. For example, you might explore the causes of the decline of large mammals in the world’s ocean and make a case for your cause.

Evaluation Arguments

  • In this type of argument, you make an argumentative evaluation of something as “good” or “bad,” but you need to establish the criteria for “good” or “bad.” For example, you might evaluate a children’s book for your education class, but you would need to establish clear criteria for your evaluation for your audience.

Proposal Arguments

  • In this type of argument, you must propose a solution to a problem. First, you must establish a clear problem and then propose a specific solution to that problem. For example, you might argue for a proposal that would increase retention rates at your college.

Narrative Arguments

  • In this type of argument, you make your case by telling a story with a clear point related to your argument. For example, you might write a narrative about your experiences with standardized testing in order to make a case for reform.

Rebuttal Arguments

  • In a rebuttal argument, you build your case around refuting an idea or ideas that have come before. In other words, your starting point is to challenge the ideas of the past.

Definition Arguments

  • In this type of argument, you use a definition as the starting point for making your case. For example, in a definition argument, you might argue that NCAA basketball players should be defined as professional players and, therefore, should be paid.

Essay Examples

  • Click here to read an argumentative essay on the consequences of fast fashion . Read it and look at the comments to recognize strategies and techniques the author uses to convey her ideas.
  • In this example, you’ll see a sample argumentative paper from a psychology class submitted in APA format. Key parts of the argumentative structure have been noted for you in the sample.

Link to Learning

For more examples of types of argumentative essays, visit the Argumentative Purposes section of the Excelsior OWL .

Contributors and Attributions

  • Argumentative Essay. Provided by : Excelsior OWL. Located at : . License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Image of a man with a heart and a brain. Authored by : Mohamed Hassan. Provided by : Pixabay. Located at : License : Other . License Terms : – Collections of Essay for Students of all Class in English

Essay on Is Competition Really Good

All of us are different from each other, but our motive is the same. All of us want to become successful and also want to acquire knowledge. To analyze how much, we have learned it is very necessary to compete with others and take part in different competitions. I have discussed some positive aspects of the competition below and hope it will be helpful for you.

Short and Long Essays on Is Competition Really Good

Essay on Is Competition Really Good for students of class 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and class 12 in English in 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, 500 words.

Essay 1 (250 Words) – Is Competition Really Good?


All of us have some dream but the problem is the population growing day by day and the positions are less nowadays. It means not everyone can be a singer or a doctor. So, if you want to become something or you have some ability, you have to compete with others and prove yourself. This process is named as a competition. In simple words, it is a process through which you can show how you are superior to others.

Why Competition is Important

  • There are many benefits of a competition and if someone fails it does not mean they are unable, it shows they are not ready and should work hard for the next time.
  • I can say that competition helps us to improve and analyze our progress.
  • If you are one of those who work hard, then competition can really be helpful for you and will bring success for you.
  • Competition is important because it helps us to know our abilities and helps us to learn more. It also encourages people to become skilled.

Types of Competition

  • There are different types of competitions and some of them are organized whereas some of them are internal.
  • Sometimes we break our own records; we compete with ourselves and bring out the best of us. This is an internal competition.
  • When we compete with people to prove ourselves then it a worldly competition.
  • It can be organized in schools, different institutions, for filling various posts, in the employment sectors, etc.

There should be a motive for our life and we should know it and work accordingly. All of us have different abilities and to earn we can use our ability as our strongest factor. It is interesting when we are able and we compete. So, in my opinion, competition is a very good thing and it should be performed everywhere.

Essay 2 (400 Words) – Competition and its Importance

All of us want to be successful and achieve our aims. But only those are called successful who win or reach the top position. We compete to reach the top and it also helps us to improve and learn. Competition is something that helps us in many ways and should be performed in every field. We should encourage people to take part in a competition and know their abilities.

What does Competition Mean?

When a group of people, come together to win a certain post or position but it can be won by a single person, then it is called competition. It can be of any type and related to any field. There are different competitions organized in the entire world. Sometimes we win whereas sometimes we lose. Losing does not mean we are unable in fact it inspires us to work hard and try again.

Competition should always be taken in a good sense because sometimes people take it wrongly which can make them suffer. Competing in a good way will help us to progress; whereas if we compete to satisfy our envy then it is not good for us.

It can be of various types depending upon your place. It can be conducted in a school in terms of education, sports, cultural activities, etc. In-office for promotion or appraisal. In life to succeed and achieve more. Where ever we go we face competition is it is quite a good way to prove yourself.

Importance of Competition

  • It helps us to achieve success because in today’s generation we have to compete for everything and competition is the best way to prove ourselves.
  • A competition also develops confidence, suppose a child sings well and he gave a small audition conducted in his city and he won; now this will develop his confidence and now he can even face big stage easily.
  • Competition helps us to polish our skills which help us to progress. We can’t stay in the same position for a long time and competition helps us to grow.
  • All of us have certain dreams and it can be achieved only after competing with others. Therefore, we can say that it motivates us to perform well.

There are multiple benefits of competition and healthy competition will not only bring success for you but will also help you to progress and learn. Life is all about learning and competitions are the speed breakers that interrupt you to analyze how much have learned. Those who know how to handle these speed breakers will never get affected by them and will always succeed.

Essay 3 (500 – 600 Words) – How to Win a Competition

The world is full of competition, either it is in terms of education or carrier settlement. All of us prefer the best and want to be successful. You are successful only when someone fails. So, it is everywhere and is an essential part of today’s generation. Competition is something pokes us to learn because all of us want to win and we try hard. We progress when we compete and it is a good sign.

How to Win a competition

One should definitely have some strategies and plan to prepare for a competition. I have mentioned some of the best strategies which will definitely help you.

  • Analyze your ability and make correct strategy : Basically, there are two things one is ‘what you know’ and the second is ‘things you don’t know’ about a certain thing. There are some people who have lots of stamina and also confidence which helps them to learn things quickly and perform well.

First of all, you should make a list of things you know and then also make another list of topics you don’t know and then analyze yourself. Now analyze either you can complete an unknown portion within the time provided? If you can then you should definitely start preparing for it, and if can’t then should focus on what you already know and make it clearer. This is called the correct strategy.

  • Don’t take it as a competition : When you think about winning it will not allow you to learn, you will just remember things you need. Whereas once you will start learning it will increase your knowledge and, in this way, no one can stop you from winning.
  • Have proper study material : Nowadays we prefer the internet for our studies but one should also keep in mind that how much they have to read. Because the internet is like an ocean and the more you will search the more you will get confused. So, make sure the topics which you have to search for. This will save you time as well as effort.

Positive Aspects of Competition

Competition can be of any type, depending upon the situation. Sometimes we compete to look better whereas sometimes we compete to get good marks. But when the competition is healthy then it is good, otherwise, it can harm us. I have bought some positive effects of healthy competition;

  • Develops Focus : When we work hard to achieve something or to win a competition; we become more focused. Focus is something that helps us to perform well and also increases our ability to learn.
  • Helps you to Progress: When you compete with someone or want to break your own records; you work hard and when you work hard, you will automatically progress.
  • It Inspires : When we compete with someone it always inspires us; we always want to show our best and we try hard to win. It automatically motivates us.

Competition is a good thing and it does not matter in which field you are; you should always take part in different competitions to analyze yourself. They are the medium to analyze your learning and knowledge. If you want to be a Police officer, then you have to compete with others like you who also want to become a Police officer. And you have to prove yourself through a common exam. It is helpful in many ways and also helps us to learn more. In my opinion, it is a very good thing and all of us should take part in different competitions in which we can perform well.

Related Posts

Essay on digital india, cashless india essay, essay on child is father of the man, essay on causes, effects and prevention of corona virus, essay on dr. sarvepalli radhakrishnan, durga puja essay, essay on summer vacation, essay on my plans for summer vacation, essay on holiday, leave a comment cancel reply.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

  • TOEFL Writing Correction Topics
  • OET Mock Tests
  • Writing Correction
  • Speaking Mock Test
  • Reading Course
  • Listening Practice Tests
  • FREE Practice Tests
  • OET Writing Correction
  • OET Reading Course
  • OET Speaking Mock Test
  • TOEFL Writing Correction
  • PTE Writing Correction
  • OET Listening Practice Tests
  • OET (Occupational English Test)
  • PTE (Pearson Test of English)
  • PTE Sample Essay 9 – Competition: Good or Bad for Children’s Development

Competition- Good or Bad for Children’s Development

Some people say that competition is good for children’s development while others believe it is bad. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

One of the highly controversial debates today relates to whether the competition among young people is beneficial or not. In this essay, I am going to delve into the question from both points of view through presenting its merits and demerits and then give my own perspective on the matter.

On one side of the argument, there are people who content that the competition is helpful for children’s improvement. It is generally a well-known fact that competition leads to boosting versatile-development of children. It motivates and stimulates them in order to be more superior than others. For example, a student who is weak in school studies will study harder to achieve better scores than his peers in a test if there is a guaranteed prize for those who accomplish high marks. As a result, the child would end up gaining more knowledge and improving skills for his studies through hard-working.

PTE Practice

On the other hand, a competition could result in putting a lot of stress on children. In the course of competing moment, some of them can be left out due to a failure to catch up and getting behind other students. They would lose their self-esteem compared to those whose achievements are by far better and such stress they would suffer would give deteriorated impact on themselves.

In conclusion, a competition can improve children’s all-round development while it can give exceeding pressure on them more than they can deal with. However, in my opinion, I tend to believe that the benefits of competition outweigh its disadvantages.

  • 7 Steps to Prepare for the PTE Academic Test
  • PTE Write Essay & Summarize Written Text Tasks: An Overview and Quick Tips
  • PTE Writing: A Box of Tricks for Checking and Editing
  • A Guide to PTE Essay Writing: Scoring & Structure
  • High Scoring PTE Writing Templates With Tips
  • 20+ Easy Tips for PTE Writing
  • Is my typing speed slowing me down & how can I speed up my writing?
  • PTE Written Summaries: Become a Successful Summarizer in 6 Easy Steps!
  • PTE Sample Essay 1 – Family History Research
  • PTE Sample Essay 2 – Happiest Times of People’s Lives
  • PTE Sample Essay 3 – Forced Retirement Age
  • PTE Sample Essay 6 – Scientific Animal Experimentation
  • PTE Sample Essay 5 – Payment of College or University Fees
  • PTE Sample Essay 4 – Judging Person’s Worth
  • PTE Sample Essay 7 – Factors Measuring A Country’s Success
  • PTE Sample Essay 8 – Marry For Love or Money
  • PTE Sample Essay 10 – Child Obesity Health Issue
  • PTE Sample Essay 11 – Free Health Services Recipient
  • PTE Sample Essay 12 – The Reality of Crime
  • PTE Sample Essay 13 – Gender Pay Gap in European Countries
  • PTE Sample Essay 14 – Influence of Advertising
  • PTE Sample Essay 15 – Children’s Standard Behaviour
  • PTE Sample Essay 16 – Invitation of Large Foreign Companies
  • PTE Sample Essay 17 – Ambition: Good or Bad
  • PTE Sample Essay 18 – 21st Century Developments
  • PTE Sample Essay 19 – The Use of Computer
  • PTE Sample Essay 20 – Mobile Phone Problems

One thought on “PTE Sample Essay 9 – Competition: Good or Bad for Children’s Development”

Leave a reply cancel reply.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

PTE online Training

  • PTE Sample Essays
  • PTE Practice Test
  • PTE-IELTS Calculator
  • pte test format
  • pte writing
  • pte reading
  • pte speaking
  • pte listening
  • pte vs ielts

Verification Email

Remember to check Spam/Junk folders for account verification email. Also, check “Promotions” tab if you are a Gmail user.

  • Trying to Conceive
  • Signs & Symptoms
  • Pregnancy Tests
  • Fertility Testing
  • Fertility Treatment
  • Weeks & Trimesters
  • Staying Healthy
  • Preparing for Baby
  • Complications & Concerns
  • Pregnancy Loss
  • Breastfeeding
  • School-Aged Kids
  • Raising Kids
  • Personal Stories
  • Everyday Wellness
  • Safety & First Aid
  • Immunizations
  • Food & Nutrition
  • Active Play
  • Pregnancy Products
  • Nursery & Sleep Products
  • Nursing & Feeding Products
  • Clothing & Accessories
  • Toys & Gifts
  • Ovulation Calculator
  • Pregnancy Due Date Calculator
  • How to Talk About Postpartum Depression
  • Editorial Process
  • Meet Our Review Board

Pros and Cons of Competition Among Kids and Teens

Drawbacks and benefits.

  • What Is Healthy Competition?
  • How to Talk About It
  • Coping With Competition Stress

Whether it is a presidential race, a cross-country race, or the race to be the school valedictorian, competition is everywhere. But is it really a good thing? Is it something we should be instilling in our children?

There are mixed reviews when it comes to teaching kids about competitiveness. Some people feel exposing kids to competition teaches them real-life lessons about winning and losing. Others feel competition does more harm than good. Either way, there are pros and cons to both approaches.

Prepares kids for future real-life situations

Develops important life skills, like empathy

Expands comfort zone

Helps kids learn from failure

Too much unnecessary pressure

Leads to negative feelings

Destructive to self-esteem

Those who are against instilling competitiveness in kids, or even exposing them to competitions in general, believe that competition is destructive and toxic. Their fear is that it places too much pressure on kids to be the best, whether it is in a spelling bee or a soccer match. They also argue that it can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety.

Those opposed to competition believe that when children are placed in competitive settings, they are often left feeling disappointed, defeated, and bad about themselves. Worse yet, competition can be destructive to self-esteem , especially if kids feel like they do not measure up or that they are not being recognized for their efforts.

To ward off these negative experiences, many parents remove the competitive aspect of every activity and declare everyone a winner. In other words, it’s the "everyone-gets-a-trophy" mentality.

The work of Thurston Domina , professor of education policy and sociology at the University of North Carolina, indicates that turning low-stakes activities into competitions is bad for kids.

Domina's research has found that competitions do little to motivate kids. His research team observed two California high schools that gave out gold or platinum ID cards to kids who scored well on standardized tests. What they found was that the program not only had little motivation for lower-achieving students, it also increased inequality and division among students.

Positives of Competition

Those who embrace competition as a fact of life believe that a little healthy competition might actually be good for kids.

Aside from preparing them for wins and losses later in their adult life, competitive activities help kids develop important skills like resilience, perseverance, and tenacity. They also learn how to take turns, encourage others, and develop empathy.

What's more, many coaches may feel that parenting is not just about safety and security, but also about expanding a child's comfort zone. In other words, it's important for kids to get used to the frustration that comes from competition . And, more importantly, it helps them circumvent the desire to quit or give up when things get tough.

Although it is important for a child to know they are safe, it is also important to allow a child to experience the instability and uncertainty that comes from competitive situations.

One of the biggest mistakes some parents make is protecting their kids from failure. Failure is not a bad thing. It might feel uncomfortable but it is a wonderful opportunity to learn. In fact, learning from failures not only motivates kids to work harder and improve a skill, but it also can help them become more capable adults that do not crumble the first time things get tough. Kids can learn how to lose and still feel good about their efforts.

All in all, healthy competition can teach kids that it’s not always the best that are successful, but rather those who work hard and stick it out that are the real winners in the end. The key is to find healthy ways for your kids to compete.

What Does Healthy Competition Look Like?

Keep in mind that competitiveness by itself is generally not a bad thing—it's how people approach competitions that can make them unhealthy. In other words, if the only goal is to win and not learn anything in the process, kids are going to feel discouraged when they lose. But, if parents, coaches, and fans learn how to look at losing constructively, then kids will learn a lot more from the competitions they participate in.

According to Carol Dweck, Stanford psychologist and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success , it is important the competition fosters a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset.

For instance, when kids believe that the qualities they have cannot be changed, such as being bad at math, then they have a fixed mindset. Consequently, when kids have this mindset, they believe that change is not possible and they are stuck with what they are given, such as basketball ability, intelligence, artistic talent, and so on, and that they cannot change or suddenly develop soccer skills, musical talent, or a propensity for math.

What's more, according to Dweck, kids with a fixed mindset often feel the need to prove themselves over and over again and often evaluate themselves in an all-or-nothing kind of way.

Meanwhile, the opposite of a fixed mindset is the growth mindset. Kids who have a growth mindset recognize their current skills and abilities, but believe that they can change, improve, or add new skills with time and effort. As a result, when kids have a growth mindset, they are more likely to approach competition understanding that if they do not do well, it is not the end of the world. They know that they can learn and improve. And, more importantly, they are willing to try.

How to Talk to Your Child About Competition

As a parent, you have the power to help your kids think positively about competition.

For starters, healthy competition helps kids see that competition isn’t just about winning and losing. Make sure your kids know that competition is really about setting a goal and then accomplishing that goal.

In other words, instead of focusing on winning, focus on what your child has control over, such as the number of shots they take in a basketball game or the amount of time they invest in practicing for a solo and ensemble competition. At the end of the competition, the overall outcome matters less than instead whether or not they accomplish what they set out to do. 

It's important for parents to be there to support their kids through the challenges. You also need to regularly reinforce the message that it is okay to lose as long as they are working hard, putting in their best effort, and learning from the experience.

In fact, some coaches will indicate that the biggest lesson kids will learn from competition is that the biggest competitor is themselves. In other words, kids not only need to learn to believe in themselves and their abilities, but also discover that their identity is not tied to winning or losing but to their character in either scenario.

Recognize Different Types of Goals

Clearly, there are some competitive situations where the primary goal is to win. While this is fine in some situations, there is also a loser. If winning is the only goal that a child is focused on, it is bound to create an unhealthy environment.

Remember, no one has control over the outcome of a game. As a result, it is better for kids to have other goals besides winning such as a goal based on personal performance. Maybe they will still lose the game, but they will see their skill level improve in some way.

Promote Personal Traits Rather Than Outcome

Whether they are playing a sport , entering a dance competition, or participating in the science olympiad, there will be times in a child's life where they must compete with others. In these situations, take the focus off of winning and instead focus on the things they can control, like their effort.   Then, regardless of the outcome, help your kids see what they did well.

For instance, were they extremely focused? Did they show a lot of gritty behavior ? Did they manage their time well? It's important for kids to see that success is not about winning. Then, in the future, when they do not get into the college of their choice or they do not land the job they wanted, they will be able to step back and reflect on what they did well as well as where they might try to improve. 

Remember That Failure Is Part of Success

As odd as it might sound at first, allowing a child to fail is one of the most important aspects of competition.

When a child is allowed to fail, they discover that they can recover from it, learn from it, and move on from it. Failing, or losing a competition, does not have to define them.

Unfortunately, though, many children today are afraid of failure.   Maybe they are afraid others will bully them or make fun of them, or perhaps they are afraid of disappointing their parents. Whatever the reason, fear can prevent kids from trying things that are hard. When this happens, this can reduce their opportunities to grow as well as the opportunities for success.

One thing parents can do is share their experiences with failure and what they learned from it. The goal is to allow kids a chance to experience failure before they get to college. This way, when they experience challenges or failure, they will simply see it as a way of life and be able to move on in a healthy way. 

Give Your Approval Freely

Some parents will withhold love and approval when their child does not perform up to their standards or win a competition. When this happens, the child can become panicked inside because they do not feel loved or secure. What's more, they start to believe they are not enough or that they are lacking in some way and that the parent will never value them if they do not win.

More often than not, when this happens kids start working their tail off trying to make their parents happy. But trying to impress their parents is a dangerous course and can be detrimental to their mental well-being. Instead, children benefit when parents give them love and approval freely and without condition. Children should always feel like they are loved unconditionally, even when they lose.

What to Do If Competition Stresses Your Kid Out

Sometimes kids are so resistant to competition that they may refuse to participate in any competitive activity. They also might fake an illness or show signs of anxiety.  

While it is normal for kids to feel a little anxious before a big competition, they should not be so worried that it is impacting other areas of their life.

Whether it is a big game, a standardized test, band competition, or the state spelling bee, if the fear of competition is impacting your child you may want to dig deeper to see what’s under the surface. There could be anxiety or depression at play. Or, it could be just an unhealthy view of competition.

Many people will often advise against allowing an anxious child to quit an activity . Before long, quitting could become a way of life for the child if they never learn how to manage their distress. However, there are some instances when it's OK to quit, such as being bored with a sport. Parents can always talk with their child about whether their skills could be better utilized elsewhere, and encourage them to try a new activity they might be more engaged with.

The next time performance anxiety rears its ugly head, try teaching your child some calming techniques to help them keep the butterflies at bay. It's also important to provide support and reassurance as much as possible. With each stressful competitive activity the child conquers, the more mental strength and stamina they will have for competitive situations in the future. Persevering through the anxiety and the challenges that competition provides is where the real growth happens.

​A Word From Verywell

Regardless of where you stand on competition, don't forget that there are many different types of competition. And, some of them are definitely more positive than others.

To teach your kids how to be competitive in a healthy way, look for activities that have attainable goals while encouraging teamwork. And of course, look for something that is fun for your kids and going to keep them engaged so they stick with it. 

Domina T, Penner AM, Penner EK. `Membership has its privileges': Status incentives and categorical inequality in education . Sociol Sci . 2016;3:264-295. doi:10.15195/v3.a13

Hammond DA. Grit: An important characteristic in learners . Curr Pharm Teach Learn . 2017;9(1):1-3. doi:10.1016/j.cptl.2016.08.048

Rutberg S, Nyberg L, Castelli D, Lindqvist AK. Grit as Perseverance in Physical Activity Participation . Int J Environ Res Public Health . 2020;17(3):807. doi:10.3390/ijerph17030807

Masten AS. Global perspectives on resilience in children and youth . Child Dev . 2014;85(1):6-20. doi:10.1111/cdev.12205

Dweck CS. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success . Random House.

Hagger MS, Hamilton K. Grit and self-discipline as predictors of effort and academic attainment . Br J Educ Psychol . 2019;89(2):324-342. doi:10.1111/bjep.12241

Gustafsson H, Sagar SS, Stenling A. Fear of failure, psychological stress, and burnout among adolescent athletes competing in high level sport . Scand J Med Sci Sports . 2017;27(12):2091-2102. doi:10.1111/sms.12797

Ford JL, Ildefonso K, Jones ML, Arvinen-Barrow M. Sport-related anxiety: current insights . Open Access J Sports Med . 2017;8:205-212. doi:10.2147/OAJSM.S125845

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Childhood anxiety disorders .

By Sherri Gordon Sherri Gordon, CLC is a published author, certified professional life coach, and bullying prevention expert. 

MIT Technology Review

  • Newsletters

How I learned to stop worrying and love fake meat

Let’s stop inventing reasons to reject cultured meat and other protein alternatives that could dramatically cut climate emissions.

  • James Temple archive page

closeup of cultivated chicken being shredded by two forks

Fixing our collective meat problem is one of the trickiest challenges in addressing climate change—and for some baffling reason, the world seems intent on making the task even harder.

The latest example occurred last week, when Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed a law banning the production, sale, and transportation of cultured meat across the Sunshine State. 

“Florida is fighting back against the global elite’s plan to force the world to eat meat grown in a petri dish or bugs to achieve their authoritarian goals,” DeSantis seethed in a statement.

Alternative meat and animal products—be they lab-grown or plant-based—offer a far more sustainable path to mass-producing protein than raising animals for milk or slaughter. Yet again and again, politicians, dietitians, and even the press continue to devise ways to portray these products as controversial, suspect, or substandard. No matter how good they taste or how much they might reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, there’s always some new obstacle standing in the way—in this case, Governor DeSantis, wearing a not-at-all-uncomfortable smile.  

The new law clearly has nothing to do with the creeping threat of authoritarianism (though for more on that, do check out his administration’s crusade to ban books about gay penguins). First and foremost it is an act of political pandering, a way to coddle Florida’s sizable cattle industry, which he goes on to mention in the statement.

Cultured meat is seen as a threat to the livestock industry because animals are only minimally involved in its production. Companies grow cells originally extracted from animals in a nutrient broth and then form them into nuggets, patties or fillets. The US Department of Agriculture has already given its blessing to two companies , Upside Foods and Good Meat, to begin selling cultured chicken products to consumers. Israel recently became the first nation to sign off on a beef version.

It’s still hard to say if cultured meat will get good enough and cheap enough anytime soon to meaningfully reduce our dependence on cattle, chicken, pigs, sheep, goats, and other animals for our protein and our dining pleasure. And it’s sure to take years before we can produce it in ways that generate significantly lower emissions than standard livestock practices today.

But there are high hopes it could become a cleaner and less cruel way of producing meat, since it wouldn’t require all the land, food, and energy needed to raise, feed, slaughter, and process animals today. One study found that cultured meat could reduce emissions per kilogram of meat 92% by 2030, even if cattle farming also achieves substantial improvements.

Those sorts of gains are essential if we hope to ease the rising dangers of climate change, because meat, dairy, and cheese production are huge contributors to greenhouse-gas emissions.

DeSantis and politicians in other states that may follow suit, including Alabama and Tennessee, are raising the specter of mandated bug-eating and global-elite string-pulling to turn cultured meat into a cultural issue, and kill the industry in its infancy. 

But, again, it’s always something. I’ve heard a host of other arguments across the political spectrum directed against various alternative protein products, which also include plant-based burgers, cheeses, and milks, or even cricket-derived powders and meal bars . Apparently these meat and dairy alternatives shouldn’t be highly processed, mass-produced, or genetically engineered, nor should they ever be as unhealthy as their animal-based counterparts. 

In effect, we are setting up tests that almost no products can pass, when really all we should ask of alternative proteins is that they be safe, taste good, and cut climate pollution.

The meat of the matter

Here’s the problem. 

Livestock production generates more than 7 billion tons of carbon dioxide, making up 14.5% of the world’s overall climate emissions, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Beef, milk, and cheese production are, by far, the biggest problems, representing some 65% of the sector’s emissions. We burn down carbon-dense forests to provide cows with lots of grazing land; then they return the favor by burping up staggering amounts of methane, one of the most powerful greenhouse gases. Florida’s cattle population alone, for example, could generate about 180 million pounds of methane every year, as calculated from standard per-animal emissions . 

In an earlier paper , the World Resources Institute noted that in the average US diet, beef contributed 3% of the calories but almost half the climate pollution from food production. (If you want to take a single action that could meaningfully ease your climate footprint, read that sentence again.)

The added challenge is that the world’s population is both growing and becoming richer, which means more people can afford more meat. 

There are ways to address some of the emissions from livestock production without cultured meat or plant-based burgers, including developing supplements that reduce methane burps and encouraging consumers to simply reduce meat consumption. Even just switching from beef to chicken can make a huge difference .

Let’s clear up one matter, though. I can’t imagine a politician in my lifetime, in the US or most of the world, proposing a ban on meat and expecting to survive the next election. So no, dear reader. No one’s coming for your rib eye. If there’s any attack on personal freedoms and economic liberty here, DeSantis is the one waging it by not allowing Floridians to choose for themselves what they want to eat.

But there is a real problem in need of solving. And the grand hope of companies like Beyond Meat, Upside Foods, Miyoko’s Creamery, and dozens of others is that we can develop meat, milk, and cheese alternatives that are akin to EVs: that is to say, products that are good enough to solve the problem without demanding any sacrifice from consumers or requiring government mandates. (Though subsidies always help.)

The good news is the world is making some real progress in developing substitutes that increasingly taste like, look like, and have (with apologies for the snooty term) the “mouthfeel” of the traditional versions, whether they’ve been developed from animal cells or plants. If they catch on and scale up, it could make a real dent in emissions—with the bonus of reducing animal suffering, environmental damage, and the spillover of animal disease into the human population.

The bad news is we can’t seem to take the wins when we get them. 

The blue cheese blues

For lunch last Friday, I swung by the Butcher’s Son Vegan Delicatessen & Bakery in Berkeley, California, and ordered a vegan Buffalo chicken sandwich with a blue cheese on the side that was developed by Climax Foods , also based in Berkeley.

Late last month, it emerged that the product had, improbably, clinched the cheese category in the blind taste tests of the prestigious Good Food awards, as the Washington Post revealed .

Let’s pause here to note that this is a stunning victory for vegan cheeses, a clear sign that we can use plants to produce top-notch artisanal products, indistinguishable even to the refined palates of expert gourmands. If a product is every bit as tasty and satisfying as the original but can be produced without milking methane-burping animals, that’s a big climate win.

But sadly, that’s not where the story ended.

argumentative essay about is competition really good

After word leaked out that the blue cheese was a finalist, if not the winner, the Good Food Foundation seems to have added a rule that didn’t exist when the competition began but which disqualified Climax Blue , the Post reported.

I have no special insights into what unfolded behind the scenes. But it reads at least a little as if the competition concocted an excuse to dethrone a vegan cheese that had bested its animal counterparts and left traditionalists aghast. 

That victory might have done wonders to help promote acceptance of the Climax product, if not the wider category. But now the story is the controversy. And that’s a shame. Because the cheese is actually pretty good. 

I’m no professional foodie, but I do have a lifetime of expertise born of stubbornly refusing to eat any salad dressing other than blue cheese. In my own taste test, I can report it looked and tasted like mild blue cheese, which is all it needs to do.

A beef about burgers

Banning a product or changing a cheese contest’s rules after determining the winner are both bad enough. But the reaction to alternative proteins that has left me most befuddled is the media narrative that formed around the latest generation of plant-based burgers soon after they started getting popular a few years ago. Story after story would note, in the tone of a bold truth-teller revealing something new each time: Did you know these newfangled plant-based burgers aren’t actually all that much healthier than the meat variety? 

To which I would scream at my monitor: THAT WAS NEVER THE POINT!

The world has long been perfectly capable of producing plant-based burgers that are better for you, but the problem is that they tend to taste like plants. The actual innovation with the more recent options like Beyond Burger or Impossible Burger is that they look and taste like the real thing but can be produced with a dramatically smaller climate footprint .

That’s a big enough win in itself. 

If I were a health reporter, maybe I’d focus on these issues too. And if health is your personal priority, you should shop for a different plant-based patty (or I might recommend a nice salad, preferably with blue cheese dressing).

But speaking as a climate reporter, expecting a product to ease global warming, taste like a juicy burger, and also be low in salt, fat, and calories is absurd. You may as well ask a startup to conduct sorcery.

More important, making a plant-based burger healthier for us may also come at the cost of having it taste like a burger. Which would make it that much harder to win over consumers beyond the niche of vegetarians and thus have any meaningful impact on emissions. WHICH IS THE POINT!

It’s incredibly difficult to convince consumers to switch brands and change behaviors, even for a product as basic as toothpaste or toilet paper. Food is trickier still, because it’s deeply entwined with local culture, family traditions, festivals and celebrations. Whether we find a novel food product to be yummy or yucky is subjective and highly subject to suggestion. 

And so I’m ending with a plea. Let’s grant ourselves the best shot possible at solving one of the hardest, most urgent problems before us. Treat bans and political posturing with the ridicule they deserve. Reject the argument that any single product must, or can, solve all the problems related to food, health, and the environment.

Climate change and energy

The problem with plug-in hybrids their drivers..

Plug-in hybrids are often sold as a transition to EVs, but new data from Europe shows we’re still underestimating the emissions they produce.

  • Casey Crownhart archive page

These artificial snowdrifts protect seal pups from climate change

The human-built habitats shield the pups from predators and the freezing cold, but they’re threatened by global temperature rise.

  • Matthew Ponsford archive page

How thermal batteries are heating up energy storage

The systems, which can store clean energy as heat, were chosen by readers as the 11th Breakthrough Technology of 2024.

The hard lessons of Harvard’s failed geoengineering experiment

Some observers argue the end of SCoPEx should mark the end of such proposals. Others say any future experiments should proceed in markedly different ways.

Stay connected

Get the latest updates from mit technology review.

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at [email protected] with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.


  1. Argumentative Essay: Definition, Outline & Examples of Argumentative

    argumentative essay about is competition really good

  2. Essay writing competition 2013 uk in 2021

    argumentative essay about is competition really good

  3. FREE 15+ Argumentative Essay Samples in PDF

    argumentative essay about is competition really good

  4. Argumentative essay

    argumentative essay about is competition really good

  5. Sample Argumentative Essay.doc

    argumentative essay about is competition really good

  6. Tips on How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    argumentative essay about is competition really good


  1. How to Write a Good Argumentative Essay: Logical Structure

  2. How to Write an Argumentative Essay

  3. How to Write an Argumentative Essay

  4. How to Write the Best Argumentative Essay (With Examples)

  5. How to Write an Argumentative Essay

  6. How to Write an Argumentative Essay


  1. Essay on Competition: Is It Really Good for Us?

    Argumentative Essay on Competition's Pros and Cons. Is Competition Really Good? Introduction. Almost every day, people have to compete at work, in family, or in society. It may be the signing of a contract, or the winning or losing of a race, but this causes people to experience different emotions. In addition to the opportunity to feel joy ...

  2. Competition: Good Or Bad? Argumentative And Thesis Essay Example (600

    Competition is healthy and can produce excellence, even when a person loses, but it must be kept under control. Competition helps people to better themselves, leads to better products and results, and promotes growth. Competition is a force that drives people to succeed. Without it, it would be harder to motivate people.

  3. Essays About Competition: Top 6 Examples and 10 Prompts

    9. Love is Not a Competition. This quote is best for couples who fight like cats and dogs. For this writing prompt, explain how seeing your partner as a competition can destroy a romantic relationship. Then, offer tips on how your readers can make amends with their partners, reconnect with them and see them as allies.

  4. Is Competition Good? Understanding Its Impact and Benefits

    Competition can be direct or indirect in various contexts. Healthy competition fosters innovation and personal growth. Competition is driven by evolutionary and psychological factors. It spurs innovation but can also cause undue stress. Competing can lead to personal growth and teach valuable skills.

  5. Is competition always good?

    Introduction. Americans love to compete. More Americans strongly agreed than any other surveyed country's residents that they like situations where they compete. 1 Praised in various contexts, 2 competition is the backbone of US economic policy. The US Supreme Court observed, 'The heart of our national economic policy long has been faith in the value of competition.' 3 The belief in ...

  6. Essay on Competition: Is It Great for Us?

    Argumentative Essay on Competition's Advantages and disadvantages. Academic level: College. Type of paper: argumentative essay. Discipline: SOCIOLOGY. Pages: 2. Sources: 3. Format: MLA. Order similar paper. Is competition really good? Virtually every day, individuals have to compete at work, in family, or in society. It may be the signing of ...

  7. Is Competition Good: For and Against Arguments

    Is Competition Good: Argumentative Essay 02 November 2016. by ... All in all, completion has its good and bad qualities, and it is hard to say if it is really great and beneficial. They say, moderation should be in all things, and this one is not an exception. It is vital to be able to save your human qualities while competing.

  8. Free Argumentative Essays About Competition

    Competition Argumentative Essays Examples. Type of paper: Argumentative Essay. Topic: Competition, Teamwork, Human Resource Management, Employee, Management, Company, Workplace, Marketing. Pages: 4. Words: 1100. Published: 02/29/2020. ORDER PAPER LIKE THIS. Competition continues to prove to the society as an ideal approach to achieving goals ...

  9. How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    Make a claim. Provide the grounds (evidence) for the claim. Explain the warrant (how the grounds support the claim) Discuss possible rebuttals to the claim, identifying the limits of the argument and showing that you have considered alternative perspectives. The Toulmin model is a common approach in academic essays.

  10. Why Competition Is Beneficial in Education

    In this argumentative essay, a student explains why competition is beneficial in education. The student asserts that competition helps students learn teamwork, keeps students motivated, and improves social and emotional learning in students. This essay received a B by one of Kibin's paper graders.

  11. 3 Strong Argumentative Essay Examples, Analyzed

    A good argumentative essay will use facts and evidence to support the argument, rather than just the author's thoughts and opinions. ... The best argumentative essays really tear apart the other side to show why readers shouldn't believe it. Before you begin writing your essay, research what the other side believes, and what their strongest ...

  12. 160 Good Argumentative Essay Topics for Students in 2024

    Lauren Green. With a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Columbia University and an MFA in Fiction from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin, Lauren has been a professional writer for over a decade. She is the author of the chapbook A Great Dark House (Poetry Society of America, 2023) and a forthcoming ...

  13. Argumentative essay

    One of the reasons that really show competition is a good thing is it promotes growth. It is natural if you want something, you would have to compete with other people and to compete, you have to grow. Vince Lombardi once said, "Winning isn't everything, but wanting to is". ... Argumentative essay - is competition good. University ...

  14. Debate: Is Competition good for kids?

    Healthy competition inspires kids to do their best - not just good enough. When students compete they will become more inquisitive, research independently, and learn to work with others. They will strive to do more than is required. These abilities prepare children for future situations of all kinds.

  15. 9.3: The Argumentative Essay

    In an academic argument, you'll have a lot more constraints you have to consider, and you'll focus much more on logic and reasoning than emotions. Figure 1. When writing an argumentative essay, students must be able to separate emotion based arguments from logic based arguments in order to appeal to an academic audience.

  16. Essay on Is Competition Really Good

    Positive Aspects of Competition. Competition can be of any type, depending upon the situation. Sometimes we compete to look better whereas sometimes we compete to get good marks. But when the competition is healthy then it is good, otherwise, it can harm us. I have bought some positive effects of healthy competition;

  17. Argumentative essay final.docx

    Lastly, I would conclude by saying that in my knowledge there are two bad impacts of competition which I have mentioned before so one should avoid doing that. But as we know that competition is a healthy activity as it can be good like it motivate us and by that it can help us in achieving or desired goals and targets. One should choose his/her aim and just give his all focus on one objective ...

  18. PTE Essay 9

    On one side of the argument, there are people who content that the competition is helpful for children's improvement. It is generally a well-known fact that competition leads to boosting versatile-development of children. It motivates and stimulates them in order to be more superior than others. For example, a student who is weak in school ...

  19. Pros and Cons of Competition Among Kids and Teens

    Others feel competition does more harm than good. Either way, there are pros and cons to both approaches. Potential Benefits. Prepares kids for future real-life situations. Develops important life skills, like empathy. Expands comfort zone.

  20. Is Competition Good Argumentative Essay

    Globalisation - argumentative essay Globalisation is a really widespread topic. There are millions of definitions, opinions, organisations and perspectives because it concerns the whole world. This essay is a try to give some information and to explain my view of the issue.

  21. Argumentative essay about is competition really good

    An argumentative essay is one where you express your opinion. However, this opinion must be confirmed by data and textual evidence. Therefore, to form your arguments, you should research what competition is and the effects it has on people's lives. After that, you can write your essay as follows: Introduction: Introduce the subject of your essay.

  22. Writing an Argument that Supports the Characteristics of a ...

    The prompt says, "Write an argumentative essay about whether competition with other students is good motivation for success or bad for self confidence." Saundra develops this claim: "When I tried out for the swim team and I saw that the other swimmers were really fast, it made me try harder and swim faster."

  23. All essay

    In summary, competition is a good thing that helps us grow as individuals and as a society. "Prepare for the worst and work for the best", says a famous saying. Despite striving to be the greatest, we are brave enough to plan for the worst. Losing a competition is not failure, but rather a new beginning. Descriptive Essay THE AREA I WOULD ...

  24. How I learned to stop worrying and love fake meat

    Reject the argument that any single product must, or can, solve all the problems related to food, health, and the environment. Give these alternative foods a shot, afford them room to improve, and ...