The song, I'm Leaving by Beyonce Knowles, is about a woman who has to choose between being in a relationship with a man who is already committed to someone else or leaving to find someone who can be hers alone.
Economics is all about making choices under scarcity. Beyonce is faced with the choice of continuing to share the man she thinks she now loves, or leaving to find a new boyfriend. She is struggling with deciding between these two paths but she can only choose one or the other, not both.
As the song continues, Beyonce realizes that she does not need to dwell anymore on her sunk costs, but instead needs to deal with the decision at hand. In economics, a sunk cost is one that has already occurred and cannot be recovered. Since these costs cannot be recovered, they are irrelevant for present and future decisions. Her sunk costs are the sum total of all the time and energy that she has wasted on this man that she cannot get back.
Beyonce realizes that by staying with the man who is already committed to someone else, she will eventually ruin his other relationship. In economics, opportunity cost is the highest valued alternative that is forgone when some activity or item is chosen. Her highest valued alternative to leaving him is staying with him and therefore we can think of his "wrecked home" as her opportunity cost of leaving the man.
Song commentary provided by:
Kim Holder, University of West Georgia
Adaptation from student work submitted by J. Sexton, T. Lockhart, and J. Drummond-Cummings (ECON 2105-04, Fall 2010)
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