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Daylight Saving Time Costs More Than It’s Worth

Proposition 7 which is to be voted on next month would repeal California’s Daylight Saving Time Act, thus ending the annual ritual of “springing forward” and “falling back” for nearly 40 million people. If passed Prop. 7 would set the state’s clocks permanently to Pacific Standard Time.

Ironically, perhaps, Election Day falls on Tuesday, Nov. 6—two days after voters will have set their clocks one hour earlier in the wee hours of Sunday morning. You might think that people consequently will be well rested and clear headed at the polls, but you’d be wrong.

Since California voters mandated daylight saving time (DST) in 1949, considerable evidence has accumulated that shifting clocks back-and- forth twice each year has significant economic costs. Because the human body’s circadian rhythms get a jolt regardless of the direction of the time change, people are less productive at work for a day or two afterward.

Much more seriously, the risks of heart attacks and automobile accidents spike. Pedestrians are more likely to be hit in the days following the return to standard time as drivers adjust to commuting home in the dark.

Despite myriad studies of DST’s effects, no evidence whatsoever has been found that moving clocks forward in the spring saves energy, which was President Nixon’s justification for getting Congress to adopt DST nationwide in the early 1970s.

William F. Shughart II is Research Director and Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, J. Fish Smith Professor in Public Choice in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University, Editor-in-Chief of Public Choice, editor of the Independent Institute book, Taxing Choice: The Predatory Politics of Fiscal Discrimination, and co-author of the Independent Briefing, Plastic Pollution: Bans vs. Recycling Solutions.

From William F. Shughart II
TAXING CHOICE: The Predatory Politics of Fiscal Discrimination
So-called “sin taxes”—the taxing of certain products, like alcohol and tobacco, that are deemed to be “politically incorrect”—have long been a favorite way for politicians to fund programs benefiting special interest groups. But this concept has been applied to such “sinful” products as soft drinks, margarine, telephone calls, airline tickets, and even fishing gear. What is the true record of this selective, often punitive, approach to taxation?

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