Financial savings from cows

http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21587226-cattle-may-be-terrible-investment-decent-savings-vehicle-udder-peoples Cows are highly valued in India.

Many people have cows here, particularly in the rural areas, and much less so in the cities. Regardless, this is not only because cows are valued religiously in the Hindu culture, but also because they are used as a form of savings. Cows are very valuable because they can produce milk, dung, and calves. Of course, they can also be expensive to take care of.

Economic myopia discusses how people often impulsively spend money rather than saving it. In other words, spending is much easier than saving. One of the major reasons cows are used in India as a form of ‘savings’ is that a cow is not cash. Of course, if one sells the cow, he will earn money for it, but the cow itself is not bills of Indian rupees piled up.  People can also become attached to their cows (like pets), so trading it for money has more psychological affects than just spending money. It is harder for someone to sell their cow than to just spend, and this is a huge reason as to why cows are used as a form of savings (instead of money).

Similar things are done in other countries. Some people use their sheep, goats, horses, etc as forms of savings. Others save gold and silver jewelry, pass it down within generations, as a form of savings.

3 Comments »

  1. milsteib Said,

    November 25, 2013 @ 1:19 am

    This article seems to make no sense. How can cows be considered a form of savings when there is a negative return? Seemingly the people would be better off just stuffing their money in a mattress

  2. solaimay Said,

    December 4, 2013 @ 1:34 am

    What do you mean by negative return? As in cows are expensive to raise, own, feed, etc? I understand that but they are also worth a lot of money. I’m not exactly sure how much, haha, but I can imagine they are worth a decent amount when they are sold. I do understand your point that they are expensive to raise, but I’d imagine the amount they are worth is greater than the cost of raising them, though I don’t know exact numbers.

    Things like this happen a lot around the world. I’m from Pakistan, and I’ve seen many similar situations there and other places I’ve travelled, like Saudi Arabia, where some people keep camels as a form of savings. Keep in mind, it’s generally the less fortunate who do this. Often living in small houses, tents, huts, etc – they often just tie their animal to a tree rather than having an actual fenced home for them. This helps keep the expenses down.

    I understand what you’re saying, and I don’t know the numbers to back up the article, but I’m sure there is some logic behind it if so many people are practising in this. I think something like using gold jewellery as savings would make much more sense, since there is no price for “raising” it or keeping it alive, but this is common too. Again, I don’t know or have numbers to back this up, but perhaps buying a new born calf is cheaper than a golden necklace/chain, so in order to have immediate results, they purchase a baby cow instead.

  3. Matt Said,

    December 7, 2013 @ 10:02 pm

    I liked this article and found it interesting. In the world we are all exposed to today at Dickinson College, not many of us think about savings as anything but in a bank, or maybe some cash in a secret hiding spot. Having cows a sort of savings is a very different concept, and I thought it was cool that another part of the world could work like that.

    It is a savings that can be useful to the person who owns it, and continuously pays dividends, and any point. There are many many uses for this ‘savings’ system, and I’m sure it is really easy to sell of any cows at any point in time, which the same cannot be said of certain stocks or investment plans.

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