The Armchair Economist (revised and updated May 2012): Economics & Everyday Life (Google eBook)

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Simon and Schuster, Nov 1, 2007 - Business & Economics - 336 pages
6 Reviews
Revised and updated May 2012.

In this revised and updated edition of Steven Landsburg’s hugely popular book, he applies economic theory to today’s most pressing concerns, answering a diverse range of daring questions, such as:

Why are seat belts deadly?
Why do celebrity endorsements sell products?
Why are failed executives paid so much?
Who should bear the cost of oil spills?
Do government deficits matter?
How is workplace safety bad for workers?
What’s wrong with the local foods movement?
Which rich people can’t be taxed?
Why is rising unemployment sometimes good?
Why do women pay more at the dry cleaner?
Why is life full of disappointments?

Whether these are nagging questions you’ve always had, or ones you never even thought to ask, this new edition of The Armchair Economist turns the eternal ideas of economic theory into concrete answers that you can use to navigate the challenges of contemporary life.

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This book is probably not going to help you pass Microeconomics, or score high on the AP Micro exam, but it will make an otherwise dull and rigid course interesting and full of debate.
, the archetypal Chicago economist, uses a variety of concepts from introductory microeconomics to pen a few dozen chapters that are framed around everyday phenomenon. For example "How Seat Belts Kill" analyzes the power of incentives by demonstrating that the introduction of seat belts removed the incentive to drive safe and slow, thus leading to more auto accidents and defeating the purpose of safety features.
While you must read Landsburg's conclusions with a proverbial grain of salt, his book is quite useful in making microeconomics "come alive." Your economics textbook probably has neutral and non-thought provoking examples about pizzas and robots (unless you are using Mankiw's lively text). Landburg's examples are too controversial for a mainstream text targeting a large audience. However, I personally find the controversial more engaging than the plain.


How Seat Belts Kill
Why the Rolling Stones Sell Out
How to Split a Check
Who Cares If the Air Is Clean?
Learning What Its All About
The Pitfalls of Democracy
The Logic of Efficiency
Smith Versus Darwin
Do We Need More Illiterates?
The End of Bipartisanship
The Mating Game
Why Life Is Full
Armchair Forecasting
A Primer
The Iowa Car Crop
Was Einstein Credible? The Economics

How the Atlantic
The Mythology of Deficits
Spurious Wisdom from the OpEd Pages
Unemployment Can Be Good for You
How Economists Go Wrong
The Science
Notes on Sources

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Page 3 - Most of economics can be summarized in four words: "People respond to incentives.
Page vii - First, it is about observing the world with genuine curiosity and admitting that it is full of mysteries. Second, it is about trying to solve those mysteries in ways that are consistent with the general proposition that human behavior is usually designed to serve a purpose.

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About the author (2007)

Steven E. Landsburg is a Professor of Economics at the University of Rochester.  He is the author of The Armchair Economist, Fair Play, More Sex is Safer Sex, The Big Questions, two textbooks in economics, a forthcoming textbook on general relativity and cosmology, and over 30 journal articles in mathematics, economics and philosophy. His current research is in the area of quantum game theory. He blogs daily at For over ten years, he wrote the monthly "Everyday Economics" column in Slate magazine, and has written regularly for Forbes and occasionally for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. He appeared as a commentator on the PBS/Turner Broadcasting series "Damn Right", and has made over 200 appearances on radio and television broadcasts over the past few years. 

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