The Armchair Economist (revised and updated May 2012): Economics & Everyday Life (Google eBook)
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.
What people are saying - Write a review
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.
Landsburg, 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.
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
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
Notes on Sources