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

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Simon and Schuster, Nov 1, 2007 - Business & Economics - 336 pages
6 Reviews
The extensively revised and updated edition of Steven Landsburg’s hugely popular book, The Armchair Economist—“a delightful compendium of quotidian examples illustrating important economic and financial theories” (The Journal of Finance).

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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The armchair economist: economics and everyday life

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Landsburg (economics, Univ. of Rochester) demonstrates the economist's way of thinking about everyday occurrences. The result is a compilation of questions ranging from why popcorn costs so much at ... Read full review

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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.

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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 More Sex Is Safer Sex and The Big Questions. He has written for Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and Slate. He lives in Rochester, New York.

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