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Economics: A Very Short Introduction [Paperback]

Partha Dasgupta
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 5, 2007 0192853457 978-0192853455
Here Partha Dasgupta, an internationally recognized authority in economics, presents readers with a solid introduction to its basic concepts, including efficiency, equity, sustainability, dynamic equilibrium, property rights, markets, and public goods. Throughout, he highlights the relevance of economics to everyday life, providing a very human exploration of a technical subject. Dasgupta covers enduring issues such as population growth, the environment, and poverty. For example, he explores how the world's looming population problems affect us at the local, national, and international level.

Economics has the capacity to offer us deep insights into some of the most formidable problems of life. Here, Dasgupta goes beyond the basics to show it's innate effects on our history, culture, and lifestyles.

About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.

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Editorial Reviews



About the Author

Partha Dasgupta is Frank Ramsey Professor of Economics, University of Cambridge and Fellow of St John's College. Among his many published books and articles is the widely acclaimed Human Well-Being and the Natural Environment.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 172 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (March 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192853457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192853455
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 4.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A short but ethical introduction to economics July 22, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Partha Dasgupta writes in his Preface of A Very Short Introduction: "... in one way or another we are all economists. ... As economics matters to us, we also have views on what should be done to put things right when we feel they are wrong. And we hold our views strongly because our ethics drive our politics and our politics inform our economics. .... I should ... offer an account of the reasoning we economists apply in order to understand the social world around us and then deploy that reasoning to some of the most urgent problems Humanity faces today." As it is fairly obvious from the quoted passage Partha Dasgupta is a concerned and ethical person; thus, he frames his discussions of many economic concepts, such as "grim strategy" (you come to know what strategy the overpaid executives of failing companies apply when planning to quit their positions) and "ideal market," with the life stories of his metaphorical grandchildren, Becky and Desta, representing the post-industrial developed society and the economically under-developed society respectively. Partha Dasgupta's narrative is at times dry - as one expects from a book of economics - but with the framing device of practical examples he added a breath of life to his exposition. I recommend this book to anybody who has always been interested in economics but has not had much time to read a lengthy book of economics.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why I Assign This Book to Freshmen January 15, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a game theorist's short introduction to economics. It focus on on: individual goals, individual opportunities and constraints, individual incentives, strategies, exchange, trust, and equilibrium outcomes. It is, of course, greatly concerned with wealth and poverty--that is, after all, the point of the discipline of economics: it is an inquiry into nature and causes of the wealth of nations. You won't find lots of practice figuring out how price and quantity change in response to demand shocks or calculating multipliers. What you will find is the logic and rationale for why figuring out how price and quantity change in response to demand shocks or calculating multipliers is a worthwhile thing to do.

Definitely five stars.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars broad and informative February 23, 2010
Awesome book.

If you want a textbook, get something else...

The strengths of this book are: it avoids the trap of doing a developed-world only description, it really allows you to appreciate how economists think, it ties economic concepts to concepts from other disciplines. It can get technical sometimes for the least mathematical readership, but still a must read.

Chapter 5 alone justifies buying the book (Science and technology as institutions).
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not always clear August 2, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is probably not the best intro to economics book (i.e. it is a little too concise in places), but I liked it nevertheless. Overall, the author did do a great job explaining ideas given that it was intended to be so short. I feel like I have a much better understanding now of why the quality of life is so different between "rich" and "poor" nations. The main draw back is that there's little to no iteration i.e. I usually learn by being exposed to a concept or term several times but in this short book there's no room for that - you're told about a concept once (if at all). Regardless, this book is interesting and does makes you want to learn more about the subject, so I think you ought to give it a try.
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30 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The extent of the market depends on trust February 2, 2009
Not so long ago, economics had a major image problem. University enrolments were down, and the public impression of an economist was of a heartless,graph-wielding, bean-counter. I am not sure if enrolments are higher today, or if economists are better liked. Yet in the publishing world, it is an undeniable fact that popular economics has become much more, well, popular.

The professional reaction to this commercial popularity has not been one of uniform gratitude. One must assume a certain amount of jealousy towards the fame and fortune of the lucky first movers. Yet there is also a feeling that some of the best-sellers have trivialised economics, titillating the reader with sex and drugs while neglecting the more important insights of the discipline.

Nobody could accuse Partha Dasgupta of deepening this rut. In this Very Short Introduction, he has taken as his theme the original mystery of economics: the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. And he motivates the study not with unadorned GDP statistics but by comparing the lives of two young girls: Becky, who lives in an affluent American suburb, and Desta, the daughter of Ethiopian farmers. Why do two children, born so much alike, live such different lives?

The question is compelling, and presents an opportunity to explore many branches of economics, in a concrete and relevant way. Unfortunately, Dasgupta does not use it consistently. While there are many references to `Desta's world' and `Becky's world', these are too often brief appendages to abstract discussions of agents A, B and C and factors X, Y and Z. At times one could be reading a textbook, except there are no problem sets, fewer graphs, and the pictures are in black and white.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Economics in the Very Short Introduction Series November 9, 2013
The Very Short Introductions series of Oxford University Press provides succinct introductions to more subjects than a person can reasonably hope to know. Parath Dasgupta offers a brief, pointed look at Economics in this 2007 volume in the series. Dasgupta is the Frank Ramsey Professor of Economics at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge. Dasgupta was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his work in economics and has written many important books and studies.

"A little learning is a dangerous thing"; and a "very short introduction" does not have to be easy. Dasgupta's book is not written "for dummies" and it does not present its subject in the manner of an introductory textbook. Instead, Dasgupta offers the lay reader an example of how economists define problems and issues and try to solve them. In other words, the book offers the reader an example of how to "think like an economist". This gives the book a dense character. Dasgupta develops his own way of approaching and his position of questions of economics, neither of which might be fully shared by all members of his profession.

At the outset, Dasgupta makes two broad worth noting. First, he ties in economics with politics and, especially with ethics. Unlike some scientists who might try to minimize ethical, philosophical questions, Dasgupta is quite clear that ethical commitments are a driving force behind economics and politics. The second point involves Dasgupta's approach to economic questions. He rejects a historical, "narrative" approach because of the difficulty of supporting one proposed "narrative" over another. Dasgupta's approach is heavily analytical and quantitative, relying on mathematical modeling, statistics, and game theory.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars informative
Very informative book, good introduction to an interesting topic. I wanted to start somewhere simple on this topic and I like this series. It's a good place to always start.
Published 4 months ago by Stephen Padgett
1.0 out of 5 stars A NO Introduction
The title of this book gives the impression that it's an introduction to economics -- a primer. It's a poor representation of a primer as it is worded and presented for those who... Read more
Published 13 months ago by PDA
3.0 out of 5 stars Inconsistent with other Very Short Introductions
I have not yet read all that many AVSI titles yet, but I have read several. I feel like this one was only the first few chapters of an Econ 101 class while other discipline... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Good informative introduction
This book can get technical at times, but for someone who has a sincere interest in getting a feel for the general workings of economics, I highly recommend this book. Read more
Published on July 29, 2009 by S. Sargent
3.0 out of 5 stars Is a very short exposition on the problems of population and economic...
This book is mistitled.It is primarily an overview of the problems facing countries like China,India,Indonesia,Pakistan,and Bangladash which have a combined population of 3. Read more
Published on June 17, 2008 by Michael Emmett Brady
2.0 out of 5 stars More "Personal Statement" than Intro to Economics
This book is a disappointment. As someone reasonably knowledgeable about economics, I was looking for a good summary statement of the discipline. This book is not that. Read more
Published on May 21, 2008 by Professor seeking balance
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing
If you're looking for a VSI to Econ 101 and 102, skip this book. The treatment of microeconomic basics consists of exactly 14 pages. Macroeconomic theory gets a whopping 4 pages. Read more
Published on September 25, 2007 by Stephen M. Bainbridge
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