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The Economics of Life: From Baseball to Affirmative Action to Immigration, How Real-World Issues Affect Our Everyday Life Paperback – January 1, 1998

22 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 063-9785302735 ISBN-10: 0070067090 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"The great majority of people are more rational and make fewer mistakes in promoting their own interests than even well-intentioned government officials," writes this impressive couple (Gary won the 1992 Nobel Prize for Economics). The short, column-length essays that make up this volume first appeared in Business Week magazine and show for a popular audience how market incentives influence human behavior in countless ways. The Beckers criticize centralized planning, racial quotas and trade tariffs, and endorse drug legalization, privatized social security and school vouchers. They also veer into unexpected terrain, addressing religion, sports and marriage with keen insight. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

``Mr. Becker ranges widely across the current scene, examining goverment spending, taxation, gun conntrol, and even sports and religion.'' (Henderson, David R. The Wall Street Journal 1996-11-19) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 1 edition (January 22, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0070067090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0070067097
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #589,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Denis Benchimol Minev on February 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a collection of articles Becker has published during his career as an economic contributer to Business Week. After having read some of Becker's other books, I came to the conclusion that this book is two things:
1) An easy to understand intro to the usage of economic principles to solve problems. Becker's other books were essentially on similar topics, but with a much more rigorous analysis.
2) An intro to new topics that could be approached from a much more rigorous standpoint. Becker's curious mind actually points out to many issues (such as immigration, affirmative action, and many other gov't issues) that would benefit from a more rigorous economic approach.
Good entertainment value, with about 80% of essays really interesting and the rest fillers.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By amznecon on April 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
This works provides great insight into the economic thinking and reasoning of one of the greatest living economists. It is simple enought for someone without a economics background to understand, yet complex enough for advanced students of economics to study and debate. A great work.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By EconoCritic on November 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
Based on Becker's columns in Business Week, the book is starting to suffer from the fact that the columns are dating, and that any book made up of columns is bound to get a bit repetitive and disjointed.

That said, the original columns are well-written and often provocative. It's not the best introduction to Becker's economics, which is more distinctive than this material, but it is a good read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. W. MacKenzie on May 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Economics of Life is a good anthology of Becker's short policy papers over the years. As such, it is useful as a supplemental text for introductory microeconomics. Some might find this book dry reading, but it is quite entertaining compared to standard textbooks.

This book should reach a wider audience too. Now that Milton Friedman is gone, Becker is THE leading proponent of Chicago Rational Choice microeconomics. Those who want to understand policy issues should read this book because it is about the easiest way to get a feel for Chicago microeconomics. See also Hidden Order by David Friedman.

Given the controversial nature of this book it has drawn fire, and will continue to do so. While I freely admit that Chicago price theory has limits, it also has useful applications and relevance. Read The Economics of Life first, judge its merits later.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By M. Nowacki on May 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
Throughout school students are always complaining about how applicable subjects like economics, math, sociology, etc., really are. Nobel Prize winner Gary Becker helps fill this void in economics. Although I found some of his solutions to social problems too simplistic, it is an interesting read and it is sure to get you thinking. I personally like the books organization and structure. It is a composition of Becker's columns in Business Week and each column is about 1.5 pages. I liked this book because when I sit on the toilet I can get through a column or two. It is also good for a stationary bike or reading in heavy traffic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Claire Mbeki on May 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
Nobel Prize winner Gary Becker published this collection of articles in the mid1990s. Even if dated, the book is a high-quality and straightforward way to understand basic economics and apply economic theory and principles to daily life. Most of the articles are interesting, it is easy to read both in content and length, the writing is consistently fine and the analysis insightful. It also sparked the vast amount of more recent books of the same fashion like Harford's Undercover economist, Landsburg's Armchair economist, Friedman's Hidden order or Leavitt's Freakonomics. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Athan on December 28, 2014
Format: Paperback
I was first exposed to Gary Becker (as well has his lifelong co-author Richard Posner and Mitchell Polinsky to boot) my Sophomore year in college when I took a seminar in Law and Economics. Back then in 1988 he was one of the few brave academic advocates of drug legalisation (the subject of my eventual paper) and he wrote soooo well, I was hooked. I have followed him since. In recent years I have been an avid reader of the Posner / Becker blog. It has indeed been my first daily click on the Internet, in the hope that they have overnight delivered their trenchant verdict on yet another current issue. That said, I'd never found time for "The Economics of Life," a book I bought a long time ago together with Robert Barro's "Getting it Right." Now, of course, Gary Becker has been taken from us, there will be no more fresh entries in the blog, so I reached into my shelves for a shot of methadone, so to speak.

Sadly, it's not very representative of the rest of his work.

For starters, it's not really a book, it's a compilation of 800-word essays he wrote for Newsweek in the late eighties and early nineties. The timing here is critical. These essays were written at a juncture when "free market" ideology, of which Becker was a prominent preacher, was at its apogee, possibly even its moment of hubris. Keen to give a "coup de grace" to the mortally wounded ideology of central planning and hyper-regulation that suffered its biggest blow with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Becker is having his own "end of history" moment here.
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