Top positive review
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Great Book to Complement a Textbook
on June 30, 2013
Note: This is essentially an applied microeconomics book. You won't find too much macroeconomics in this book (maybe that's a good thing though). I am a professor of economics and in the process of writing a detailed outline for an undergraduate Survey of Economics course for Organizational Leadership majors. The main text I am using is Economics by McConnell, Brue, and Flynn. Economics of Public Issues is a required book to complement the main text. This book is very easy for students to read. The chapters are very short (2-5 pages) and the examples are excellent. A theme throughout this book is the role of negative unintended consequences of government policy. I have never taken nor taught a course in public policy or political science, but this book might make a great complement in those fields as well.
I intentionally chose the 16th edition because of price; used copies are selling for about $1 + shipping. There are some small changes between the 18th and 17th editions. I was given a copy of the 14th edition in 2008, and there are a number of differences between the 14th and 16th edition. The authors seem to make changes to update the book based on current events.
Each chapter has about 4 discussion questions. I plan assign two chapters a week for homework, and two for in-class discussion. For online courses, I plan to use the questions for graded discussion board posts. I have found that quality of online student discussion board is much better when the questions are "real world" in nature instead of generic or technical textbook questions. This book has very interesting "real world" examples and can stimulate debate among students. For example, the chapter on drugs, alcohol, and prostitution makes the point that quality of these "goods" is low when they are illegal. Does this mean that drugs should be legal? Students can discuss the costs and benefits. On another note, I like that the book clearly outlines negative effects regarding laws on rent controls and the minimum wage. Finally, I am very happy with the chapter on the mortgage meltdown as it discusses the government's role in over-subsidizing the housing market, and encouraging moral hazard and adverse selection in bank lending.
Update: I decided to adopt the 17th edition after all. The 17th edition has a chapter on health care and PPACA, a chapter on underground markets, and a chapter on the looming pension crisis. These chapters were removed in the 18th edition. My impression of the 18th edition is that it is very heavy on environmental economics. This might be good or bad depending on which course an instructor uses this book for. The 17th edition does the best job for my course.