- Paperback: 255 pages
- Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (February 10, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812977874
- ISBN-13: 978-0812977875
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 67 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #239,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World Paperback – February 10, 2009
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
“Highly readable, funny and daringly contentious . . . a whopping good time.”
–San Francisco Chronicle
“[Tim] Harford sets off on an enormously entertaining yarn backed by the findings of expert economists. He spins playfully, but smartly, across matters of sex, crime, gambling, addiction, marriage, racism, ghettos and politics, and he makes it all, well, titillating at times. Really.”
“Harford has a knack for explaining economic principles and problems in plain language and, even better, for making them fun.”
–The New York Times
“[Harford] is an amiable guide for the non-specialist reader . . . but his command of the subject is such that even a well-schooled economist will discover much that is new.”
“Highly engaging . . . entertaining and provocative.”
“A fascinating work with many ‘aha’ moments.”
“Smart, charming, penetrating, and wise.”
–Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics
“Chock-full of numbers and money talk, but oddly entertaining.”
“Charming and informative.”
“Like Harford’s earlier book, The Undercover Economist–if you haven’t got it, get it–this book uses the basic theory of rational choice to make transparent the logic behind common but important puzzling phenomena. Even a trained economist can enjoy discovering what he didn’t realize he already knew. I did.”
–Thomas C. Schelling, 2005 Nobel Laureate in Economics
“This witty, intelligent book will help you see the entire world in a new light.”
–Tyler Cowen, author of Discover Your Inner Economist
About the Author
Tim Harford is the author of the bestseller The Undercover Economist and The Logic of Life and a member of the editorial board of the Financial Times, where he also writes the “Dear Economist” column. He is a regular contributor to Slate, Forbes, and NPR’s Marketplace. He was the host of the BBC TV series Trust Me, I’m an Economist and now presents the BBC series More or Less. Harford has been an economist at the World Bank and an economics tutor at Oxford University. He lives in London with his wife and two daughters.
From the Hardcover edition.
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-7 of 67 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
However, according to “The Logic of Life” by Tim Harford, these and a number of other “human nature” behaviors actually have rational motivations. This book explores human rational calculations at individual and societal levels with the eyes of an economist.
Just saying a behavior is rational is like a cheap version of the evolutionary theory. Just any biological traits can be explained by the survival advantage it brings to the table, any human behavior can be explained by some reasoning behind it. If that were what the book was about, it would not be very interesting. Fortunately, this book is more than that. It tells stories and researches that show the connections between rational reasoning and behavior with intricate experiments and data analyses. While the book focuses on rationality, the author is ready to admit that many (perhaps more) human behaviors are irrational. The author also goes out of his way to address possible objections. Some of the objections were conceded, others were fended off with more research and data. All of such deliberations make the book an enjoyable read.
The topics impressing me the most are rational reactions of the disadvantaged. The author pointed out that racial discrimination can be irrational (hate) or rational (stereotype). However, the effect on the victim group is the same. They lose motivation to improve their qualification and even resent their members who actually want to improve. Another counter-intuitive (although well known) fact is that the lack of trust mechanism hurts not only the party who need to trust but also the party who need to be trusted. In a totalitarian society, there is no credible way to check and balance the behavior of the ruler. Therefore, people cannot trust the rulers will keep any promise of compromise. Their only rational option is overthrowing the rule through revolution, although revolution incurs a high cost to the people as well.
When started the book, I thought it was a knockout of “Freakonomics.” But I was pleasantly surprised. It covers different topics and covers better. The author also wrote the famous book “The Undercover Economist,” which I read many years ago. I was not that impressed then. Maybe it’s time to reread that book.
This is an interesting enough discussion of everyday human action reflecting rational economic calculation--however counterintuitive it seems at first blush. From my armchair this looks like part of a trend of economics grounded who-woulda-thunk-it books cashing in on *Freakonomics*, although the specific examples (see below) are usually thought provoking. Definitely written for the self-styled "advanced layman", as I flatter myself as being, so it worked for me, generally.
Brief Content Summary:
Teens engaging in oral sex, third world prostitutes not using condoms, companies promoting crooks and boneheads to multimillion dollar executive positions, poker playing game theorists, are all acting, in a sense, rationally. There is an economic logic for divorce when women have better opportunities outside dysfunctional marriages; despite our romantic ideals, we are economic thinkers when mating.
More disturbing is that segregated housing and even racially influenced employment decisions have an economic logic "rational racism": Research shows that "black looking" names are a detriment in employment applications, all other things being equal. Other research shows that, in a reinforcing cycle, minorities learn they are more likely to be rejected, see no point in excelling, which in turn reinforces the half-truth that is the basis for rejection. (I found that part so compelling and interesting I'm assigning it in my race and crime class.)
Voters are rationally ignorant because their vote counts functionally for nothing, as are the victims of special interest lobbies like the subsidized sugar industry. Revolutions against corrupt and oppressive states are rare and hard to initiate because most individuals rationally and avoid direct conflict with the state.
It ends with a somewhat clumsy apologetic for defense of property rights and an optimistic appraisal of the human prospect that can occur when (I guess this is the point), we let people act in their own interests. People innovate and create wealth. If this addendum had its own "logic of life" I missed it, to be sure.
It's funny that I write this now that Chris Ferguson, the mathematics-game-theorist whiz kid who rocked the house in Vegas using game theory principles, is among those now being indicted by the state department for a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme from his gambling website. No doubt Harford would have a "rational actor" explanation. Maybe sometimes people just do stupid stuff because they have a warped *perceived* reality.
The book reads very quickly and the various studies and papers are presented in an easily digestible format. Worthwhile reading for anyone with a passing interest in economics. Serious readers should go for the articles in the bibliography instead.