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Micromotives and Macrobehavior Paperback – October 17, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Mr. Schelling's [book] transformed the way many economists think about the relationship between competition and social welfare. -- Robert Frank

Mr. Schelling s [book] transformed the way many economists think about the relationship between competition and social welfare. --Robert Frank"

From the Back Cover

Micromotives and Macrobehavior deals with all involve systems of behavior where a person reacting, responding, and adapting to his surroundings fails to perceive, or doesn't care, how his actions combine with the actions of others to produce unanticipated results. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Revised edition (October 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393329461
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393329469
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Schelling's Micro Motives and Macro Behavior is food for the hungry brain. It's written for everyday folks who don't have a background in economics, but are willing to experiment. I'd recommend it for anyone who is studying the social sciences--especially if you're trying to understand where people come up with all these theories about politics, behavior, and the human world at large. Reading Schelling is like watching a favorite TV show. His prose is delightful, his selection of examples is easy for anyone to relate to (like buying lemons or adjusting a thermostat), and the way he writes, you forget that your brain is getting an intellectual workout. This book is positively sublime. You can read through it, cover to cover, in no time at all, and it's not until the end that you'll realize that you've been training your mind in positive economic theory --without the jargon, the mind-boggling graphs and charts, the formal models, the calculus, the supply and demand curves and all that googley-gunk that comes with most any primer on economics. Schelling's work is not just a classic, it's a masterpiece! And you don't need to be an economist or a doctoral candidate to appreciate it.
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Format: Hardcover
Schelling explains the world of externalities with fun examples, supported by economic logic and mathematical models. Economists describe externalities as non-optimal market solutions that arise from individuals making decisions in their own self-interest. These are interesting because most of economics deals with describing how Adam Smith's "invisible hand," individuals acting in their own self-interest, produces efficient market solutions. Notable examples of externalities are pollution, traffic congestion, and education. Education is a positive externality, while the former two are negative externalities.
Although you don't have to be a mathematician or economist to understand Schelling's writing, those who aren't may get bored with the litany of mathematical possibilities that he uses to explain why some models help explain much of the phenomena he discusses. Barring that criticism, many of his examples entice the reader to think about things in a new light. For example, why do audiences tend to sit in the middle or rear seats and not up front during performances or why do we suffer from traffic congestion? The author describes how the overall result of too much traffic or empty seats in the front rows occurs from the numerous individual decisions people make on where to sit or drive. Thus, if the front ten rows in an auditorium were empty, everyone would be better off moving forward ten rows. Nothing would change in their relative positions in the audience, but everyone could hear better. Why doesn't this occur? Read Micromotives and Macrobehavior to find out.
As an economics instructor, I would consider using this book as a supplement to a course in applied economics (or mathematics). Schelling's writing could help interest student's in the subject matter of externalities more than many of the textbooks on the market. Great read!
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By A Customer on September 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Have you ever been in one of those situations where you want to behave just like everyone else (dress-code at dinner parties, crossing the street in spite of red light, going to a hip club instead of a deserted) or NOT behaving just like everyone else (going to exotic countries and empty beaches, buying undervalued stocks) -- of course you have. Life is made of it. Schelling starts with simple situations like these and shows how important social problems can be modelled and understood from them. It is the same basic principles at work! The result is splendid, insightful and very useful for all kind of analysis, both in academic and in private life.
Schelling has a lovely way of writing. I have just cruised through a hundred pages without noticing the clock. Then I figured I probably should give this book a favourable review. You do not have to be an economist to enjoy this book, although you might want to become one after you have read it.
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By A Customer on November 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
I agree with Pierce Inverarity's remarks about this book not being too ground-breaking micro-economics. But the book is still splendid reading for the right audience. When I gave the book five stars, it was not as an economist (yes, I also heard it all in the first weeks on the introductory course in micro-economics). The book is splendid because it teaches a basic economic world-view in a way which can engage people who are utterly uninterested in this kind of thinking.
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Format: Paperback
Game theory has been criticized for being able to explain anything, yet having little predictive capability. Whatever the case, Thomas Schelling's book is a gem. He takes everyday life phenomena and applies some systematic analysis as to why these things happen. It's a quick read and when you are done you too will keep viewing any issues coming your way as if they were seeking an equilibrium. With the varied topics and colorful examples it's the 1970s equivalent of "Freakonomics".
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Format: Paperback
Micromotives and Macrobehavior shows what fun it must be to be an economist. More specifically, it shows what fun it must be to be Thomas Schelling. It's not a book of high theory; it is a book of high particularity. When Schelling walks down the street, I imagine him with a giant grin or, barring that, a notepad in his hand to take down his thoughts on whatever he might be looking at; every last bit of the world must fascinate him. The great fun in economics, to me, is not what it has to tell me about optimal investment strategies -- finance being only a small, if important, part of life -- but rather what it has to say about human behavior, and particularly human behavior in the face of other humans.

There are some basic problems of arithmetic that our desires might well create; Schelling very charmingly entitles a chapter on this subject "The Inescapable Mathematics of Musical Chairs." If we all want to live a solitary life in the country, we'll all move to the country and find ourselves surrounded by the people we were trying to escape. We can't all dispose of our Canadian quarters, says Schelling: you pawn off your quarters on me, I pawn them off on my neighbor, and yet still the total stock of quarters is exactly where it was. This accounting for musical chairs gives economics much of its power. It's what happens when you take your eyes off individuals for just a moment and think about their behavior in crowds.

What happens if no one in a university can stand being in the bottom 10% of his class? The bottom 10% will leave. Now 90% of the original class is left, and there's a new bunch in the bottom 10%. They leave. And so forth. Eventually, if this process continues, the class will whittle down to 10% of its original size.
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