The Armchair Economist: Economics and Everyday Life

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Simon and Schuster, 2012 - 336 páginas
Seat belts cause accidents because well-protected drivers take more risks. This widely documented fact comes as a surprise to most people, but not to economists, who have learned, perhaps better than most, to take seriously the proposition that people respond to incentives in complicated ways. In The Armchair Economist, Steven E. Landsburg shows how economic thinking illuminates the entire range of human behavior. But instead of focusing on the workings of financial markets, international trade, and other topics distant from the experience of most readers, Landsburg mines the details of daily life to reveal what the laws of economics tell us about ourselves. As Landsburg shows, some behavior that strikes most people as utterly unremarkable is quite extraordinary when seen through economists' eyes. Why, for example, does popcorn cost so much at the movie theater? The "obvious" answer is that the theater owner has a monopoly. But if that were the whole story then he would charge a monopoly price for use of the restrooms as well. When a sudden frost destroys much of the Florida orange crop and prices skyrocket, journalists often point to "obvious" evidence of monopoly power. Economists see just the opposite: If growers had monopoly power, they wouldn't have to wait for a frost to raise prices. Why do restaurants earn higher profits on liquor than on food? Why are some goods sold at auction and others at pre-announced prices? Why don't concert promoters raise ticket prices even when they sell out months in advance? Why do box seats at the ballpark sell out before bleachers do? Why do corporations confer huge pensions on failed executives? Landsburg wields the tools of the economist's tradeto solve these puzzles, often reaching conclusions that are at odds with our intuition. After revealing economic principles in readily apparent phenomena of everyday life, Landsburg applies these same principles to newspaper and media accounts of public issues. --Publisher description.
 

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Contenido

How Seat Belts Kill
3
Why U2 Concerts Sell Out
13
How to Split a Check
25
Who Cares If
38
Learning What Its
53
The Pitfalls of Democracy
59
The Logic of Efficiency
73
Smith versus Darwin
88
And Why
201
The Mating Game
216
Why Life Is Full
224
Armchair Forecasting
243
The Iowa Car Crop
252
How Economists Go Wrong
268
The Science
279
Notes on Sources
291

from the Media
142
Unemployment Can Be Good
166
Do We Need More Illiterates? 15 Some Modest Proposals The End of Bipartisanship 179
179

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Steven E. Landsburg is a professor of economics at the University of Rochester. He is the author of "More Sex Is Safer Sex" and "The Big Questions." He has written for "Forbes," "The Wall Street Journal, " and "Slate." He lives in Rochester, New York.

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