Guide The Economic Naturalist: Why Economics Explains Almost Everything

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Be the first to ask a question about The Economic Naturalist. Lists with This Book. Dec 11, Caroline rated it liked it Shelves: I think this is the perfect book for do-it-yourself Christmas crackers. Instead of all those pathetic jokes, why not bless your crackers with a pithy conundrum?

Something to really chew over as you down your Christmas pudding? The book is presented as a serious of questions and answers centred around different topics. I didn't really pay attention to the economic theory underpinning these topics, I just took each question on its own merit, and read the ones that interested me. Herewith a few of t I think this is the perfect book for do-it-yourself Christmas crackers. Herewith a few of them Why have top earner's salaries been growing so much faster than everyone else's? I would argue with a lot of this spoiler, but it is nonetheless interesting view spoiler [ Although many factors are involved, one in particularly stands out - the rapid acceleration of technological changes that increase the leverage of the most able individuals.

Markets are now world-wide, not just country-wide. The are also phenomenally competitive. Executive decisions have become much more important to the bottom line. We don't judge academics this way. We judge them on their research, and the number of articles they get published in scholarly journals etc. In September it was 4. This is because people in America who are not working have a much tougher life than those in Germany who are not working.

Americans without jobs have difficulty making ends meet. By contrast, the unemployed in Germany can qualify for government support that will satisfy their basic needs indefinitely. I feel this is worded in a prejudiced way I think it is far better that people are supported than thumped down on the hard rock of poverty. Added to which, unemployment benefits are far from being wonderful in European countries. Not a good basis for a life of leisure and pleasure, which I feel is slightly insinuated here It's because these policies benefit the sugar producers. With that much at stake, producers not only write letters but also hire skilled lobbyists to argue their case.

More importantly, they make substantial campaign contributions to legislators who support the sugar tariff. In recent years the average price of a litre of petrol, including all taxes, has been almost twice as high in Europe as in the US. It makes me proud to be British! Guest lists frequently total from three hundred to five hundred people, even at weddings of middle-income couples.

Japanese couples cast such a broad net in part because the society relies heavily on informal social and business networks. Failing to invite someone to a wedding who might have expected to be invited risks a social rupture that jeopardises one's standing. Expansive Japanese wedding guest lists may thus be seen as an investment in maintaining important social and business networks. You of course may find your appetite whetted by totally different questions.

I also took umbrage to a couple of things. Why are physically attractive people more intelligent than others, on average?

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I don't care what the research says and it sounds rather flimsy I looked back over my long life and found that many of the most intelligent people I have known have been as ugly as peanuts. Physically attractive people may garner more attention from teachers, employers and potential partners , but I really don't think they are more intelligent The author also prints an essay by one of his students, in response to this very loaded question.

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Why do animal-rights activists target fur-wearing women but leave leather clad bikers alone? What the student's essay fails to mention is that the production of fur is often infinitely crueller than the production of leather. This is the reason animal-rights activists pay it so much attention. I would recommend getting this book from the library rather than buying it, then you can casually pick and choose the subjects that appeal to you, without feeling any pressure to read the whole book.

Thee economic naturalist

I thoroughly enjoyed just dipping into the topics that interested me. View all 20 comments. I had anticipated enjoying this book, as I am a fan of "popular economics" - especially of stuff like the brilliant "Undercover Economist", or "Freakonomics". I was, hoewever, very disappointed with this book. What seemed an interesting premise, a collection of short answers to everyday economics questions by students, seems to have resulted in a rag-bag collection of "just-so" stories used to explain the various questions.

When I say that the most enlightening thing I picked up was why DVD case I had anticipated enjoying this book, as I am a fan of "popular economics" - especially of stuff like the brilliant "Undercover Economist", or "Freakonomics". When I say that the most enlightening thing I picked up was why DVD cases and CD cases are of a different size hint - shelf stacking , you may begin to appreciate my disappointment. I didn't finish the book - which means I have to give it one star.

May 10, Cris rated it really liked it.

A little too obvious. I think the kids should read it. Jan 22, bkwurm rated it it was ok. I was a little disappointed with the book. While the book is subtitled "why economics explains almost everything", too many of the examples provided were things that economics could not explain while other explanations were clearly wrong.

The book is a compilation of short essays from the author's students. Briefly, the author invited his students to think of an interesting question and to then answer it. What appears to have happened is that some of his students chose to ask rather simple questi I was a little disappointed with the book.

What appears to have happened is that some of his students chose to ask rather simple questions and then to answer them. The result is a somewhat uneven book, great in some parts, quite blah in others. An ok book but not in the same class as freakanomics or the undercover economist. May 02, Hiep Nguyen rated it really liked it. Interestingly read with dozens of short stories aiming to train your mind to The content is wide yet the depth of each story is not enough but I think it's mostly understandable entertaining enough as a starter for new learners to discover the economics principle lying beneath billions of things in the world.

Worth a try, bros n sis! Jul 14, Toe rated it really liked it Shelves: Objective Summary Frank is a Cornell economics professor. In this book, he explores economic principles by compiling questions and answers from his students. The questions are, at first glance, a paradox, or at least an interesting mystery. For example, why are soda cans cylindrical while milk cartons tend to be square or rectangular?

The questions are then analyzed through the lens of economics, and a rational explanation is proffered. The fol Objective Summary Frank is a Cornell economics professor. The following are some of the principles illustrated in this book. Braille is on the buttons of drive-thru ATMs because the cost of manufacturing two different machines with and without braille and also tracking which type was in each drive-thru or walk-up location is more than the cost of having just one type of machine.

Also, blind passengers may access ATMs.

The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas

The cost of stocking wedding dresses in the sizes and styles brides may want makes it cheaper for brides to purchase their unique dresses. Product design is a weighing or trade off of costs against benefits. Heaters in cars, engine sizes and efficiencies, transmissions, the shape of milk containers and soda cans are the consequence of production costs and benefits consumers demand.

Refrigeration space is expensive in grocery stores, so milk containers are more square and rectangular because those shapes can more efficiently fill the available space. By contrast, soda is not refrigerated, so they take on cylindrical shapes that are easier for consumers to hold. Sometimes historical inertia raises the cost of switching to more efficient alternatives. Supply and demand a. The law of one price says the price of goods tends to coalesce. The more competitive the market, the less discrimination. Producers will continue to benefit from sales as long as the price covers their marginal costs.

Average sales price must be greater than average cost for the firm to stay in business in the long-run. Prices tend towards market equilibrium. Salaries and work a.

The Economic Naturalist

Costs are not just monetary. Restaurants sometimes give free soda refills to entice more patrons to the restaurant. Business travelers are less price sensitive than leisure travelers, so airlines can charge the former more than the latter. Prices and discounts tend to align with consumer preferences. For example, hotel minibars, free wifi, and discount theatre tickets provide both expensive options and less expensive options to those willing to jump through additional hurdles or inconveniences, like waiting in line. Arms race and tragedy of the commons a. What is good for the individual may not be good for the group.

This is common when an action or characteristic is beneficial in comparison to a competitor, but not in isolation or absolute terms. Each country has an incentive to pollute because other countries will do the same, and they can spread the costs of their action to others. Other examples include whaling and beluga caviar. Hunters have incentive to harvest as much as they can before someone else does. Myth of ownership a. Generally, property rights lead to prosperity because they encourage investment. Sometimes it is economically efficient to violate property rights.

Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest had property rights for trappers, but those on the Great Plains did not have property rights for buffalo. Lawyers dress better than college professors because lawyers need to signal success to their clients in a way that college professors do not need to signal success to their peers. The performance of companies and employees likewise tends to regress to the mean. Hit the road international differences a.

Movie seats in Korea are reserved because shows tend to sell out due to greater population densities and more expensive land upon which theatres must sit.

The economic naturalist : why economics explains almost everything (Book, ) []

Reserving seats eliminates the need for queueing. Unemployment benefits in Europe are more generous than in the U. Consequently, Europe has higher unemployment rates. Consumers, who suffer diffuse costs, do not have incentives to lobby politicians to eliminate the tariffs. Europe has smaller, more fuel-efficient cars because of higher gasoline taxes. Psychology meets economics behavioral economics a.

They make cognitive errors by relying on wrong information or making faulty inferences. People work with imperfect information. People use the availability heuristic to remember events that happen more frequently. People are susceptible to anchoring even if the given number is unrelated. For example, the people who randomly select a higher number from 1 to tend to guess a higher number when asked how many African nations are in the UN.

Informal market for personal relationships a. People are marrying later because the cost of earlier marriage in terms of reduced education and career prospects are higher. Women tend to want a man who is financial successful, while men tend to want a woman who is physically attractive. Attractiveness and intelligence may be correlated because of point c. Marriage commitments allow both parties to plan for the future, just like lease contracts, by foreclosing future potential options. Here, I dog-eared more than usual. The structure of the book works well by weaving interesting information into fun, short puzzles.

The chapters take on a game-like quality as I tried to anticipate the explanations for the questions presented. Economics is a means of analyzing and understanding the world around us. It is baked into the very core of our being. Darwinian evolution, for example, is a story of competition for scarcity: Properly understood, economics is the Rosetta Stone of reality.

So why not embrace it? It says you should take an action if and only if the extra benefit from taking it is greater than the extra cost. It is therefore advantageous for taxis to be as visible as possible.

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Research has shown that bright yellow is the best color for this purpose. Red was once thought the most visible color, which is why fire engines used to be painted red. But many fire departments have now begun painting their engines yellow. But, as in the past, when competitors adopt the same technologies, the long-run savings will be captured not by producers in the form of higher profits but by consumers in the form of lower prices. Women in the United States, for example, spend more than twice as much on clothing each year as men do, and the difference is even more pronounced in other countries.

If the average price per unit sold were less than average cost, they would suffer losses. But it will often be advantageous for producers to sell some of their output at prices less than average cost. In the restaurant industry, as in many other industries, average cost per customer served declines with the number of customers served. This means that the average cost of the meals a restaurant serves is higher than the marginal cost of a meal. Because the price a restaurant charges for each meal must be greater than the marginal cost of that meal, any restaurant can increase its profit whenever it can attract additional customers.

In contrast, societies that lack such systems seldom become wealthy. If people cannot establish clear legal title to property, they have little incentive to invest in the capital equipment that generates new wealth. In practice, however, we are often woefully ill informed, even when confronting important decisions.

Why Economics Explains Almost Everything. Economics doesn't just happen in classrooms or international banks. It is everywhere and influences everything we do and see, from the cinema screen to the streets. It can even explain some of life's most intriguing enigmas. For years, economist Robert Frank has been encouraging his students to use economics to explain the strange situations they encounter in everyday life, from peculiar product design to the vagaries of sex appeal. Now he shares the most intriguing - and bizarre - questions and the economic principles that answer them to reveal why many of the most puzzling parts of everyday life actually make perfect economic sense.