he submitted in response to the “economic naturalist” writing assignment in my introductory economics course. The specific assignment was “to use a principle. - Ebook download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online. The Economic Naturalist and millions of other books are available for site site. The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas Paperback – April 8, For decades, Robert Frank has been asking his economics students to pose and answer questions.

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Key words: critical thinking, economic naturalist, introductory economics out really having learned even the most important basic economic principles. For. Acknowledgements be. Introduction. 1. Rectangular Milk Cartons and Cylindrical Soft-. Drinks Cans: The Economics of Product Design. Free Peanuts and. Read Download The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas |PDF books PDF Free Download Here.

Harford wants to show that economic theory is not only useful, but "fun".

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He chooses his case studies accordingly, examining, among other things, the probabilities of winning at poker and the pronounced increase, over the past decade, in the number of US adolescents having oral sex.

Frank's book, meanwhile, is based on an assignment he gave to students taking his introductory course in economics at Cornell University.

The students were asked to pose and answer a question about observed events or behaviour, and what they came up with certainly wasn't the staple fare of Economics why did kamikaze pilots wear helmets, they asked. Why is coyness often considered an attractive attribute? Why do women endure the discomfort of high heels? All these phenomena obey what Frank calls "economic logic", the fundamental law of which is the cost-benefit principle.

This says that an action ought to be taken only when the extra benefit that accrues from taking it outweighs the extra cost. So when a woman decides to squeeze her feet into a pair of stilettos, for example, she has weighed the benefit of being "more likely to attract favourable notice", as Frank somewhat coyly puts it, against the costs of discomfort.


Now one could be forgiven for thinking that this is just a dubious bit of folk-wisdom dressed up as economic theorising; and the same could be said of many of Harford's "insights".

Yet for all the demotic breeziness of their style, both writers have a serious purpose. In Harford's case, it is to defend a version of rational choice theory, which tries to explain human behaviour in terms of the maximisation of individual preferences or "utility". On this model, which Harford thinks applies more or less universally, human beings respond to trade-offs or incentives: "When the costs and benefits of something change, people change their behaviour.

It seems like there should at least be some questions answered directly in the book, since such strong arguments are made for them. Other questions less serious but as important: Why are people so invariably stupid?

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And a serious one: How do you get people to care? Seriousness to boot -- the book does remind that government is absolutely necessary, and that the reason it is necessary is that people are ridiculously stupid. On the other serious? Apparently, the 'standard economic model' assumes that "people behave as if they were fully rational and in possession of all relevant information. Long story short, i'm more inclined to give advice that prolongs seeing the world while living on ramen noodles and delays work.

So, it seems - to me, at least - that economics is the philosophy of money, and that economics is thus not really for hippies and others who can live with a healthy disregard for money.

Unfortunately, as Frank makes apparent, not a lot of people can disregard it, equally perhaps out of need and out of greed. And that makes both economics and politics necessary.

The Return of The Economic Naturalist: How Economics Helps Make Sense of Your World

And it kind of makes my stomach hurt. I'm on to a more lighthearted book.

Why women button their clothes from the left, and men from the right? We encounter puzzles like these every day.

They're not life-threatening or planet-imperiling, but they don't make sense, not at first, anyway. The American economist, Robert H.

Frank, has devoted a book, "The Economic Naturalist," to unraveling them. His explanations for what he calls "everyday enigmas" are rooted in economic theory, but many of them also illuminate anomalies in the design of the things that fill our lives.

The issues explored in the book were suggested by the students on the introductory economics course Frank teaches at Cornell University.The fact is that adding them was costless. My economic naturalist writing assignment plays directly to this strength. Thus a product design feature should not be added unless its benefit as measured by the amount consumers are willing to pay extra for it is at least as large as its cost as measured by the extra expense that producers incur by adding it.

The value added by hiring a better-looking male model pales by comparison. Why does a light come on when you open the refrigerator but not when you open the freezer? Yet we now have persuasive evidence that most students do not master this concept in any fundamental way.

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According to the law of one price. Lonnie Fox Annual tuition payments vary within a remarkably narrow band across universities ranked among the top private institutions by the U.

Because many drivers stop work after hitting their daily fare targets, which they do faster in wet weather when more people use cabs.