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Economics Uncut

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Economics Uncut

A Complete Guide to Life, Death and Misadventure

Simon W. Bowmaker

Edited by Simon W. Bowmaker, Clinical Associate Professor of Economics, New York University, US

2005 488 pp Hardback 978 1 84376 362 8
2005 Paperback 978 1 84542 580 7
ebook isbn 978 1 84542 798 6

Hardback £116.00 on-line price £104.40

Paperback £36.00 on-line price £28.80


Available as an eBook for subscribing libraries on Elgaronline.

For individuals at paper price on Google ebooks and

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‘If you thought you could hide your secrets from the prying eyes of economists, think again. From sex to drugs to gambling to crime, this book will show you how the tools of economics can be used to understand just about any human behavior. This book will assuredly be the unofficial economist’s guide to vice for the foreseeable future.’
– Steven Levitt, University of Chicago and author of Freakonomics

Contents: Preface Bend it Like Becker Introduction by David D. Friedman Part I: Sins and Needles 1. Economics of Drug Addiction 2. Economics of Drug Prohibition 3. Economics of Drug Liberalization Part II: Guns and Roses 4. Economics of Crime 5. Economics of Marriage and Divorce Part III: Body and Soul 6. Economics of Pornography 7. Economics of Prostitution 8. Economics of Suicide 9. Economics of Religion Part IV: Conception and Rejection 10. Economics of Assisted Reproduction 11. Economics of Abortion Part V: Fun and Games 12. Economics of Sport 13. Economics of Gambling 14. Economics of Rock ‘n’ Roll Index Contributors: B.L. Benson, S.W. Bowmaker, S. Cameron, L. Friedberg, D.D. Friedman, J. Goddard, F. Heiland, R.D. Johnson, L.H. Kahane, S.A. Kossoudji, J.A. Miron, P.G. Moffatt, R.J. Phillips, R. Simmons, P.J. Sloane, S.N. Stern, R.J. Stonebraker, M. Thornton

Further information

‘Economics Uncut: A Complete Guide to Life, Death and Misadventure, edited by Simon Bowmaker, contains several delightful chapters on topics central to economics and the family. Although the book’s implicit thesis is to dazzle with the catholicity of economics, the chapters on marriage and divorce, reproduction, suicide, and abortion are lively introductions to these family topics, and other chapters make delightful reading on their own.’
– Darius Conger, ‘Economics and the American Family: A Review of Recent Literature’, Choice

‘This volume collects a wide array of economic explanations of social issues that are often thought to be beyond the realm of economic explanation. . . . This work will be valuable reading for general readers and undergraduate students. Graduate students in social sciences other than economics will find accessible economic explanations of many issues in their fields. Highly recommended.’
– R.B. Emmett, Choice

‘Expertly compiled and deftly edited by Simon W. Bowmaker Economics Uncut: A Complete Guide to Life, Death and Misadventure features informed and informative essays and seminal articles by eighteen accomplished economists on a variety of economic issues. . . A superbly organized and presented compendium of seminal studies and commentaries adhering to high academic standards of methodology and reporting, Economics Uncut is an important and strongly recommended addition to academic library Economic Studies reference collection, as well as being quite accessible to the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the economic implications and impacts with respect to the social issues of the present day.’
– Library Bookwatch/Internet Bookwatch

‘The book’s variety of subject matter, combined with its innovative yet academic approach, makes it both entertaining as well as thought-provoking.’
– Emma Winberg, Economic Affairs

‘Economics Uncut presents itself as a “complete guide to Life, Death and Misadventure”. Whatever the specific chapter topic, from pornography to crime, from suicide to assisted reproduction, cost–benefit analyses abound, demand and supply relations are discussed in an attempt to rationalize consumer preferences, choice and price levels and, thus, complex relationships are neatly reduced to mathematical equations, with tables and graphs being plentiful.’
– Werner Bonefeld, Journal of Contemporary European Studies

‘If you thought you could hide your secrets from the prying eyes of economists, think again. From sex to drugs to gambling to crime, this book will show you how the tools of economics can be used to understand just about any human behavior. This book will assuredly be the unofficial economist’s guide to vice for the foreseeable future.’
– Steven Levitt, University of Chicago and author of Freakonomics

‘In this insightful and entertaining book, Simon Bowmaker introduces readers to the fascinating side of modern economics that applies economic analysis to a wide range of social issues from illegal drugs to religion and everything in between. In this form, economics is anything but the dismal science. This is a fun and enlightening book that shows readers what many economists often forget – that economics is a powerful tool for understanding the world around them.’
– Kevin M. Murphy, University of Chicago, US

‘Economics is generally associated with the financial pages of newspapers apart from front page discussion of major topics such as inflation, budget deficits, or unemployment. However, the topics discussed in many of the other pages of a typical newspaper, such as crime, divorce, or sport, are also appropriate for economic analysis. Economics is concerned with decisions and many important topics in today’s society involve taking drugs or committing a crime or getting a divorce, for example, and so can be examined from an economic point of view. Many of these areas can be considered from different directions: legal, medical, political, religious, sociological, or psychological, for example, and economics and be added to this list. No single viewpoint can be considered the dominant one, in most cases, but together a deeper understanding of the area will result. This book provides deep and stimulating discussions of a dozen or more important and interesting areas in accounts prepared by economic experts. It illustrates how what has been called the "dismal science" can be applied widely and usefully.’
– The late Sir Clive W.J. Granger, University of California, San Diego, US and 2003 Nobel Laureate in Economics.

‘Sex, drugs, suicide, murder, football – instead of a “dismal science”, this book makes economics seem popular, or rather notorious. A rational analysis of these topics contains something to offend everyone. You may not agree with these papers but they will challenge you to think more deeply.’
– Robert Cooter, University of California, Berkeley, US

‘Economics is not about forecasting interest rates, but about how we live our daily lives. Simon Bowmaker’s wide-ranging analysis illustrates how fruitful and unexpected that approach can be.’
– John Kay, St John’s College, Oxford and London School of Economics, UK

‘Economics is most useful - and most provocative – when the spotlight of its intellectual rigour is trained on social issues. This book demonstrates how economists think about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. This is an illuminating approach to subjects usually obscured by woolly thinking and conventional platitudes. It should be compulsory reading for anybody devising or legislating public policy.’
– Diane Coyle, author of Sex, Drugs, and Economics and Paradoxes of Prosperity

‘This wonderful new volume . . . educates and provokes its readers by using the rational actor model to explain seemingly pathological human behavior like suicide, drug addiction, and prostitution.’
– David Laibson, Harvard University, US

‘This is an important book that showcases the strength of economics for understanding human behavior and provides a convincing case for why economics should be reckoned as the social science. The chapter on prostitution provides the most comprehensive discussion of the topic to date.’
– Lena Edlund, Columbia University, US

‘Those who think economics has little to say about the real world will change their minds after reading the essays in this splendid collection. Well written and authoritative, they show how the economic way of thinking can shed light on an unexpectedly diverse range of issues.’
– Robert H. Frank, Cornell University, US

‘Who said that academic economists need to get out more? This book certainly shatters the illusion that economic analysis has little to say on topics of everyday interest.’
– Evan Davis, Economics Editor, BBC, UK

‘Sex, drugs, rock and roll and so, so much more – there is enough here to persuade even the deepest skeptic of the analytical power and breadth of economics. The material is presented with careful attention to the evolution of economic ideas, as well as state-of-the art economic theory and empirical analysis. Many strands of economic thought are represented. Any class would be enriched by examples drawn from this expansive collection.’
– Alan B. Krueger, Princeton University, US

‘This exciting book shows that economics can explain a dizzying array of real world phenomena and that economics can be great fun. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to see the progress that has been made in using the tools of neoclassical economics to understand a wide range of seemingly irrational behavior.’
– Edward Glaeser, Harvard University, US

‘For students who care about how the world works, microeconomics should be one of the most relevant and exciting subjects they study. Yet many students view microeconomics as some kind of abstract theory, and fail to understand how it relates to the real-world decisions made by firms, consumers, and governments. It is therefore essential that students be shown detailed examples of the application of microeconomics to practical problems – studying the theory alone is simply not enough. This outstanding book provides those examples, and would make a perfect supplementary text for any intermediate microeconomics course. The topics and examples covered are extremely timely and interesting, and are explained with great clarity. Instructors take note: Students will find this book fascinating, and reading it will give them a much deeper understanding and appreciation of microeconomics.’
– Robert S. Pindyck, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US

‘Economics recently has developed an imperialistic policy. Economists now write on many, many things which were not included in the traditional economic curriculum. This book is an example, but the reader may think that it should have been included in the traditional curriculum. All the activities analyzed have economic implications and the study is a good example of applying economics in new areas. The reader may be a bit shocked by applying economics to such things as prostitution, but I think he will conclude that economics has something to say and that practical people trying to organize government controls in many areas would gain by reading this book.’
– Gordon Tullock, George Mason University, US

‘Who would not be curious to know what economics can tell us about drugs, crime, sex, religion and sports? So read this book – it demonstrates convincingly how much standard economics provides us with great new insights.’
– Bruno S. Frey, University of Zurich, Switzerland

‘Economics is all around us, and this terrific collection highlights the role of economic forces even in domains where the reader may not expect it. As a collection, the book’s chapters make the case forcefully that economic incentives are embedded in all domains of life, and that even sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll are amenable to economic analysis. A collection that showcases modern economics as the lively discipline it is. It would hard to be a student and not be excited by the possibilities.’
– Justin Wolfers, University of Pennsylvania, US

‘This fascinating book shows that economics can be used to understand almost every aspect of human behavior: the consumption of addictive goods, divorce, pornography, sports, religion, suicide, criminal behavior, abortion, and rock ‘n’ roll. The conventional wisdom is that these behaviors should be studied by sociologists and psychologists. Simon Bowmaker and his collaborators demonstrate the fallacy of this proposition with great insight and clarity. Their analysis is provocative, penetrating, profound, and always entertaining. The reader is quite likely to conclude that there is only one social science. All in all a most remarkable book. Bravo!’
– Michael Grossman, City University of New York Graduate Center, US

This highly innovative and intriguing book applies principles of microeconomics to unusual settings to inspire students, teachers and scholars alike in the ‘dismal science’. Leading experts show how economics reaches into the strangest of places and throws light onto the occasionally dark side of human nature.

‘Sins and Needles’ examines the economics of drug addiction, prohibition and liberalization; ‘Guns and Roses’ looks at the contribution economists can make to understanding crime as well as marriage and divorce; ‘Body and Soul’ investigates the economics of pornography, prostitution, suicide and religion; ‘Conception and Rejection’ explores the controversial economics of assisted reproduction and abortion; and ‘Fun and Games’ considers the economics of sport, gambling and music.

Not only does Economics Uncut illustrate how economics can be used to promote our understanding of a broad range of human behaviour, but it also draws upon research conducted in other disciplines from the social sciences. As such, this fascinating and highly accessible book will be of great interest to academics, students and researchers in economics, criminology, sociology, and psychology alike

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