Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Skeptical Economist

Book Cover

There are certainly no shortage of books on economics coming out these days. It seems everyone is taking more of an interest in economics.

The Skeptical economist by Jonathan Aldred looks into the assumptions behind many of the economic theory and beliefs. Some of the issues raised in the book include:
  • The economics of ethics.
  • Motives of workers and consumers - behavioural economics and
  • Economics and Happiness
  • The difficulty of putting economic value on environment and nature

In Chapter one J.Aldred chooses a quote from Freakonomics
"Morality, it could be argued, represents the way that people would like the world to work - whereas economics represents how it actually does work. Economics is above all a science of measurement." (Levit and Dubner, Freakonomics)
A significant theme of the book is challenging this assumption of ethic / morality free economics.

Rather than giving importance to utilitarian principles of efficiency Aldred makes a case for looking at a wider determination of what increases economic welfare and human happiness.

I think economics needs to give greater weighting to normative judgements of how society can improve real living standards. Something that is far more important than just considering economic data.

It is quite long, and sometimes lacks the shortness and snappiness of competitors such as Freakonomics. This length probably gives chance to delve into more depth on issues, but, it will make it less likely to be bought. However, that's just my opinion as someone with little patience to read long books. ( I blame the twitter culture... - very bad I know.)
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