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Review: The Economic Approach to Human Behavior

SFLRN

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Published in 1976, Gary Becker's seminal The Economic Approach to Human Behavior would greatly expand the scope of economic analysis into non-market behavior. Becker would go on to win the Nobel Prize in Economics for the work contained in this book.
Level of Difficulty: The book is fairly difficult to fully understand at times, especially some of the math involved. More than anything, each chapter probably requires a second reading (as well as a careful reading of the math beyond Becker's assertions) for a reader to grasp Becker's full meaning. Individuals who have at least some background in Microeconomic concepts (marginal utility, marginal product, etc.) and have taken calculus 1 (or more importantly understand the importance of rate of change in economics) should be able to understand the work.
Insights: The book will literally knock you on your ass with its insights into human behavior (provided you can understand how Becker builds his case). Especially interesting is Becker's economic analysis of crime (which of course has spawned a whole slew of articles using economic analysis on crime).
List of Analyzed Topics: Discrimination, Competition and Democracy, Crime, Time and Household production, "Irrational behavior," Marriage, Fertility and the Family, and Social interactions.
Put simply, there are few books in economics I could more highly recommend than Becker's The Economic Approach to Human Behavior.
 

LawyerGirl

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It sounds as though this book contains some very interesting perspectives on the economy that hadn't been presented before. I am no economist so it would likely be a difficult read for me as well but I might give it a shot and read each chapter 2x like you said. I have good math skills so hopefully that won't be a huge obstacle.
 
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