Accounting For Tastes / Edition 1

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Overview


Economists generally accept as a given the old adage that there's no accounting for tastes. Nobel Laureate Gary Becker disagrees, and in this lively new collection he confronts the problem of preferences and values: how they are formed and how they affect our behavior. He argues that past experiences and social influences form two basic capital stocks: personal and social. He then applies these concepts to assessing the effects of advertising, the power of peer pressure, the nature of addiction, and the function of habits. This framework promises to illuminate many other realms of social life previously considered off-limits by economists.
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Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement

[Becker's] achievement has been to create an elegant structure, internally consistent and based on reasonable assumptions, and to use it to generate many testable propositions about how people grapple with the complexities of personal choice...[He] has helped to liberate economics from a straitjacket of oversimplification and narrowness of view.
— David Throsby

Wall Street Journal

Gary Becker has used his regular economics column in Business Week to communicate economic truths in plain English and to apply them to the issues of the day...[In this] collection of scholarly essays, Becker applies technically sophisticated economic arguments to work habits, parental altruism and other matters.
— David R. Henderson

Journal of Consumer Affairs

The formation of preferences or tastes and the role tastes play in consumer behavior provide the underlying themes of Accounting for Tastes. Becker's goal in explaining this role is to extend the assumption that individuals behave in ways that maximize utility based on preferences independent of past and future behaviors...Becker's work shows that economic theory can be fruitfully applied to a wide range of questions in the social sciences. He has extended the borders of economics by applying an economic approach to the analysis of a number of questions considered by some to be primarily within the domain of social sciences other than economics...[Accounting for Tastes] is thought provoking.
— Peggy S. Berger

Times Literary Supplement - David Throsby
[Becker's] achievement has been to create an elegant structure, internally consistent and based on reasonable assumptions, and to use it to generate many testable propositions about how people grapple with the complexities of personal choice...[He] has helped to liberate economics from a straitjacket of oversimplification and narrowness of view.
Wall Street Journal - David R. Henderson
Gary Becker has used his regular economics column in Business Week to communicate economic truths in plain English and to apply them to the issues of the day...[In this] collection of scholarly essays, Becker applies technically sophisticated economic arguments to work habits, parental altruism and other matters.
Journal of Consumer Affairs - Peggy S. Berger
The formation of preferences or tastes and the role tastes play in consumer behavior provide the underlying themes of Accounting for Tastes. Becker's goal in explaining this role is to extend the assumption that individuals behave in ways that maximize utility based on preferences independent of past and future behaviors...Becker's work shows that economic theory can be fruitfully applied to a wide range of questions in the social sciences. He has extended the borders of economics by applying an economic approach to the analysis of a number of questions considered by some to be primarily within the domain of social sciences other than economics...[Accounting for Tastes] is thought provoking.
Wall Street Journal
Gary Becker has used his regular economics column in Business Week to communicate economic truths in plain English and to apply them to the issues of the day...[In this] collection of scholarly essays, Becker applies technically sophisticated economic arguments to work habits, parental altruism and other matters.
— David R. Henderson
Times Literary Supplement
[Becker's] achievement has been to create an elegant structure, internally consistent and based on reasonable assumptions, and to use it to generate many testable propositions about how people grapple with the complexities of personal choice...[He] has helped to liberate economics from a straitjacket of oversimplification and narrowness of view.
— David Throsby
Journal of Consumer Affairs
The formation of preferences or tastes and the role tastes play in consumer behavior provide the underlying themes of Accounting for Tastes. Becker's goal in explaining this role is to extend the assumption that individuals behave in ways that maximize utility based on preferences independent of past and future behaviors...Becker's work shows that economic theory can be fruitfully applied to a wide range of questions in the social sciences. He has extended the borders of economics by applying an economic approach to the analysis of a number of questions considered by some to be primarily within the domain of social sciences other than economics...[Accounting for Tastes] is thought provoking.
— Peggy S. Berger
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674543577
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/30/1998
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 954,775
  • Product dimensions: 0.59 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary S. Becker is University Professor of Economics and Sociology at the University of Chicago. In 1992, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.
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Table of Contents


  1. Part I: Personal Capital
  2. 1. Preferences and Values
  3. De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum
  4. A Theory of Rational Addiction
  5. Rational Addiction and the Effect of Price on Consumption
  6. An Empirical Analysis of Cigarette Addiction
  7. Habits, Addictions, and Traditions

  8. Part 2: Social Capital
  9. The Economic Way of Looking at Life
  10. A Theory of Social Interactions
  11. A Note on Restaurant Pricing and Other Examples of Social Influences on Price
  12. A Simple Theory of Advertising as a Good or Bad
  13. Norms and the Formation of Preferences
  14. Spouses and Beggars: Love and Sympathy

  • Acknowledgments
  • References
  • Index

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