Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist

Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist

by Tyler Cowen
     
 

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Read Tyler Cowen's posts on the Penguin Blog.

In Discover Your Inner Economist one of America’s most respected economists presents a quirky, incisive romp through everyday life that reveals how you can turn economic reasoning to your advantage—often when you least expect it to be relevant.

Like no other economist, Tyler Cowen shows how

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Overview

Read Tyler Cowen's posts on the Penguin Blog.

In Discover Your Inner Economist one of America’s most respected economists presents a quirky, incisive romp through everyday life that reveals how you can turn economic reasoning to your advantage—often when you least expect it to be relevant.

Like no other economist, Tyler Cowen shows how economic notions—such as incentives, signals, and markets—apply far more widely than merely to the decisions of social planners, governments, and big business. What does economic theory say about ordering from a menu? Or attracting the right mate? Or controlling people who talk too much in meetings? Or dealing with your dentist? With a wryly amusing voice, in chapters such as “How to Control the World, The Basics” and “How to Control the World, Knowing When to Stop” Cowen reveals the hidden economic patterns behind everyday situations so you can get more of what you really want.

Readers will also gain less selfish insights into how to be a good partner, neighbor and even citizen of the world. For instance, what is the best way to give to charity? The chapter title “How to Save the World—More Christmas Presents Won’t Help” makes a point that is every bit as personal as it is global.

Incentives are at the core of an economic approach to the world, but they don’t just come in cash. In fact, money can be a disincentive. Cowen shows why, for example, it doesn’t work to pay your kids to do the dishes. Other kinds of incentives—like making sure family members know they will be admired if they respect you—can work. Another non- monetary incentive? Try having everyone stand up in your next meeting if you don’t want anyone to drone on. Deeply felt incentives like pride in one’s work or a passing smile from a loved one, can be the most powerful of all, even while they operate alongside more mundane rewards such as money and free food.

Discover Your Inner Economist is an introduction to the science of economics that shows it to be built on notions that are already within all of us. While the implications of those ideas lead to Cowen’s often counterintuitive advice, their wisdom is presented in ordinary examples taken from home life, work life, and even vacation life… How do you get a good guide in a Moroccan bazaar?

Read Tyler Cowen's posts on the Penguin Blog.

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Editorial Reviews

Stephen J. Dubner
Fast, furious, and fun, with great examples of how to apply economic thinking to nontraditional subjects. (Stephen J. Dubner, coauthor of Freakonomics)
Washington Post
Engaging [and] useful.
James Surowiecki
[An] economist who's a wonderfully entertaining writer but also a deeply humane thinker...will...show you how thinking better can actually help you live better. (James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds)
Publishers Weekly

Perhaps mindful that the procession of Freakonomics-inspired pop-economics books is becoming a blur, blogger Cowen aims to not "hit the reader over the head with economic principles." Indeed, in his chatty disquisitions, economics often recedes into near invisibility. Few readers will hold it against this charming guide on how "to get more of the good stuff in life." An engaging narrator, Cowen offers idiosyncratic strategies for appreciating museum art, for building "family trust and cooperation," for writing a personal ad, for reading "classic novels that seem boring on first inspection," for surviving torture, for properly practicing self-deception and for most effectively giving to beggars in Calcutta. In the book's most passionate and practical chapter, on food, Cowen explains how, with planning and tactics, we can "eat much better meals" at home and in restaurants, here and abroad. Throughout the book, the author's advice is less counterintuitive than simply surprising (he argues that "the committed foodie should look to regions where some people are very rich and others are very poor"). Even if you don't agree with all of Cowen's cheerfully offered opinions, it's a pleasure to accompany him through his various interests and obsessions. At the least, you'll pick up some useful tips for what to order at upscale restaurants. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Cowen, an economist and monthly columnist for the New York Times,attempts to follow the lead of Steven Levitt's superb Freakonomicsand bring economic principles to everyday life-or so the book's promotional material claims. Unfortunately, Cowen deviates quite a bit from economics. While he makes some interesting observations, he spends far too much time preaching and making quips. Among Cowen's better insights is that the purchase of kidnapping insurance in Latin America has normalized the kidnapping trade because kidnappers and the insurance companies have developed mutual trust and a solid working relationship. The book's problem is that there are few such nuggets. Instead, Cowen goes overboard in giving advice, drawn from his own experiences, on diverse subjects such as how to order food in a restaurant, please a spouse, and dress for success. Do readers really want restaurant and personal advice from an economist? Cowen fails to deliver what the book advertises. A marginal purchase only for larger public libraries.
—Lawrence R. Maxted

From the Publisher
"Charming, smart and very, very creative. And it will change your life in the best way: in small steps." —Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780525950257
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/02/2007
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.26(w) x 9.26(h) x 0.99(d)
Age Range:
18 - 14 Years

What People are saying about this

James Surowiecki
Tyler Cowen is a rare bird: an economist who's a wonderfully entertaining writer but also a deeply humane thinker. Discover Your Inner Economist will certainly change the way you think about an array of subjects, ranging from ethnic food to marriage to our never-ending quest for novelty. But even more important, it'll give you a sense of the real possibilities the world has to offer, and show you how thinking better can actually help you live better. (James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds)
Tim Harford
Tyler Cowen is an economist, culture vulture, restaurant critic and the best blogger in the world. All roles are on display in Discover Your Inner Economist. It's charming, smart and very, very creative. And it will change your life in the best way: in small steps. (Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist, columnist and editorial writer for The Financial Times)
From the Publisher
"Charming, smart and very, very creative. And it will change your life in the best way: in small steps." —-Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist
Stephen Dubner
The book is fast, furious, and fun, with great examples of how to apply economic thinking to nontraditional subjects... (Stephen Dubner at Freakonomics)

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Meet the Author

Tyler Cowen is a professor of economics at George Mason University. He is a prominent blogger at marginalrevolution.com, the world’s leading economics blog. He also writes regularly for The New York Times, and has written for Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and The Wilson Quarterly.

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