If humans are so clever, why do we smoke and gamble, or take drugs, or fall in love? Is this really rational behaviour? And how come your idiot boss is so overpaid? In fact, the behaviour of even the unlikeliest of individuals - prostitutes, drug addicts, racists and revolutionaries - complies with economic logic, taking into account future costs and benefits, even if we don't quite realise it. We are rational beings after all.
This is the new economics of everything you never thought was economics, and it will help you see the world in a new way.
''Truly eye-opening ...There is almost no situation that Harford cannot dissect with his sharp economist's tools ...economics has never been this cool' New Statesman
'The chapter "Why is Your Boss Overpaid?" is in itself worth the price of this book' - Sunday Telegraph
'This is no minor thesis ... If you loved [The Tipping Point and Freakonomics] you'll love this' - Financial Times
“[Tim] Harford sets off on an enormously entertaining yarn backed by the findings of expert economists. He spins playfully, but smartly, across matters of sex, crime, gambling, addiction, marriage, racism, ghettos and politics, and he makes it all, well, titillating at times. Really.”
“[Harford] is an amiable guide for the non-specialist reader . . . but his command of the subject is such that even a well-schooled economist will discover much that is new.” –The Economist
'Harford (The Undercover Economist) provides an entertaining and provocative look at the logic behind the seemingly irrational. Arguing that rational behavior is more widespread than most people expect, Harford uses economic principles to draw forth the rational elements of gambling, the teenage oral sex craze, crime and other supposedly illogical behaviors to illustrate his larger point. Utilizing John von Neumann and Thomas Schelling's conceptions of game theory, Harford applies their approach to a multitude of arenas, including marriage, the workplace and racism. Contrarily, he also shows that individual rational behavior doesn't always lead to socially desired outcomes. Harford concludes with how to apply this thinking on an even bigger scale, showing how rational behavior shapes cities, politics and the entire history of human civilization. Well-written with highly engaging stories and examples, this book will be of great interest to Freakonomics and Blink fans as well as anyone interested in the psychology of human behavior.' Publishers Weekly
'In Harford's hand, the dismal science of economics becomes cool' The Times
“Harford has a knack for explaining economic principles and problems in plain language and, even better, for making them fun.” –The New York Times
“Like Harford’s earlier book, The Undercover Economist–if you haven’t got it, get it–this book uses the basic theory of rational choice to make transparent the logic behind common but important puzzling phenomena. Even a trained economist can enjoy discovering what he didn’t realize he already knew. I did.” –Thomas C. Schelling, 2005 Nobel Laureate in Economics
Tim Harford writes the 'Dear Economist' column for the FT Saturday magazine. An award winning public speaker, Tim has been an economist for a major oil company and an economics tutor at Oxford University.