The Economic Naturalist

For anyone teaching an introductory economics course, I can highly recommend complementing a standard textbook with a few exercises from Robert Frank’s The Economic Naturalist. Frank’s notion of economics is as a set of tools that helps us better understand problems in everyday life (eg. Why do drive-through ATMs have braile keypads? Why do milk cartons have square bottoms and soft drink containers have round ones? Why are hotels cheaper at the last minute and airline tickets more expensive?). I’m not sure I would be confident structuring a whole course around these kinds of questions (as Frank does), but a little bit of economic naturalism certainly seemed to help leaven the lectures.

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