The Economics of Life Essay

This is a book which was written in collaboration of a Nobel laureate winner for economics and his wife. The couple collected essays which first appeared in Business Week magazine. They have used these essays to show to the popular audience how market incentives influence human behavior in many ways which may be termed as countless.  The author has criticized racial quotas, central planning and trade tariffs as well as endorsed privatized social security, school vouchers and drug legalization. He has also veered into unexpected terrain, addressing sports, religion and marriage with keen incite. Mr. Becker ranges widely across the current scene with a keen interest in examining government taxation, spending, gun control and even religion and sports. (Becker G. , 1998)

The book is made of short column length essays. These are the essays that Becker had published during his career as an economic contributor to Business Week magazine. The book is easy an easy to understand introduction to the principles of economics usage to solve problems that are there in our day to day lives that are related to economics. As one compare this book with his other books one would say that they are similar in topics but with an analysis that is more rigorous. This book is also an introduction to other topics which can be approached from a standpoint that is more rigorous. The author’s curious mind touches on so many issues such as affirmative action, immigration, taxation and spending of the government and many others that would benefit from an economic approach that is more rigorous. (Becker G. , 1997)

The problem that the essays that have been collected in order to form the book from the business week magazine which are supposed to be solidly implanted in current events does not have dates and therefore the reader is left guessing the dates which the contents were written.  Sometimes one is left to wonder whether he or she lives in the same land as the author because for instance in page 214 the author makes the statement that ‘…longer congressional service is also part of a general trend in the united states and other modern economies for worker to remain in the same job’ in support of his opposition to term limits.  (Boele-Woelki, 2003 )

Gary Becker the author of this book has the credentials to be able to bring economics to the masses because he is a Nobel Prize winner in the field and positions at Hoover Institution which is one of the most influential think tanks as well as the economics powerhouse of the University of Chicago. With the help of his wife Gary Becker was able to apply principles and concepts of economics to a wide range of problems which we face everyday. He has helped to give an informative look at how economics applies to wide range of issues above and beyond the strictly monetary. The author was a forerunner in this area applying the economic theory to discrimination back when other economists were financial figures and projections and nothing more. (Frängsmyr, 1992)

The problem with this book is that it not dated and this makes it truly dull as earlier mentioned. The brilliance of Becker in the field of economics does not match the dryness that he articulates in this book.  Even though the book may be considered as good supplemental text to micro economics it is a dry reading. Though there are other readers who does not consider this text by Becker as a dry reading and they rather define it as interesting because of the over hundred essays that are used to complete it. They term the essay as the pillars which bring life to text and therefore the book as a whole is entertaining as compared to standard textbooks. (Becker G. , 1998)

This books despite its dryness is recommend by others to people who want o understand policy issues because it is about the easiest way to feel for microeconomics of Chicago. The controversial nature of this book has drawn fire and it will continually do so. Personally I do admit that Chicago price theory has limits as it has its useful relevance and applications. I would recommend that everybody to read this book first and foremost then judge its merits later. (Frängsmyr, 1992)

The book even though there time that it contradicts for instance page 47 contradicts with page 39 and you wonder which page was written before the other, it is a high quality book which is also straight forward thus making it easy to understand basic economics as well as apply economic principles and theory to daily life. The content and the length of the book are consistently well and also the analysis that is in the book is vey insightful. The book has also sparked the vast amount of more recent books which are of the same fashion such as Freidman’s Hidden order, Harford’s Undercover economist, Leavitt’s Freakonomics Recommended or Landburg’s Armchair economist. (Becker G. , 1997)

This book by Gary Becker with the help of his wife as a whole can be said that it brings the economic theories down tom earth. The book can also be given the credit that it is easy to read because it is broken down into short parts and it makes a good supplementary reading for principles of economics class. The book is therefore a great read even if it can be termed as outdated. This is because it carries lots of articles which are potent from a man who mastered bringing economics to the masses. The book even if it is described by many as a good read leaves one wishing that Gary Becker, the author should have gone into details with his arguments other than being a collection of many articles.  (Becker G. , 1998)

The topics that the author has described in his book are wide ranging but the problem is that they are based on few assumptions such as each person can decide what is good for them independent of social influences and family and that individual’s behavior is rational. These assumptions can be said to be overtly simplistic and in fact both later economists and social scientists have questioned such kind of assumptions. (Boele-Woelki, 2003 )

In conclusion, despite the many criticisms the book has received from various grounds it is good read and helps the reader to see how economics can be applied top the real world.

Becker, G. (1998, January 1). The Economics of Life. Retrieved May 14, 2009, from

Becker, G. (1998). The Economics of Life: From Baseball to Immigration to Affirmative Action, How Real-World Issues Affect Our Life . New York: McGraw-Hill.

Becker, G. (1997, September 7). The Enonomics of Discrimination. Retrieved May 14, 2009, from

Boele-Woelki, K. (2003 ). Harmonisation and Unification of family law Perspectives in Europe. U.S.A: Intersentia.

Frängsmyr, T. (1992, August 12). Autobiography. Retrieved May 14, 2009, from