Posted by: Dirk | February 28, 2008

(Book review) Economics – A Very Short Introduction

Partha Dasgupta has published a new book in the Short Introductions series of OUP. 160 tiny pages, that must have been an ambitious target. Dasgupta is an economist with an international reputation, so the choice of OUP is quite logical. Dasgupta takes a problem-oriented approach in this little book. The main theme are two girls, Becky in the US and Desta in Ethiopia. Their lives are very different, and it is these differences that Dasgupta focuses on. Why are some people rich and some poor? This is the main question in the background throughout the whole book. Dasgupta focuses on institutions a lot and the chapters are fitted to that line of argument rather than into the traditional macro/micro, theory/empirics divide. Hence some economist’s might complain that the first chapter, Macroeconomic history, is too short and does not include what one would expect there (central banks, exchange and interest rates, Keynes and Friedman). However, this is an introduction to Economics, and a short one, too. I think it’s fair enough to guide the user through different topics that are of interest today and where economists have something to say. The last chapters are named Sustainable economic development and Social well-being and democratic government. The book is certainly more exciting than the average Econ 101 lecture. It is no substitute for it, as the title already makes clear. For non-economists, it is a good book to get to know ‘us’. Recommended.

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