The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World

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Random House Publishing Group, Jan 15, 2008 - Business & Economics - 272 pages
Life sometimes seems illogical. Individuals do strange things: take drugs, have unprotected sex, mug each other. Love seems irrational, and so does divorce. On a larger scale, life seems no fairer or easier to fathom: Why do some neighborhoods thrive and others become ghettos? Why is racism so persistent? Why is your idiot boss paid a fortune for sitting behind a mahogany altar? Thorny questions–and you might be surprised to hear the answers coming from an economist.

But Tim Harford, award-winning journalist and author of the bestseller The Undercover Economist, likes to spring surprises. In this deftly reasoned book, Harford argues that life is logical after all. Under the surface of everyday insanity, hidden incentives are at work, and Harford shows these incentives emerging in the most unlikely places.

Using tools ranging from animal experiments to supercomputer simulations, an ambitious new breed of economist is trying to unlock the secrets of society. The Logic of Life is the first book to map out the astonishing insights and frustrating blind spots of this new economics in a way that anyone can enjoy.

The Logic of Life presents an X-ray image of human life, stripping away the surface to show us a picture that is revealing, enthralling, and sometimes disturbing. The stories that emerge are not about data or equations but about people: the athlete who survived a shocking murder attempt, the computer geek who beat the hard-bitten poker pros, the economist who defied Henry Kissinger and faked an invasion of Berlin, the king who tried to buy off a revolution.
Once you’ve read this quotable and addictive book, life will never look the same again.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jimocracy - LibraryThing

This was a very fascinating book that looks at many facets of human history from an economist's point of view. I always appreciate the social scientific side of economics than the financial one. The author did a great job keeping the reader engaged and interested. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - vguy - LibraryThing

Revealing surprising, optimistic, well-argued, and funny. Cities are the centres of creativity & wealth (no surprise) but also of efficiency, ecological efficiency and tax revenue. How minorities (eg ... Read full review

Contents

O N E INTRODUCING THE LOGIC OF LIFE
3
TWO LAS VEGAS
32
F OUR WHY YOUR BOSS IS OVERPAID
88
FIVE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
130
S EVEN THE WORLD IS SPIKY
149
El GHT RATIONAL REVOLUTIONS
174
N IN E A MILLION YEARS OF LOGIC
193
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
215
NDEX
245
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Tim Harford is the author of the bestseller The Undercover Economist and The Logic of Life and a member of the editorial board of the Financial Times, where he also writes the “Dear Economist” column. He is a regular contributor to Slate, Forbes, and NPR’s Marketplace. He was the host of the BBC TV series Trust Me, I’m an Economist and now presents the BBC series More or Less. Harford has been an economist at the World Bank and an economics tutor at Oxford University. He lives in London with his wife and two daughters.

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