- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Rev Ed edition (27 Oct. 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393329461
- ISBN-13: 978-0393329469
- Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2 x 21.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 263,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Micromotives and Macrobehavior (Fels Lectures on Public Policy Analysis) Paperback – 27 Oct 2006
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Schelling's [book] transformed the way many economists think about the relationship between competition and social welfare.--Robert H. Frank
Originally published over twenty-five years ago, "Micromotives and Macrobehavior" still feels fresh today. And the subject of these stories - how small and seemingly meaningless decisions and actions by individuals often lead to significant unintended consequences for a large group - is more important than ever. In one famous example, Thomas C. Schelling shows that a slight-but-not-malicious preference to have neighbours of the same race eventually leads to completely segregated populations. The updated edition contains a new preface and the author's Nobel Prize acceptance speech.See all Product description
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Another major theme is social sorting, like how do neighbourhoods of blacks and whites form into clusters. Schelling's segregation model is now quite famous and I'd suggest you give it a look on-line for starters to get the basic picture of the book.
Many examples are mentioned as to how our choices affect the demographics that interest us or how we sometimes fulfill our own "prophecies".
I give it 4 stars, because it wasn't "pop" enough for me. The algebra was mild (and supposedly basic?), but I still couldn't do it, because I don't know s*** about algebra. Other than that, once you get the gist of reading the graphs on the last chapter, you'll start feeling like a genius.
It's easy to read and it can be fun experimenting around with the models/graphs on your own.
This is a book that shifts your perspective for good. You'll start thinking differently when you're watching groups of people cluster together now (e.g.: surfers vs swimmers at the beach).
What is more interesting are Schelling's numerous examples and asides about human behavior that, once examined carefully, yield a greater understanding about everyday phenomena. For example, he writes, "Most people think that inflation reduces purchasing power without stopping to notice that their own pay increases are somebody else's inflation, and at least some of it must cancel out." This book is filled with such astute and not easily apparent statements. He also carries economic theory into social theory, showing that if all men married women four years younger than them where population is growing at three percent annually, eventually women of marrying age may outnumber men by more than 12%. The book has several of these nuggets, but leaves out an obvious and one of my favorite lessons about education: when a student goes to school, s/he not only "loses" the money s/he spends on tuition, but also her/his earning power during the years spent studying. For this reason, one could argue that it seems more sensical to attend school when there is a recession and to work when unemployment is low.
The glaring gap in this book is the problem of freeloaders--what do we do, for example, about the neighbor who waters his lawn excessively during a water shortage, thereby creating less incentive for others to conserve water? The author most likely believes that education will assist this problem, but this may be an idealistic notion at best. Still, Schelling manages to prove that cooperation rather than competition in some cases may produce better results, leading to viable arguments against selfish behavior.