Dear Undercover Economist: Priceless Advice on Money, Work, Sex, Kids, and Life's Other Challenges

Dear Undercover Economist: Priceless Advice on Money, Work, Sex, Kids, and Life's Other Challenges

Tim Harford

Language: English

Pages: 119

ISBN: 0812980107

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Throughout history, great philosophers have been answering profound questions about life. But do they know why your socks keep disappearing from the dryer, or how to choose the quickest line at the supermarket? Probably not, but Tim Harford does. . . .

In Dear Undercover Economist, the first collection of his wildly popular Financial Times columns, Tim Harford offers witty, charming, and at times caustic answers to our most pressing concerns--all through the lens of economics. Does money buy happiness? Is "the one" really out there? Can cities be greener than farms? Can you really "dress for success"? When's the best time to settle down? Harford provides brilliant, hilarious, unexpected, and wise answers to these and other questions. Arranged by topic, easy to read, and hard to put down, Dear Undercover Economist lends an outrageous, compassionate, and indispensable perspective on anything that may irk or ail you--a book well worth the investment.

From the Trade Paperback edition.





















anger and wanting to do something stupidly aggressive. My mother has less and less money to run the house. I no longer live there but will soon have to contribute money to prevent my mother from entering a downward spiral of debt. How do I control an alcoholic who is content only with a bottle in his hand? How do I solve the financial problem? How do I stop myself from becoming wound up by my stepfather’s actions? —Anonymous Dear Anonymous, Your stepfather is addicted to alcohol, but your

occasionally suboptimal, tough luck. Please note that Athey also has two children under the age of five. Yours alternately, The Undercover Economist JULY 12, 2008 Dear Economist, I am the mother of two young children, and extremely grateful to my own parents for looking after them for a few hours now and then. My problem is that they stuff the kids with chocolates, chips, and ice cream. This is not good for the children, their behavior, and my own efforts to feed them something

for a screening even though I won’t actually be there. Or I could buy a copy of the DVD when it comes out, even though I don’t really want to own it. If I cannot put this right in economic terms, my conscience tells me not to watch! —Yvonne, London, UK Dear Yvonne, You should certainly watch, since there is a positive benefit to you and zero marginal cost to the studio. Yet I believe you’re right to feel uneasy about free riding on someone else’s time and talent. It is not only unfair but

alternatives as productivity and education grow. It is not clear how dwarf-tossing contributes to better alternatives for very small men; perhaps you and your girlfriend could abandon your squabbling in favor of finding some practical solution? Yours ethically, The Undercover Economist OCTOBER 1, 2005 Dear Economist, Our local council does not collect cardboard and plastics for recycling, presumably for economic reasons. Yet in our household we have felt it our moral duty to separate

a clean car. Frankly, since you are paying him to clean an unused car, incessantly, and he isn’t doing it, any change is likely to be an improvement. Yours, baffled, The Undercover Economist DECEMBER 20, 2008 Dear Economist, Can economics help me pick out the perfect Christmas gift for my brother? —Tim Maly, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Dear Tim, Your letter obliges me to disinter the influential research of the economist Joel Waldfogel on the “deadweight loss of Christmas.” Fifteen

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