Marisa Bluestone

Every Decision is an Economic Decision. Acclaimed Economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers Aspire to Transform College Economics

Blog Post created by Marisa Bluestone on Oct 18, 2019

Which social media apps should you use? Should you eat one more donut? Should you get married? These are all economic decisions, and students can apply basic economic principles to make better decisions in every area of their lives.

Earlier this week, Macmillan Learning announced that textbooks written by acclaimed economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers will be available for the Fall 2020 semester. The Principles of Microeconomics and Principles of Macroeconomics titles treat every decision a person makes as an economic decision, replacing hypothetical “widgets” in economics textbooks with true-to-life examples of decisions students make so that every student can recognize situations they themselves have been in (like why they can’t find parking or how to negotiate for a better raise) and situations they will encounter (like how economic forces impact their wages and rent.) 

“Economics doesn’t have to be as complicated as many textbooks make it out to be, and many of us are making economic decisions every day whether we know it or not. In writing Principles of Economics, we focused on honing students intuition so that they see themselves as economic actors, and can apply the lessons they’re learning throughout their lives,” said Betsey Setevson. “Our goal is to reach every student.”

“If you’ve ever had the pleasure of reading one of those popular economics books that takes readers on a joyous romp through our field, you quickly understand why millions of people spend their weekends reading them. Podcast rankings and best-seller lists reveal a latent demand for an approach that supplies some of the same magic. We aim to bring that sense of delight and discovery to your introductory economics class,” said Justin Wolfers.

Beginning with the first chapter, students will use four economic principles (cost-benefit, opportunity cost, marginal and interdependence principles) to frame how they make decisions. The tangible, practical examples span from household dynamics to local or national policy to demonstrate how economic concepts play out in real life. Some examples of economic decisions they will explore are:

  • Should you stream one more episode?

  • How can a nonprofit use market forces to better feed America’s hungry?

  • What city should you move to after graduation?

  • How can the Federal Reserve Board’s decision to raise interest rates lead a mother in China to feed her children chicken instead of pork?

“This is one of the most important titles that Macmillan Learning has published. The fundamentals and practical examples that Stevenson & Wolfers deliver make economics more accessible to a wider range of students, whether or not they’re majoring in Economics. We’re also very proud to support Betsey Stevenson’s voice in what’s historically been a male-dominated field,” said Susan Winslow, General Manager of Macmillan Learning.

Economists in recent years have transformed the field so that it has greater relevance and a closer relationship to actual human behavior, with a focus on practical problems. The new Principles of Economics titles by Stevenson & Wolfers reflect that changing landscape and were created to highlight for students how economics can be useful in the ordinary business of life.

 

The books also offer a deeper and more intuitive treatment of traditional topics (demand, supply, and equilibrium) that provide a solid foundation for economic thinking that students can apply right away as they learn to analyze markets, examine policies, strategize about pricing and other decisions, and interpret economic indicators. Students will also learn how businesses, workers, and ideas compete across a range of market structures, how microfoundations underpin macroeconomic theory, how modern economists use models to understand the business cycle, and the implications for macroeconomic policy decisions.


About the Authors 

Betsey Stevenson advised President Obama on social policy, labor market, and trade issues as a member of the Council of Economic Advisers from 2013 to 2015. She is currently a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan and she serves on the Executive Committee of the American Economic Association and other boards. She is an expert on the impact of the economy on happiness, on public policies impact on the labor market, and the economic forces shaping the modern family, among other topics.

 

Justin Wolfers is a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan. He is an expert in unemployment and inflation, the power of prediction markets, the economic forces shaping the modern family, discrimination, and happiness. He has been an editor of the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, a board member on the Committee on the Status of Women in Economics, a member of the Panel of Advisors of the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, among many other board and advisory positions. 

About Macmillan Learning

Macmillan Learning is a privately-held, family-owned company that improves lives through learning. By linking research to learning practice, we develop pioneering products and learning materials for students that are highly effective and drive improved outcomes. Our engaging content is developed in partnership with the world's best authors researchers, educators, administrators, and developers. Visit macmillanlearning.com, see us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or join our Macmillan Community.

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