Behavioral Economics For Dummies

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A guide to the study of how and why you really make financial decisions

While classical economics is based on the notion that people act with rational self-interest, many key money decisions—like splurging on an expensive watch—can seem far from rational. The field of behavioral economics sheds light on the many subtle and not-so-subtle factors that contribute to our financial and purchasing choices. And in Behavioral Economics For Dummies, readers will learn how social and psychological factors, such as instinctual behavior patterns, social pressure, and mental framing, can dramatically affect our day-to-day decision-making and financial choices.

Based on psychology and rooted in real-world examples, Behavioral Economics For Dummies offers the sort of insights designed to help investors avoid impulsive mistakes, companies understand the mechanisms behind individual choices, and governments and nonprofits make public decisions.

  • A friendly introduction to the study of how and why people really make financial decisions
  • The author is a professor of behavioral and institutional economics at Victoria University

An essential component to improving your financial decision-making (and even to understanding current events), Behavioral Economics For Dummies is important for just about anyone who has a bank account and is interested in why—and when—they spend money.

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About the author

Morris Altman, PhD, is a professor of behavioral economics at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand and a professor of economics at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. He is on the board of the Society for the Advancement of Behavioral Economics and is a former president of that organization. He also edited the Handbook of Contemporary Behavioral Economics.
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Additional Information

Publisher
John Wiley & Sons
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Published on
Mar 5, 2012
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Pages
384
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ISBN
9781118089712
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economics / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Morris Altman
Some of the fundamental tenets of conventional economic wisdom, which have had a profound impact on public policy, are challenged in this book. These precepts include the affirmation that low wages are more beneficial that high wages to the process of growth and development; convergence in terms of output per person is just a matter of time; minimum wage laws and trade unions negatively impact on the economy as a whole; pay inequality due to labor market discrimination cannot persist over time; larger firms are typically more efficient than smaller firms; and culture is of little consequence to the course of economic development. Such predictions, the author argues, are a product of unrealistic behavioral assumptions about the economic agent.
In this book, the author offers a more inclusive theoretical framework and a more reasonable modeling of the economic agent. This new approach is built upon conventional neoclassical theory while incorporating the most recent research in behavioral economics. The case is made that individuals have some choice over the quantity and quality of effort which they can supply in the process of production. Even under the constraints of severe product market competition and the assumption of `utility maximizing' individuals, effort need not be maximized, especially in firms characterized by antagonistic management-labor relations. This is especially true when relatively inefficient firms can remain competitive by keeping wages relatively low - low wages serve to protect such firms from more efficient firms. Alternatively, relatively high wage firms can remain competitive only if they become more productive. Under these assumptions, higher wages and factors contributing to higher wages can advance the performance of an economy while lower wages can have the opposite effect and cultural and institutional variables, by themselves, can affect the long run productivity and even the long run competitiveness of firms and economies.
In summary, this book calls for a revised approach to the study of economics from a behavioral and socio-economic perspective, with significant consequences for public policy.
Morris Altman
Some of the fundamental tenets of conventional economic wisdom, which have had a profound impact on public policy, are challenged in this book. These precepts include the affirmation that low wages are more beneficial that high wages to the process of growth and development; convergence in terms of output per person is just a matter of time; minimum wage laws and trade unions negatively impact on the economy as a whole; pay inequality due to labor market discrimination cannot persist over time; larger firms are typically more efficient than smaller firms; and culture is of little consequence to the course of economic development. Such predictions, the author argues, are a product of unrealistic behavioral assumptions about the economic agent.
In this book, the author offers a more inclusive theoretical framework and a more reasonable modeling of the economic agent. This new approach is built upon conventional neoclassical theory while incorporating the most recent research in behavioral economics. The case is made that individuals have some choice over the quantity and quality of effort which they can supply in the process of production. Even under the constraints of severe product market competition and the assumption of `utility maximizing' individuals, effort need not be maximized, especially in firms characterized by antagonistic management-labor relations. This is especially true when relatively inefficient firms can remain competitive by keeping wages relatively low - low wages serve to protect such firms from more efficient firms. Alternatively, relatively high wage firms can remain competitive only if they become more productive. Under these assumptions, higher wages and factors contributing to higher wages can advance the performance of an economy while lower wages can have the opposite effect and cultural and institutional variables, by themselves, can affect the long run productivity and even the long run competitiveness of firms and economies.
In summary, this book calls for a revised approach to the study of economics from a behavioral and socio-economic perspective, with significant consequences for public policy.
Morris Altman
This book provides a theoretical framework to better understand how firms, economies and labor markets have evolved. This is done in a reader-friendly fashion, without complex mathematical arguments and proofs. Economic Growth and the High Wage Economy shows how high wage economies help make firms and economies more productive and why high wage economies can be competitive even in an increasingly globalized environment. It also demonstrates why concerns that labor supply will dry up as wages increase and social benefits rise are largely based on impoverished economic reasoning.

The first chapters provide a theoretical basis for the rest of the book, showing for instance how higher wages are prone to increasing the level of economic efficiency by getting people to work harder and smarter (mainly smarter). Altman also explains that our understanding of technological change can be markedly improved by modelling technological change as a product of higher wages and improved working conditions and other shocks to the economic system. As the book develops, it is shown that increasing and high levels of income inequality are not necessary for growth and development, because the economic ‘pie’ grows when the economic wellbeing of the lower half and even the middle improves. The evolution of the state can also be better understood by applying this analytical framework. So too can the persistence of inefficient systems of production and cultural traits that appear to be inconsistent with economic prosperity. On top of this, the book examines the implications of Altman’s theoretical framework for macroeconomic analysis and policy. Finally, it is shown that labor supply can be better understood by introducing target income into the analytical mix.

The main contribution of this book is providing the theoretical underpinning for why relatively high wages and, moreover, competition with high wages is good for dynamic growth and development. This work establishes why an alternative model of labor supply, based on the notion and reality of target income, does a better job of explaining the evolution of labor supply. The latter also reinforces the view that increasing wage and workers’ benefits should not be expected to damage the economy, even in the realm of labor supply. This book will be of interest to public policy experts, trade unions, human rights experts and scholars of behavioural economics, labour economics and globalization.

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