Preface by Simon W. Bowmaker
Edited by Simon W. Bowmaker
Preface Simon W. Bowmaker This book applies microeconomics to social issues. From drugs to divorce, pornography to prostitution, sport to suicide, and religion to rock ’n’ roll, we show that economics can reach into the strangest of places and shed light onto the occasionally dark side of human nature. Most importantly, we establish that with every issue of society the economist has a right to speak, and can do so usefully. The idea to put together this book originated at the University of Edinburgh, where I ﬁrst taught in 1999. I quickly discovered that students have a surprisingly healthy appetite for a diet of sex, drugs and economics. My experiences in the United States, including spells lecturing at Florida State University and the State University of New York, Buﬀalo, convinced me that they (and their instructors) would appreciate such a volume. However, I am also aware from discussions with wider social contacts that people are interested in the issues we cover, but are still in search of an analytical framework for clarifying their opinions and decision-making. The chapters that follow will be of great value to these individuals. To motivate the various topics, our starting point is a conversation with Gary Becker, the economist who has pioneered the application of microeconomics to whole areas of life that conventional wisdom may deem either inappropriate or inaccessible. I sought his views on a broad range of contemporary social issues, including drug legalization, same-sex marriage, capital punishment and suicide bombing. We then...