Can you recommend a good intro book? I’m thinking about The Cartoon Introduction to Economics; the kid in question has a high level of comprehension and adores the graphic novel format.
We meander into lots of random conversations that touch on economics–I’m not the one who starts them! I don’t have a solid handle on the subject myself, so would most likely read the book too. So far we’ve discussed supply and demand, inflation, opportunity cost, auctions, externalities…
The kid is almost 9 but a bit of an outlier. Middle school reading level is probably the sweet spot, I’m guessing…ze reads Smithsonian but not the New Yorker? I’m not so great at describing the level. Not up to algebra yet but probably will be in another year.
I have to admit that this question stumped me, and also any of my colleagues whom I’ve asked since getting it. We’ve never really thought about econ and kids. That’s not to say that people don’t– I know children of famous economists whose parents liked to do “studies” and play “games”, setting up elaborate exchanges at Christmas time involving trading unwrapped presents from Santa, for example. Oddly, those children all became physicists.
We usually think of introducing economics sometime after algebra. For adults I generally recommend Bob Frank’s Microeconomics and Behavior and Jon Gruber’s Public Finance and Public Policy. These are both “reality-based” texts– Frank focuses on the difference between how people *should* act given economic theory and how they actually *do* act. I feel like Gruber’s should be required reading because it explains that yes, there is a (limited) role for government and when and why and how and what are the consequences. They’re both pretty good reads, IMO.
Age here is important because a lot of light economics reading tends to talk about sex. I don’t know if we’re an over-sexed profession or we’re just not used to kids or what. So Freakanomics (which I don’t like anyway) is definitely out. The Worldly Philosophers, another popular read, discusses economist infidelities, such as Marx impregnating his housekeeper when his wife was sick.
Now, if you were just interested in “popular” economics like the stock market or the affordable care act, there’s probably more out there on those topics that’s safe and doesn’t require higher-level math. My father used to have us track Exxon and we learned about things like stock splits and so on. Jon Gruber has a comic book on the ACA that’s a good read. But you’re actually interested in hard-core economics, and kudos for that.
Do you all have any better recommendations for Monica?