This book introduces 40 critical pointers for those who wish to see the theory in a broader, more realistic context. The material is suitable for introductory and intermediate courses and can be included selectively by students for additional reading or in lectures or tutorials as discussion points. "Students of mainstream economics need a guide like this to help them understand the underlying assumptions, limitations and inbuilt biases of what they are studying. It helps them open their eyes to a broader view of how real economies work." Emeritus Professor Frank Stilwell, University of Sydney "...different approaches are required to move from Neo-classical Theory's artificial world of economics to Real Life Economics, the invitational style that Birks has used is likely to be one of the most productive ones. He enters into the students' comfort zone and takes them along pointing out the limitations of what is familiar and its inadequacies to deal seriously with policy issues." C T Kurien "This book... critiques the traditional market-focused world of economics in a systematic fashion, with copious well-chosen examples from everyday life to underscore the anomalies and weaknesses involved in the understanding of problems and seeking their solutions. ...it would be a 'good read', not just to the existing or aspiring economist, but also to those who are not particularly concerned about the state of affairs in the discipline of economics. It is refreshingly enlightening." Emeritus Professor Srikanta Chatterjee "The real benefit of the text is that it is critical about the underlying assumptions that we implicitly hide behind when we create our models. The more honest and critical we are when we teach our students then the more effective economic policy will be in the future, which surely we, as a discipline, should be striving towards. I'd recommend this book to those who don't realise the severity of the assumptions that they hide behind, to students who can use these ideas to engage in debate with each other and with their lecturers, and to honest and critical lecturers who can refer to it simply to remind themselves why they already do it the honest way. It should be mandatory for all economics departments to have at least one copy." Professor Don Webber
Economics courses have been trimmed back significantly in recent decades. Many of the reservations and qualifications that used to be presented in descriptions of theory have now been dropped, especially as the length and content of courses have been reduced. Consequently there has been a narrowing down of the discipline. The real world is ‘explained’ largely by means of models. These may give some explanation that is consistent with what is observed. However, models also give a framing of the issues such that the explanations are largely predetermined.
It is important to know the limitations of this approach. However, for many students these limitations are given scant attention. This book introduces 40 critical pointers for those who wish to see the theory in a broader, more realistic context. The material is suitable for introductory and intermediate courses and can be included selectively by students for additional reading or in lectures or tutorials as discussion points.