100 books like Economic Lives

By Viviana A. Zelizer,

Here are 100 books that Economic Lives fans have personally recommended if you like Economic Lives. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage

Meir Statman Author Of A Wealth of Well-Being: A Holistic Approach to Behavioral Finance

From my list on combining financial well-being and life well-being.

Why am I passionate about this?

Life well-being has many domains beyond finances, including family, friends, health, work, education, religion, and more. I know that financial well-being is necessary for life well being but it is not sufficient. Our older daughter lives with bipolar illness. Our life well-being was decimated years ago when my daughter’s illness was diagnosed. But we’ve learned to alleviate well-being injuries in one domain from well-being medicine from the same domain and from other domains. Our younger daughter loves her sister and cares for her, and our ample finances domain lets us support our older daughter without constraining our own budget. 

Meir's book list on combining financial well-being and life well-being

Meir Statman Why did Meir love this book?

Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas’ book helped me understand the financial and life well-being of the poor as it compares the marriage and childrearing norms among them to those of the elite.

Elite mothers raise their children as “hothouse plants” and measure their success by their children’s educational and career accomplishments. Poor mothers raise their children as “field plants,” expected to grow naturally, expecting few educational and career accomplishments.

Poor women know that marriage is fragile, and so they make their primary emotional investments in their relationships with their children. A poor mother of a four-year-old son described him as her heart. She’ll have her son even if her marriage goes sour. She’ll say to her husband, ‘You leave! This boy is mine.’”

By Kathryn J. Edin, Maria Kefalas,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Promises I Can Keep as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Millie Acevedo bore her first child before the age of 16 and dropped out of high school to care for her newborn. Now 27, she is the unmarried mother of three and is raising her kids in one of Philadelphia's poorest neighborhoods. Would she and her children be better off if she had waited to have them and had married their father first? Why do so many poor American youth like Millie continue to have children before they can afford to take care of them? Over a span of five years, sociologists Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas talked in-depth with…


Book cover of Uneasy Street: The Anxieties of Affluence

Meir Statman Author Of A Wealth of Well-Being: A Holistic Approach to Behavioral Finance

From my list on combining financial well-being and life well-being.

Why am I passionate about this?

Life well-being has many domains beyond finances, including family, friends, health, work, education, religion, and more. I know that financial well-being is necessary for life well being but it is not sufficient. Our older daughter lives with bipolar illness. Our life well-being was decimated years ago when my daughter’s illness was diagnosed. But we’ve learned to alleviate well-being injuries in one domain from well-being medicine from the same domain and from other domains. Our younger daughter loves her sister and cares for her, and our ample finances domain lets us support our older daughter without constraining our own budget. 

Meir's book list on combining financial well-being and life well-being

Meir Statman Why did Meir love this book?

Rachel Sherman’s book let me peek into the lives of people much richer than me, people whose annual income is in the millions and whose wealth is many multiples of their income.

They enjoy high financial well-being, yet many suffer diminished life well-being because they compare themselves to those even richer. One wealthy woman said that she does not feel wealthy because she knows many wealthier people with drivers and private planes. 

By Rachel Sherman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Uneasy Street as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A surprising and revealing look at how today's elite view their wealth and place in society

From TV's "real housewives" to The Wolf of Wall Street, our popular culture portrays the wealthy as materialistic and entitled. But what do we really know about those who live on "easy street"? In this penetrating book, Rachel Sherman draws on rare in-depth interviews that she conducted with fifty affluent New Yorkers-from hedge fund financiers and artists to stay-at-home mothers-to examine their lifestyle choices and understanding of privilege. Sherman upends images of wealthy people as invested only in accruing social advantages for themselves and…


Book cover of Race at the Top: Asian Americans and Whites in Pursuit of the American Dream in Suburban Schools

Meir Statman Author Of A Wealth of Well-Being: A Holistic Approach to Behavioral Finance

From my list on combining financial well-being and life well-being.

Why am I passionate about this?

Life well-being has many domains beyond finances, including family, friends, health, work, education, religion, and more. I know that financial well-being is necessary for life well being but it is not sufficient. Our older daughter lives with bipolar illness. Our life well-being was decimated years ago when my daughter’s illness was diagnosed. But we’ve learned to alleviate well-being injuries in one domain from well-being medicine from the same domain and from other domains. Our younger daughter loves her sister and cares for her, and our ample finances domain lets us support our older daughter without constraining our own budget. 

Meir's book list on combining financial well-being and life well-being

Meir Statman Why did Meir love this book?

Natasha Warikoo’s book made me understand why so many people in my Silicon Valley neighborhood drive their children so hard to get into Ivy League and other prestigious colleges.

Graduating from prestigious colleges adds little financial well-being over graduating from less prestigious colleges, but it adds much life well-being in high social status. In the past, white upper-middle-class and wealthy families were almost always successful in placing their children into prestigious colleges, but in the last few decades, their children encountered competition from children of families who immigrated from China and India.

A white woman said that her children are very bright and very motivated but feel like average students because there were so many children of Chinese and Indian families who are even brighter and more motivated.

By Natasha Warikoo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Race at the Top as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An illuminating, in-depth look at competition in diverse suburban high schools, where parents are often determined to ensure that their children remain at the head of the class.

The American suburb conjures an image of picturesque privilege: manicured lawns, quiet streets, and-most important to parents-high-quality schools. These elite enclaves are also historically white, allowing many white Americans to safeguard their privileges by using public schools to help their children enter top colleges. That's changing, however, as Asian professionals increasingly move into wealthy suburban areas to give their kids that same leg up for their college applications and future careers.

As…


Book cover of Cut Adrift: Families in Insecure Times

Meir Statman Author Of A Wealth of Well-Being: A Holistic Approach to Behavioral Finance

From my list on combining financial well-being and life well-being.

Why am I passionate about this?

Life well-being has many domains beyond finances, including family, friends, health, work, education, religion, and more. I know that financial well-being is necessary for life well being but it is not sufficient. Our older daughter lives with bipolar illness. Our life well-being was decimated years ago when my daughter’s illness was diagnosed. But we’ve learned to alleviate well-being injuries in one domain from well-being medicine from the same domain and from other domains. Our younger daughter loves her sister and cares for her, and our ample finances domain lets us support our older daughter without constraining our own budget. 

Meir's book list on combining financial well-being and life well-being

Meir Statman Why did Meir love this book?

Members of the elite are different from the members of the working class in terms of college degrees and high incomes. I am a member of the elite. Marianne Cooper’s book helped me understand the lives of members of the working class as it places their financial and life well-being next to those of the elite.

Family is central to the life well-being of the working class. A working-class woman described her grandmother to her children as a woman who worked hard her whole life, and when she was old, she lived with her daughter and got a small amount of money from Social Security. But she would give the grandkids little amounts of money and say, “Here’s a little bit of Gran to take with you.”

In contrast, Cooper quotes the sad words of a child in an elite family whose father, a college graduate, earns high income as…

By Marianne Cooper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cut Adrift as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cut Adrift makes an important and original contribution to the national conversation about inequality and risk in American society. Set against the backdrop of rising economic insecurity and rolled-up safety nets, Marianne Cooper's probing analysis explores what keeps Americans up at night. Through poignant case studies, she reveals what families are concerned about, how they manage their anxiety, whose job it is to worry, and how social class shapes all of these dynamics, including what is even worth worrying about in the first place. This powerful study is packed with intriguing discoveries ranging from the surprising anxieties of the rich…


Book cover of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Martin Sternstein Author Of Barron's AP Statistics

From my list on statistical insights into social issues.

Why am I passionate about this?

I taught for 45 years at Ithaca College broken by two years as Fulbright Professor in West Africa at the University of Liberia. During my years in academia, I developed several new courses including a popular “Math in Africa” class and the first U.S. course for college credit in chess theory. I’ve always had a passion for and continue to have strong interests in (1) national educational and social issues concerning equal access to math education for all and (2) teaching others about the power of mathematics and statistics to help one more deeply understand social issues.

Martin's book list on statistical insights into social issues

Martin Sternstein Why did Martin love this book?

Steven Levitt, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, has written a thoughtful book at the layperson level to help one understand how mathematical and economic tools provide insights into sensitive social issues from racism to abortion.

He delves into predicting the long-term consequences of short-term decisions. This book is not intended for the college classroom, and it is controversial, but I found it to be a fascinating read.

By Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Freakonomics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The legendary bestseller that made millions look at the world in a radically different way returns in a new edition, now including an exclusive discussion between the authors and bestselling professor of psychology Angela Duckworth.

Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? Which should be feared more: snakes or french fries? Why do sumo wrestlers cheat? In this groundbreaking book, leading economist Steven Levitt—Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and winner of the American Economic Association’s John Bates Clark medal for the economist under 40 who has made the greatest contribution to the discipline—reveals that…


Book cover of It's Not You, It's the Dishes: How to Minimize Conflict and Maximize Happiness in Your Relationship

Emily Guy Birken Author Of Making Social Security Work for You: Advice, Strategies, and Timelines That Can Maximize Your Benefits

From my list on changing the way you look at money.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was about 8, I remember taking all the money out of my piggy bank, counting it, and carefully putting it back in again. My sister called me Ms. Moneybags. But I wasn’t worried about accumulating money. I was fascinated by money’s pure potential. I could do anything with it! From that early interest in the potential of money, I grew to be an avid reader of financial books–and that led to a surprise career as a money writer. I still love to think about money’s potential and the best ways to allocate that potential, and I love to bring my readers with me on the fascinating journey.

Emily's book list on changing the way you look at money

Emily Guy Birken Why did Emily love this book?

Szuchman and Anderson use the framework of economics principles to look at marital relationships. Though the book was written as more of a self-help marriage guide, it’s an excellent introductory primer to many economic theories. 

Every chapter introduces and defines an economic theory–including moral hazard, comparative advantage, loss aversion, supply and demand, and incentives. Then the authors profile a married couple in crisis and describe how the economic theory fits the marital problem.

It’s a fascinating way of narrowing the larger issues of how to allocate scarce resources into the domestic sphere. I found applying economic theories to married couple fights helped me better understand economics as a whole, and the ways I make decisions in every part of my life.

Additionally, this book can be laugh-out-loud funny.

By Paula Szuchman, Jenny Anderson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked It's Not You, It's the Dishes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Your marriage is fine, right? Sure, there are showdowns over who unloads more dishes, and some simmering discontent over who drives more car pools, cleans more dust bunnies, and keeps the social wheels of your existence greased. The sex is good, though you can’t remember when you last had it. Come to think of it, you’re plagued by a nagging sense that marriage used to be so much more fun. Marriage can be a mysterious, often irrational business. But the key, propose Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson in this incomparable and engaging book, is to think like an economist. We…


Book cover of Understanding the Culture of Markets

Erwin Dekker Author Of The Viennese Students of Civilization: The Meaning and Context of Austrian Economics Reconsidered

From my list on cultural knowledge to understand the economy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and economist who is fascinated by the intersection of the economy and culture. This started for me with the idea that economic ideas were shaped by the cultural context in which they emerged, which resulted in my book on the Viennese Students. Over time it has expanded to an interest for the markets for the arts from music to the visual arts, as well as the way in which culture and morality influence economic dynamism. Economics and the humanities are frequently believed to be at odds with each other, but I hope to inspire a meaningful conversation between them.

Erwin's book list on cultural knowledge to understand the economy

Erwin Dekker Why did Erwin love this book?

Mainstream economic accounts of culture are prone to treat culture as a set of norms or informal institutions which constrain economic behavior: ‘don’t charge interest,’ ‘don’t sell kidneys,’ or ‘always tip at a bar’. Storr presents an alternative account of culture as the animating spirit of an economy, which he illustrates through various entrepreneurial spirits which shape the direction of an economy. This book is the perfect combination of serious anthropological theory (Geertz) and an appreciation of the market process. Culture is not that which obstructs market, but that what brings economies to life. 

By Virgil Storr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Understanding the Culture of Markets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How does culture impact economic life? Is culture like a ball and chain that actors must lug around as they pursue their material interests? Or, is culture like a tool-kit from which entrepreneurs can draw resources to aid them in their efforts? Or, is being immersed in a culture like wearing a pair of blinders? Or, is culture like wearing a pair of glasses with tinted lenses? Understanding the Culture of Markets explores how culture shapes economic activity and describes how social scientists (especially economists) should incorporate considerations of culture into their analysis.

Although most social scientists recognize that culture…


Book cover of Super Freakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance

John A. List Author Of The Voltage Effect: How to Make Good Ideas Great and Great Ideas Scale

From my list on changing the world and/or yourself.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion is using field experiments to explore economic questions. Since the early 1990s I have generated more than 200 papers published in academic journals using the world as my lab. That’s what we do as academics. The problem is that locked away in these journals is an enormous amount of wisdom and insights that can not only help the realm of academia, but also change the world as we know it. The brilliant authors of these books unlock the ideas and knowledge found in the academic papers that are full of jargon and math, aimed towards a narrow audience, and put them in language aimed towards the masses where real change can be implemented.  

John's book list on changing the world and/or yourself

John A. List Why did John love this book?

We all loved Freakonomics. The incredible Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt did it again in their second book Super Freakonomics.

Thinking like an economist is a powerful tool. What might surprise you are the motley assortment of questions that you can think about from the perspective of an economist.

This book is bold, funny, and insightful. And what’s the underlying theme? Well, it’s one thing all economists can agree on – incentives matter. Dubner and Levitt are masterful storytellers and teachers.

Even if you aren’t interested in thinking like an economist, their perspective on topics covered is worth the read. 

By Steven D Levitt, Stephen J Dubner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Super Freakonomics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The international bestselling Freakquel to Levitt and Dubner's Freakonomics, this book sees them looking deeper, questioning harder and uncovering even more hidden truths about our world, from global cooling to patriotic prostitutes, drunk walking to why suicide bombers should buy life insurance.

'Mind-blowing' Wall Street Journal

'Page-turning, politically incorrect and ever-so-slightly intoxicating, like a large swig of tequila' The Times

'Like Freakonomics but better ... you are guaranteed a good time' Financial Times

'Great fun ... Levitt is a master at drawing counter-intuitive conclusions' Sunday Times

'Studded with intriguing examples' Daily Telegraph


Book cover of The Ascent of Market Efficiency: Finance That Cannot Be Proven

Emily Erikson Author Of Trade and Nation: How Companies and Politics Reshaped Economic Thought

From my list on economic theory by non-economists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by systems of thought and very interested in understanding how we can improve our ability to create a better society for all. I think the past makes a good laboratory for investigating these kinds of questions. I got interested in early modern economic theory while researching the English East India Company for my dissertation in the sociology department of Columbia University, which was a great place for historical and computational sociology. I now teach economic sociology and theory as a professor at Yale University, another institution with amazing strengths in history, data science, and computational methods.

Emily's book list on economic theory by non-economists

Emily Erikson Why did Emily love this book?

This is a serious scholarly investigation of the origin and eventual triumph of the efficient market hypothesis. Polillo is very smart and the theoretical sophistication high. It combines a thorough history with some extremely interesting ideas about thought, culture, and social processes fleshed out with several different methods of analysis and interpretation.

By Simone Polillo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ascent of Market Efficiency as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Ascent of Market Efficiency weaves together historical narrative and quantitative bibliometric data to detail the path financial economists took in order to form one of the central theories of financial economics-the influential efficient-market hypothesis-which states that the behavior of financial markets is unpredictable.

As the notorious quip goes, a blindfolded monkey would do better than a group of experts in selecting a portfolio of securities, simply by throwing darts at the financial pages of a newspaper. How did such a hypothesis come to be so influential in the field of financial economics? How did financial economists turn a lack…


Book cover of Economic Fables

Eyal Zamir and Barak Medina Author Of Law, Economics, and Morality

From my list on ethics and economics.

Why are we passionate about this?

We are law professors at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Eyal Zamir is interested in the intersections of law, economics, ethics, and psychology. In addition to theoretical studies of these issues, he engages in experimental legal studies, as well. Barak Medina studies constitutional law, human rights, and economic analysis of law. He is interested in constitutional interpretation and the interaction between common-sense morality, public opinion and adjudication.

Eyal's book list on ethics and economics

Eyal Zamir and Barak Medina Why did Eyal love this book?

One of the world’s leading microeconomic scholars presents in this fascinating book brilliant insights about economic theory and its role in public policy.

Rubinstein challenges several central tenets of game theory, and sheds light on the role economics can and should play in society at large. The book presents economic theory through a series of fables.

The stories provide the basic insights of economics, but also enables us to critically evaluate the effect of implicit assumptions on the predictive power of economic theory and its moral implications.

By Ariel Rubinstein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Economic Fables as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I had the good fortune to grow up in a wonderful area of Jerusalem, surrounded by a diverse range of people: Rabbi Meizel, the communist Sala Marcel, my widowed Aunt Hannah, and the intellectual Yaacovson. As far as I'm concerned, the opinion of such people is just as authoritative for making social and economic decisions as the opinion of an expert using a model." Part memoir, part crash-course in economic theory, this deeply engaging book by one of the world's foremost economists looks at economic ideas through a personal lens. Together with an introduction to some of the central concepts…


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