Comprehensiveness rating: 5 read less
The textbook overall is very comprehensive, it covers all the areas of study and concepts that are typically covered in a Principles of Microeconomics course. The amount of information included in this book is impressive and some of the chapters actually have more information than a typical textbook of this level. There are also chapters that are not necessarily covered in this type of class (mostly due to time constraints), however they are well presented in general and quite a great resource for instructors and students who want to include more and relevant material in their coursework.
As with any other textbook there are also a few minor shortcomings. Some of the chapters can be a little longer than anticipated, which could have a distracting side effect on students. For example the introductory chapter does a good job of going over a lot of the topics that will be covered, but it feels as if it goes into too many details right from the beginning. It also talks about a few Macroeconomics issues that won’t be part of the textbook as it goes along, so it feels more of an introductory chapter to a Principles of Economics book.
Another example is the presentation of the budget constraint, which appears in the same chapter as the presentation of the production possibilities frontier (to reflect choice for consumers versus choice for society) and then appears again in the consumer choice chapter. It is a more unusual way to present this topic, as typically the budget constraint and utility go together without having to refer back to another chapter. It is by no means a big problem, just an observation.
Some other less typical groupings are negative externalities and positive externalities treated in separate chapters, grouped with other concepts (environmental protectionism and public goods respectively). This particular approach could potentially be a little confusing to students, especially since the Coase Theorem is not treated in a lot of detail.
All chapters in general are well constructed. There are a few other concepts/details in some of these chapters though that miss certain aspects that one would expect to see. For example the elasticity chapter does not cover the details of elasticity along a demand curve. The oligopoly chapter does not have a detailed preliminary discussion on game theory and its elements before presenting actual game setups. Also, the monopoly chapter does not go into a lot of detail on the inefficiency and deadweight loss that results from a monopoly. There is also no discussion on price discrimination and it would have been great to see more explanatory graphs in here. There is however a separate chapter on monopoly and antitrust law and cases, which is well presented, if albeit slightly long. One last observation is related to the production side (i.e. the chapters on costs and perfect competition), which seem a little disjointed, with some aspects that we would expect to see in one chapter presented in the other.
Other chapters are particularly well done and the concepts are very nicely and clearly explained, some with unique approaches (e.g. the supply and demand chapter, the labor and financial market chapters, the more unique labor market related chapter concentrated on unions, immigration, discrimination, the international trade and globalization chapters, the asymmetric information and risk chapter, the poverty and inequality chapter and the public economy chapter).
There are also three Appendices included with this book, which are very useful. One covers the mathematics needed to understand all the concept explanations and applications, one covers a thorough presentation on indifference curves including a step by step explanation on income and substitution effects. The third appendix covers a presentation of present value calculation methods.
Answers to review questions are provided as well, which can be extremely useful to students for self-assessment and better understanding of concepts.
The PDF version of the book provides a comprehensive index at the end of it. The online version of the book has a glossary at the end of each of the modules from each chapter, which comes in very handy.
Accuracy rating: 4
From what I have seen, the content of the book is accurate and error free. There are a few rare typos, but nothing that would distract the reader from the material. It also does not seem to be biased even though it covers some controversial topics in a few chapters, however it is in a manner of stating facts, not choosing sides, which is the most important distinction. There could be the argument that many examples are related to the US economy, however they contribute to the relevancy of the topic discussed. All examples included are very well chosen and one of the strong points of the book.
Relevance/Longevity rating: 5
The book contains many current examples/cases/information, which is a big plus especially for a Microeconomics text that contains a lot of theory and many times it does not need frequent updates because of this reason. This book however has many examples and I think that from the way the book is structured and the manner in which these cases are included in each chapter, it would not make it too hard to keep them up to date. And it would have the added benefit that it would refresh the content and make it especially interesting to current and future students
Clarity rating: 5
Here is where this textbook excels in almost every chapter. The material is presented very clearly and in a very approachable style. There are learning goals listed at the beginning of each chapter and at the beginning of each of the subsections of said chapter as well, which is a great way to keep everything on track and make it clear to students what they should expect to know after reading that particular part of the material.
The book gives a lot of examples, uses current information and data and clarifies concepts very well in this manner. It addresses the students directly and almost has the feel of the instructor talking to the class when reading it. It contains many step-by-step explanations of concepts and graphs and clarifies even elementary notions without giving the sense of simplifying things too much.
It achieves a good level of interactivity (so to speak), because it breaks the text down in several ways. Each chapter has a “Bring it Home” example or case at the beginning and at the end of the chapter. It also contains “Work it Out” sections with solved problems relevant to the concepts presented. There are “Link it Up” sections that contain a link to a real world case or example relevant to the concept studied. And also there are “Clear it Up” sections that describe well many of the concepts that tend to be challenging to students at the beginning.
In the online version of the book, these sections are not titled in that manner, but start with a “NOTE”, which does not provide the same level of detail. The PDF version’s notation is preferable from this point of view, to keep student’s interest high.
Also each chapter contains key concept summaries at the end of it, self-check questions, review questions and critical thinking questions. All of these add to the clarity and understanding of the concepts studied.
Consistency rating: 4
The text is consistent in terms of terminology and framework, the presentation as well throughout the book with only a few exceptions that I mentioned in the comprehensiveness part of this review.
Modularity rating: 5
The way the text is separated in the sections mentioned above (in the “Clarity” part of the review) makes it very engaging and interactive for students.
This way the student has the opportunity to read the material pertaining to a specific concept, relate it to a real-world example and also try a problem that would help deepen the understanding of that concept. It also helps by not making all the material in a chapter too overwhelming to go through.
In the online version of the book, the modularity aspect is even more prevalent, because each chapter is separated in modules, each module containing a glossary, references and review questions at the end of it (whereas the PDF version has all the review questions at the end of the chapter, together with key concept reviews, self-check questions and critical thinking questions).
Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 3
Some of the chapters of this book are not organized in a typical manner. I gave a few examples of this in the comprehensiveness part of the book (e.g. the externalities chapters, the monopoly chapters, some of the production side details, consumer choice details etc.). As an instructor, it would be easy to assign them in different order to students or combine the relevant information from some of the chapters. However for students who are looking to improve their economic knowledge and use the book outside of a class structure, it might prove a little more challenging to keep some of these related chapters and concepts organized.
Interface rating: 4
There was only one issue that I encountered with the PDF version of the book. The links from the “Link it Up” section are not easily followed directly from the text (or copy/pasted in a browser). This is not an issue for the online version of the book.
Grammatical Errors rating: 5
There were only very few (very minor) errors spotted throughout the book, but nothing that would distract or keep students from using the textbook.
Cultural Relevance rating: 4
The textbook does not seem culturally insensitive or offensive, even if it covers some topics that could be considered controversial. However as I mentioned before, they are presented as facts in a relevant discussion surrounding the concepts covered, not as opinions, so it does not qualify as culturally offensive or insensitive. Many of the examples are focused on the US economy, however there are also international aspects and examples presented.
Overall, the textbook is a very pleasant surprise, with all relevant Microeconomics topics covered and in a comprehensive and clear manner. I especially like the approachable style and the structure that I think will keep students engaged and enthusiastic about the material, which is no small feat to accomplish from an introductory economics text.
Comprehensiveness rating: 5 read less
The text covers all the learning objectives required for an introductory microeconomic theory course. Examples extend the content to topics such as supply and demand in financial and labor markets, and antitrust policy. Additional chapters at the end of the text provide extensions into current topics such as poverty and inequality, unions, discrimination, and immigration. Chapters on public economics and financial markets are a nice addition for an instructor who wants to extend the typical micro theory content.
Accuracy rating: 5
I did not find any material mistakes in the text. I was pleased with how more controversial topics were presented. The books gave facts and introduced methods of analysis without betraying a bias.
Relevance/Longevity rating: 4
Examples are quite up to date. Some of the latest data in graphs were 2010 or 2012. Material in the international trade section will need to be updated by an instructor or a future edition.
Clarity rating: 4
The writing seems to be very clear and straightforward. Disciplinary specific terms are defined and placed in context but may need to be pointed out by an instructor.
Consistency rating: 5
The book is quite consistent - each chapter's layout is similar thus increasing the clarity for a student.
Modularity rating: 5
The book is broken down into short modules within chapters. Each chapter begins by placing it in the context of the course material and referring to other places in the text where it may be integrated. An instructor should have no difficulty using individual chapters.
Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 4
The books begins with production possibility frontiers, incorporating budget lines in that content, then proceeds to supply and demand analysis. Examples from labor and financial markets reinforce supply and demand analysis before proceedings to elasticity and consumer choice. The next section of the book discusses industry structure and includes antitrust policy. The text then introduces externalities in the context of environmental protection and public goods. Finally, issues such as poverty, labor market issues, information, public economics are covered. The book ends with a section on international trade and globalization.
Interface rating: 5
I reviews a print copy of the text that was professionally presented.
Grammatical Errors rating: 5
I did not observe any grammatical errors in the text.
Cultural Relevance rating: 4
Most examples in the text were from common firms or products (Amazon, the cotton industry, TSA, etc.).