Microeconomics: Theory Through Applications
Russell Cooper, European University Institute
Andrew John, Melbourne Business School
Copyright Year: 2011
ISBN 13: 9781453313282
Publisher: Saylor Foundation
Conditions of Use
The text does cover the usual areas in a Principles of Microeconomics course, however, I don't see an effective index or glossary in the PDF version. It would be helpful if the table of contents included sub-sections under each chapter title. I... read more
The text does cover the usual areas in a Principles of Microeconomics course, however, I don't see an effective index or glossary in the PDF version. It would be helpful if the table of contents included sub-sections under each chapter title. I do like the concept of the "toolkit" at the end of the text as a useful resource for students. There is a large color-coded table at the top of the toolkit, but in the PDF version is appears to be cut off at the right margin.
Perhaps this is the result of converting the text to PDF, but many formulas do not display correctly. For example, in many cases, a division sign "/" is absent. In the HTML version, many formulas don't even appear (my browser is Google Chrome) and links to the toolkit, or to a figure in a different part of the book, don't work. Students often struggle with the mathematics of economics and having to correct most of the formulas would be very frustrating. I also found more content errors than I am comfortable with. For example, there is an equation on page 106 that is missing the word "real", which is a critical omission in that context. Table 4.1 appears to have missing values. Figure 6.4, and many other instances in Chapter 6, use "demand" when "quantity demand" would be more accurate. The appendix to Chapter 7 is nice, but the explanation of constants in the supply equation is actually repetition of the demand equation.
This edition of the text is already a few years old, but examples using eBay and craigslist are still relevant. There was an example of demand for Detroit Tigers merchandise that is already irrelevant to anyone but the Tigers fanbase. I like the use of real-world data, but these examples would need to be constantly updated as new data is produced.
The text is very clearly written, although there were some sections that bogged down so much that I would probably not assign them. Examples of these sections include 4.2 and 4.3 and 5.2.
The text is internally consistent, but might have areas of unnecessary duplication. For example, section 5.1 does a good job of explaining consumer and producer (although the authors call them buyer and seller) surplus concepts. And section 7.3 seems to cover much of what was covered in 5.3.
I think the subsections of chapters could be reorganized fairly easily to create smaller reading sections or to structure the course to align with an instructor's preferred outline of topics.
This text does not follow the standard pedagogical outline for a typical principles course and might deter faculty from adopting it. For example, utility maximization is the foundation for why consumers behave as they do. Diminishing marginal utility is the reason demand curves are downward sloping, yet this isn't found anywhere in the text. Section 3.1 has a nice presentation about consumer preferences, but without the inclusion of the idea of utility, it seems incomplete and disconnected to demand.
Formulas that don't display correctly, links that don't work, and the toolkit table being cut off are real problems. Also, Chapter 13 refers to Figure 13.5 but I don't think that figure is displayed anywhere in Chapter 13.
There were not major grammatical issues, though there are places (a couple of which are noted above) where there were copy and paste errors or missing words.
There were many nice examples of markets and events that give the text a more international feel than a typical economics book.
The material at the end of each chapter is a strength of the text. I really like the traditional exercises, plus the Economics Detective and Spreadsheet exercises really set it apart.
This text covers the expected topics in a microeconomics principles course in a refreshing way—by presenting problems, questions, and observations relatable to students and then introducing them to the ways economists explore them. Relative to... read more
This text covers the expected topics in a microeconomics principles course in a refreshing way—by presenting problems, questions, and observations relatable to students and then introducing them to the ways economists explore them. Relative to other introductory microeconomics texts, this one is a bit lighter on production theory and a bit richer other topics, including risk, uncertainty, the stock market, and income inequality. The text introduces budget constraints before introducing demand curves. This is done with no mention of indifference curves, but it seems the authors’ approach might still succeed in tapping into and growing students’ economic intuition. There is suitable coverage of market structures; this presentation is peppered throughout multiple chapters and reads less sequentially than texts that move systematically from discussions of perfect competition to other structures by adjusting assumptions. This text does a thoughtful job of introducing students to ways psychology and behavioral finance are influencing the discipline, and incorporates accessible summaries of peer-reviewed research. The text does not have an index or glossary, but it does use italics to introduce terminology. The last chapter is a useful “toolkit” that readers are regularly referred to throughout the text. This section reiterates and embellishes on tools introduced in one chapter and used in others.
The text is unbiased and thoughtful in explaining a range of perspectives from the discipline and even how and why economists disagree. The PDF version of the text has errors I did not see in the online version. I have experienced this with other OERs—there seem to be formatting issues with converting to a PDF that in the case of economics texts do in fact compromise the content. Specifically, equations (especially in this case those that involve division) do not display correctly. Word spacing issues are a lesser concern. One could encourage students to use the online version, but the PDF option allows more flexibility which is helpful to students with limited access to the internet. It would be nice if PDFs were more carefully edited before being posted.
This text is current and uses product examples and names many students will recognize and identify with. With that said, it should be periodically reviewed for possible updating, the level of difficulty of which will vary by chapter.
The text is accessible and clear. Some students may find it equation-heavy at times, but it is suitable for the level of the course and desired emphasis on the math can be determined by the professor and managed in class.
The text is consistent in terminology and framework.
Each chapter has several short sections. A professor could pick and choose chapters and even sections within chapters to cover. The authors’ nontraditional approach to presentation does make the text self-referential in places, but their inclusion of a toolkit lessens the challenges of this for the professor and the student.
The flow is logical, yet quite different from other principles texts.
In the online version, some links to the Toolkit don’t work.
The text is well-edited for grammar.
The text uses examples from various countries and cultures, although most country-focused examples center around the U.S. Many examples are presented with the reader as the individual facing an economic challenge or circumstance (rather than named characters).
There are several key concepts only briefly discussed in this text, which is sufficient for those who are completing a basic survey course or as a supplement to a concept based text. The examples are relevant to student decision making and... read more
There are several key concepts only briefly discussed in this text, which is sufficient for those who are completing a basic survey course or as a supplement to a concept based text. The examples are relevant to student decision making and effectively lead students to a higher understanding of life application economics. While the author ensures math concepts/vocabulary are included in the explanation, at times, it over shadows the economic concepts taught.
Economic content is accurate and vocabulary is bold and defined in the reading. Promoting a certain company is avoided by using generic terms such as "chocolate bar" or "CD". When teaching assets the author uses a basic orange tree instead of a brand specific asset.
If used as a supplement, this text would stand the test of time. The examples are generic and products discussed are mainstream. For example, a chocolate bar is not going to become obsolete and McDonalds will stay in business for future years. On the other hand, an instructor would want to double check figures used such as calculations for minimum wage in case minimum wage changes in the future.
The author intertwines the math jargon with the economic concepts. For a struggling math student, this approach may turn the student against learning economics or lead them to believe they can not learn economics. If the author first spent time explaining the psychology of the decision or the economics of the decision, students could grasp material quicker.
The text is consistent in terms of terminology and the framework. Students can easily following the pattern from one chapter to the next which allows them to focus on the learning the material instead of finding the materiaI.
Easy stopping points that encourage understanding rarely exist. For full understanding the reader needs each part of the chapter. Fortunately, most chapters are not overly long.
Some chapters should be re-titled and each author should assess the chapters they would like to use. There are gaps in the economic learning process that need to be filled for better student understanding.
Charts, graphs, and images are clear and easily understood. Not one navigation problem was discovered by this reader. This is a strength in this text.
No grammar errors were found but instructors may need to clarify some money symbols. This is not an error by the author simply a lack of knowledge for some students.
This book is very generic. I was hard pressed to find a race or ethnicity that was mentioned. In the chapters observed and read entirely, backgrounds were rarely, if ever, mentioned. Even minimum wage was discussed without descriptions of background or race.
This book would be great for those instructors who have time to read, dissect, and add to the material presented. As a whole, it has holes in the economic process learned in a Beginning microeconomics course.
The text covers all the areas and ideas of Macroeconomics that one would expect to find at the introductory level. The subjects are clear, easy to follow, relevant with applied examples. Global examples are used through the lens of US laws and... read more
The text covers all the areas and ideas of Macroeconomics that one would expect to find at the introductory level. The subjects are clear, easy to follow, relevant with applied examples. Global examples are used through the lens of US laws and economics. No index or glossary was provided with the version that was reviewed.
Text is accurate, error-free, but does have a bias towards US law and economics. Many of the case studies are global in origin, which are excellent, however, the authors always return to the effects towards the US, or if a US case study is examined there is very little mention of the effect towards the Canadian economy.
The content is up to date and should constantly be up dated to truly connect the student to the learning objectives as they effect the global economies of today. Generally the text will not become obsolete in a short period of time yet the authors will need to either update the data within the text or provide updated links to the already numerous web sites referred to within the text.
The authors use a story telling format that is easy to read and comprehend.
The text is consistent in terminology and framework. The early chapters are well setup providing foundational information for the each of the subsequent chapters. Each chapter progressively provides the learner with more challenging concepts, language, an
The text builds upon each chapter that provides effective information to the reader to continue. There are many reading sections with each followed by "Key Takeaway" statements and "Checking Your Understanding" questions. It may be difficult for those not familiar with economic concepts to not read the chapters sequentially.
Story telling format; the reader is provided with fundamental economic realities in the world using examples that are relevant to people in general. The foundational concepts are discussed before the math and graphs are introduced hence the reader has already seen the "what's in it for me" reality.
No problems were found.
None were found.
The text does not appear to be insensitive or offensive in any way. As the text is focused to US learners, students from other countries, such as Canada, may not feel that this is relevant to their history, or future.
The text is well laid out as is the content but the text should be entitled: Macroeconomics: Theory in Application from a US Perspective. Web links worked as did page reference links (there was a request to register to Flatworldknowledge.com which I did not do). The international examples are excellent for any student to use. Overall the text would be excellent if there was a considerable amount of Canadian content added. The reason for this is that while economic policies appear to be similar between Canada and the USA, the decision making is different.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: What Is Economics?
- Chapter 2: Microeconomics in Action
- Chapter 3: Everyday Decisions
- Chapter 4: Life Decisions
- Chapter 5: eBay and craigslist
- Chapter 6: Where Do Prices Come From?
- Chapter 7: Why Do Prices Change?
- Chapter 8: Growing Jobs
- Chapter 9: Making and Losing Money on Wall Street
- Chapter 10: Raising the Wage Floor
- Chapter 11: Barriers to Trade and the Underground Economy
- Chapter 12: Superstars
- Chapter 13: Cleaning Up the Air and Using Up the Oil
- Chapter 14: Busting Up Monopolies
- Chapter 15: A Healthy Economy
- Chapter 16: Cars
- Chapter 17: Microeconomics Toolkit
About the Book
Russell Cooper and Andrew John have written an economics text aimed directly at students from its very inception. You're thinking, ”Yeah, sure. I've heard that before.“
This textbook, Microeconomics: Theory Through Applications, centers around student needs and expectations through two premises: … Students are motivated to study economics if they see that it relates to their own lives. … Students learn best from an inductive approach, in which they are first confronted with a problem, and then led through the process of solving that problem.
Many books claim to present economics in a way that is digestible for students; Russell and Andrew have truly created one from scratch. This textbook will assist you in increasing students' economic literacy both by developing their aptitude for economic thinking and by presenting key insights about economics that every educated individual should know.
How? Russell and Andrew have done three things in this text to accomplish that goal:
1. Applications Ahead of Theory: They present all the theory that is standard in Principles books. But by beginning with applications, students get to learn why this theory is needed.
The authors take the kind of material that other authors put in ”applications boxes“ and place it at the heart of their book. Each chapter is built around a particular business or policy application, such as minimum wages, the stock exchange, and auctions.
Why take this approach? Traditional courses focus too much on abstract theory relative to the interests and capabilities of the average undergraduate. Students are rarely engaged and the formal theory is never integrated into the way students think about economic issues. And traditional books are organized around theoretical constructs that mean nothing to students. The authors' applications-first approach ensures that students will not see chapters with titles like ”Cost Functions“ or ”Short-Run Fluctuations“. They introduce tools and ideas as and when they are needed. Each chapter is designed with two goals. First, the application upon which the chapter is built provides a ”hook“ that gets students' attention. Second, the application is a suitable vehicle a vehicle for teaching the principles of economics.
2. Learning through Repetition: Important tools appear over and over again, allowing students to learn from repetition and to see how one framework can be useful in many different contexts.
Each piece of economic theory in this text is first introduced and explained in the context of a specific application. Most are re-used in other chapters, so students see them in action on multiple occasions. As students progress through the book, they accumulate a set of techniques and ideas. These are collected separately in a ”toolkit“ that provides students with an easy reference and also gives them a condensed summary of economic principles for examination preparation.
3. A Student's Table of Contents vs. An Instructor's Table of Contents: There is no further proof that Russell and Andrew have created a book aimed specifically at educating students about economics than their two tables of contents.
The Student's Table of Contents speaks to students, piquing their interest to involve them in the economics, and a Instructor's Table of Contents with the economics to better help you organize your teaching—and frankly, you don't need to get excited by economics, you already are.
About the Contributors
Dr. Russell Cooper is a professor of economics at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. He has held positions at the University of Texas, Boston University, the University of Iowa, and Yale University as well as numerous visiting positions in Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. He has taught principles of economics at many of these universities as well as numerous courses to PhD students. Cooper’s research has focused on macroeconomics, labor economics, monetary policy, and industrial organization. He received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1982. He was elected Fellow of the Econometric Society in 1997.
Andrew John is an associate professor of economics at Melbourne Business School, Melbourne, Australia. He received his undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Dublin, Trinity College, in 1981 and his PhD in economics from Yale University in 1988. He has held academic appointments at Michigan State University, the University of Virginia, and INSEAD. He has also held visiting appointments at the University of Michigan, the Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration, and the University of Texas at Austin. He joined Melbourne Business School in January 2009.
Andrew has consulting experience in the areas of marketing, economics, and strategy. He has worked with clients in Australia, Europe, and throughout the Asia-Pacific region. He has extensive experience in the pharmaceutical industry and has also worked with firms in the consumer goods and consulting sectors.
Andrew has taught economics to undergraduates, PhD students, MBA students, and executives. His research interests include state-dependent pricing models, environmental economics, coordination games, and consumer boycotts. His published research has appeared in top economics and business journals, including American Economic Review, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Journal of Monetary Economics, Economic Journal, Journal of Public Economics, Management Science, Sloan Management Review, and Journal of Marketing. His work is widely cited in economics journals.