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Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,175 Ratings  ·  111 Reviews
Applied Economics is an accessible guide to how our economic decisions develop. It explains the application of economics to major world problems, including housing, medical care, discrimination, and the economic development of nations, illustrating with examples from around the world. This new, expanded edition has been updated to address economic questions that are partic ...more
Audio CD, Revised and Enlarged Second Edition, 11 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published November 12th 2003)
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Mike Coville
Nov 25, 2015 Mike Coville rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that everyone needs to read at least once in the life, if not a dozen times. The idea placed forward by Thomas Sowell will effect the way to approach any situation in your life, and will definitely change your perspective on society at large.
Feb 06, 2011 Carla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading several articles/essays/excerpts from Thomas Sowell in undergrad. He has the great ability of making economics accessible though his clear writing style and simple presentation of ideas. However, in this particular book, it was just that - the simplicity - that bothered me.

The whole premise of the book is that we should "think beyond stage one" and consider long-term effects of policies and practices. Sowell describes the (usually unintended) negative effects of certain polici
The title would have you believe this would be a more thorough-going followup to Sowell's fantastic "Basic Economics", with a greater emphasis on practical, real-world problems and proffered solutions evaluated by empirical analyses. That is not the case. "Applied Economics" treads a lot of familiar ground for those acquainted with Sowell and makes many of the same arguments found in Basic Economics, only from a more obviously biased perspective. The level of research in the material covered is ...more
Suzie Quint
I know people think economics is a boring topic, and it can be. So can anything if it's not well presented. But one of the reasons I'm an economics junkie is that, when it's presented well, it's also a history lesson. But it's not just what happened but *why* it happened. Because fundamentally economics is the study of incentives. It's "people did this because this situation made it appealing." And then economists look at history and, yup, over and over, from one time and place to the next, when ...more
Jun 23, 2014 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Sowell's "Applied Economics" ought to be required reading in every high school and college economics, politics, and English courses. While Mr. Sowell is Ph.D economist and fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford, his ideas are useful even to the non-economist. As a society, we tend to be taken in too easily by people who make irrational arguments that sound good at first glance but produce miserable results since no one thought about the next step. Often times, too many words are polit ...more
Jarrod Jenkins
Nov 20, 2008 Jarrod Jenkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Reinforces the idea that working hard in America leads to success. Like it or not, those who are poor or fail almost certainly made a series of wrong choices throughout their lives. There is simply too much opportunity in our country. Incentives are everything.

Memorable quotes:

"Even the top FIVE percent of households by income had more heads of household who worked full-time for 50 or more weeks a year than did the bottom 20 percent. In absolute numbers, there were 3.9 million heads of household
Jul 26, 2010 Lucas rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, economics
After chapter upon chapter telling of the counter-productiveness of government intervention in markets, the immigration section is entirely out of place. Apparently there's nothing wrong with heavy regulation and central planning in the case of workers wanting to cross borders. The lack of an appropriately weighty explanation for the inconsistency with the rest of the book casts everything else into doubt. Instead of a coherent and principled set of arguments, all the rest could be cherry picked ...more
Steve Schardein
Mar 02, 2014 Steve Schardein rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yet another fantastic exploration through all things economic, social, and political, guided by none other than master economist Thomas Sowell. This particular book addresses the consequences associated with "stage one thinking", which just happens to be a common point of failure for a huge number of modern politicians and a shockingly vast majority of the voting constituents today. As always, he matter-of-factly spells out how such thinking has gotten us into grave trouble in the past, and he d ...more
Wayne Farris
A thought provoking book that gets just a bit tedious at times. Still a good book that I am glad I read. After the introduction and first chapter or two you could just choose the topics in which you have the most interest. I especially enjoyed the gun control and housing sections. The book explores the unintended or "stage two" or "stage three" consequences of political responses to problems and how those consequences aren't realized for years. By then the consequences are frequently blamed on s ...more
Jul 15, 2009 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a must read for understanding what is happening in the political arena with health care and a variety of issues that are threatening the economics of the free market. Stage one is where politicians and the people want solutions but there are three stages afterwards where the consequences follow. These consequences are what will destroy the effectiveness of the free market and the constraints put upon it by supply and demand and other economic principles. I loved his assessment of th ...more
Apr 07, 2013 Zach rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do we think deeply on our economics issues? Who’d want to? The price we pay for not doing so is a series of unintended consequences that would be comical if they weren’t so serious. Examples are given of cities where police, teachers and firefighters cannot afford to live. Examples show where there is inner city blight caused by rent control. Examples show where high minimum wages cause high unemployment with numerous “discouraged workers”. The book was very readable, but of course wasn’t a feel ...more
Ben Midanek
Jan 09, 2012 Ben Midanek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
This book explores the far-reaching and (mostly) unintended consequences of economic policy and other interventions in the free market. It is a very concise primer on economic policy decision-making, and Sowell explores the true costs and benefits of intervention in a way that is both readable and robust. The book can give any reader the basic economic literacy that is so lacking in in our society and (perhaps more importantly) our electorate. More advanced readers will also find plenty of artic ...more
This book is vintage Thomas Sowell - clear, concise, logical, informative, and very boring.

Yes, boring. This reads more like a textbook. Sowell isn't trying to persuade anyone of anything. Education seems his goal.

I've read Sowell's columns for years in The Conservative Chronicle and they're great - witty, persuasive, and at times even fun. For some reason, that enjoyable style doesn't translate to his books. I've read a couple of his other books and thought they were boring too.

Oh well. The in
Bojan Tunguz
Jun 29, 2011 Bojan Tunguz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many political considerations have the underlying economic dimensions. In fact, probably every political decision has major economic ramifications. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to discern all of those ramifications and the consequences of those decisions that come up further down the road sometimes take time to manifest themselves. This book provides the reader with some basic tools of analysis in order to fully appreciate some of the major political issues of today. The main focus is on ...more
Dec 30, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title _Applied Economics_ doesn't sound exciting, so I expected the text to read like a textbook. But the book was very easy to listen to and is filled with insightful, economic analysis about a whole range of topics (immigration, housing prices, commuting, slavery, drug prices, medical care, etc.).

The author's position is that the public and politicians need to think beyond stage one (i.e., the immediate future) and instead consider the effects of particular policies far down the line. Too
Don Weidinger
Oct 27, 2013 Don Weidinger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
politics categorical economics incremental, politics as initial impetuous economics as long term, price controls are lies about supply and demand, fdr needlessly prolonging depression via government experimentations stalling investment and consumer spending and expanded Hoover policies, 29 crash not unique similar to 87, Reagan as Coolidge let economy recover, doing something seldom helps, riots result from social instability from wave of policies well intentioned, unpaid apprenticeships typical ...more
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Apr 02, 2013 Rohan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After the reading the first chapter itself I knew I was going to like this book, in fact, Love this book. This book just puts into perspective various things that you have been thinking about throughout your life time. Things that you knew are true but whose affect you couldn't see the in a bigger picture (in political, economical and other socio-economical systems around you). I thought the first few chapters were very powerful and they really did help me in understanding why we cannot just kee ...more
Doran Barton
Mar 27, 2009 Doran Barton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While on vacation in southern California, I hit a Barnes & Noble in Costa Mesa to look for something to read and something for my wife's birthday. I was looking for a book I'd read about like New Deal or Raw Deal? How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America, but the store I was at seemed chock-full of books about President Barack Obama, Global Warming, what was wrong with the Republican Party, and not much of anything that would interest a conservative like me. I did find, however, this bo ...more
Alexander Haynes
While the book did present some interesting thought experiments in the middle chapters, I must confess I barely got through chapter 1 - which (correctly) decried the use of 'stage-1 thinking' or looking only at the immediate or first-order effects of any given policy. However, this was presented in such as way that the conclusion appeared to be 'many policies create second- and third-order effects that are bad, so these policies are bad.' A more accurate treatment of economic tradeoffs would be ...more
Michael Palkowski
Jul 09, 2014 Michael Palkowski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sowell's points are ludicrously grounded and clear, which is perfect for not only a parsimonious read but also in understanding dense economic theory in context. His treatment of the housing bubble is stellar as is his insistence in looking beyond the initial stages of policy. Looking at reverberations and side effects of well meaning legislation is something that is rarely considered, but Sowell does it masterfully here, to the point that his pronouncements seem like common sense; this is the m ...more
May 23, 2015 Sylvester rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics, history, essays
Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One goes beyond Basic Economics and looking at the different styles of thinking patterns can ave drastically different outcomes. Stage one thinking is the common misconception thinking of focusing on the present, Multiple stages thinking looks to the past experiences and future implications.

Sowell differentiated the different thinking to various topics from Racism and Slavery to housing, healthcare and education.

It's a good read for anyone interested in w
Nov 15, 2015 Vince rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stowell makes some very good points, even in arguing some positions that I do not agree with. generally his economic takes are sound but in many cases he fails to propose a system that would work better, or explore solutions to the issues he presents that do not require a fundamental paradigm shift but rather a small tweak to align incentives. His chapter on emigration starts out rational enough, but the chapter devolves a bit into a less rational decrying of immigrants.
Mar 12, 2015 Jen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read a decent range of material I think and ive taken economics classes in college and I enjoy reading about economics, but I hated this book. Sowell is a white man who can't see past his own privilege, who pulls bunk out of his ass thinly veiled as economics to explain away problems that clearly exist for reasons beyond just that. His explanations are overly simplistic as he cycles through three reasons for every theme he addresses. Slogging through this book it felt like all those puss bags ...more
Skylar Burris
I sampled the intro and the first two chapters on Kindle. This book looks like it is going to be more accessible than most of Sowell’s works, and it also seems to be non-partisan. He looks at the effects of economic policies regardless of party, critiquing policies of both Democrats and Republicans. He also notes that many of the Democrat policies that Republicans associate with long-term economic damage are actually policies that were begun under Republicans and only continued or expanded under ...more
Good, common sense stuff on the economics of such things as insurance, the development of nations, labor (free and paid), and housing, and how economics relates with such things as politics and discrimination. His argument is that many, especially politicians, don't think past the immediate payoffs of economic decisions to the long-term consequences. Many helpful examples populate the book.
Jun 10, 2014 Lucas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book so far, the author provides lucid account and justification for his arguments as well as encouraging the reader through a series of case studies to think beyond stage one. The only critique I have of this book is that the author spends no space defining stage one. Sometimes using the term to refer to election cycles, sometimes using the term to refer to stages of an individuals life and other implied definitions too.

Now that I've finished the book I can say this was well worth the re
Benjamin Glaser
Apr 25, 2014 Benjamin Glaser rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book should have been titled "Common Sense" because that is all Sowell does in this book. He shows the logical outworking of economic planning past the "first stage", that is when the plan is put into action there will be things affected by it that you need to plan for from the beginning.

Highly Recommend.
Sean Crowley
Jul 23, 2014 Sean Crowley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Masterful practical explanation of Economics as applied to various aspects of Civilization over time. Brilliant use of practical economics to illustrate how it has impacted civilizations development or lack thereof. I must read more of Sowells work.
Dec 29, 2009 Ben rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The subtitle of this book reveals its underlying theme: our decisions (economically and politically) should take into account their potential effects. When we act without thinking beyond stage one, the long-term effects can be more costly than the apparent short-term gain. I generally agree with Prof. Sowell's points of view, which seem to be of the libertarian/classical liberal ilk. Each chapter is devoted to applying multi-stage thinking to a specific subject matter--the mortgage crisis, immig ...more
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Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social commentator, and author of dozens of books. He often writes from an economically laissez-faire perspective. He is currently a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In 1990, he won the Francis Boyer Award, presented by the American Enterprise Institute. In 2002 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal for prolific scholars ...more
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“Where recyling takes place only in response to political pressures and exhortations, it need not meet the test of being incrementally worth its incremental costs. Accordingly, studies of government-imposed recycling programs in the United States have shown that what they salvage is usually worth less than the cost of salvaging it.” 9 likes
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