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Identity Economics: How Our Identities Shape Our Work, Wages, and Well-Being
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Identity Economics: How Our Identities Shape Our Work, Wages, and Well-Being

3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  185 ratings  ·  29 reviews
"Identity Economics" provides an important and compelling new way to understand human behavior, revealing how our identities--and not just economic incentives--influence our decisions. In 1995, economist Rachel Kranton wrote future Nobel Prize-winner George Akerlof a letter insisting that his most recent paper was wrong. Identity, she argued, was the missing element that w ...more
ebook, 200 pages
Published January 21st 2010 by Princeton University Press (first published 2010)
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Geoffrey Gordon
I can't believe economists are just now discovering that how people view themselves and their place in society affects the economic decisions they make. Identity economics is a very promising field, and this book represents the tip of the iceberg. The chapters on gender and race left much to be desired, but as this book is merely an introduction to the topic of identity, and because entire books can be (and have been) written on how gender and race/ethnicity influence economic behavior, I'm will ...more
While this research was long overdue in the economics community, and the case studies currently relevant, Nobel Prize laureate George Akerlof has failed to tailor this book for any target audience. Too uninspiring for the 'pop sociology' Gladwell-ites, and likewise too vague and self-referential for students of economics, Identity Economics fails to inspire or even inform.
Alex Wang
You do not need this book to understand the academic literature in economics of identity, nor do you need this book if you want to be entertained by the amazing power of identity in human society. So only suitable for those who do research in the area and want a light reading that relevant...
Nick Klagge
The topic of this book is very interesting; however, it is basically an elaboration of Akerlof's AEA presidential address "The Missing Motivation in Macroeconomics." I became interested in reading the book after reading that address, but the book is more or less a less-technical exposition of the same ideas. The overall thrust is that economists need to incorporate social norms into their models of utility functions, and that doing so can help explain several counterintuitive results that arise ...more
Shonna Froebel
Grabbed this book from the new book shelf at work as I needed something to listen to on my commute.
It was interesting, but I am glad I have a degree in economics, as some of the terminology was definitely subject specific. It talked about a relatively new aspect of economics that uses individual or group identity perception to predict behaviour. Some types of identity are generally fixed (race, gender), while others are temporary and may change over time. Standard economics says that people woul
I started with the misperception this was a book on economics, but it fits better in the business category.

A late section illustrates my view of the book:

.. most economists also believe that a good model yields surprising conculsions.. there must be a gentlemanly distance between assumptions and conclusions, otherwise the theory is vacuous... We are like the sage who explained movement by saying that it is due to the principles of locomotion.

The section goes on to point out two examples of conc
An extremely fascinating look at how identity can be incorporated in the study of economics and choices. As someone who has always felt uncomfortable with the basic tenets of self-interest and rationality that underlies much of economic thinking and methodology, this book helped me reframe my understanding of economic choices and the usefulness of economics in informing my own field of interest, sociology.
Not as amazing as Animal Spirits, but again touches on the role of identity and background as part of shaping economics and policies -- but again, anyone reading op-eds by Friedman, Krugman, Stiglitz (or any other Economist for that matter -- heck, throw in Gladwell who's been apparently also classified as an "Economist), among others are aware of identities and backgrounds shaping economic thinking.
David Lau
His book has lukewarm reviews but I'm gonna give it a 4 because i think identity economics has great potential. The reader must understand that it is still a field in the fetal stages of development so studies and data are limited.

I was first exposed to identity economics when I read gang leader for a day. The book showed that even though drug dealers made minimum wage (equivalent to a mcdonalds salary), they chose the more risky profession because they wanted to be identified a certain way. Th
Trevor Phillips OBE ,head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has chosen to discuss George A Akerlof and Rachel E Kranton’s Identity Economics: How Our Identities Shape Our Work, Wages and Well-Being , on FiveBooks ( as one of the top five on his subject - Equality, saying that:

“…This recently published book says that one effect of being in an increasingly liberal and affluent society is that aspects of identity that previously didn’t seem to matter that much to e
Roy Kenagy
Oct 30, 2011 Roy Kenagy marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Publisher's blurb:

"Identity Economics bridges a critical gap in the social sciences. It brings identity and norms to economics. People's notions of what is proper, and what is forbidden, and for whom, are fundamental to how hard they work, and how they learn, spend, and save. Thus people's identity--their conception of who they are, and of who they choose to be--may be the most important factor affecting their economic lives. And the limits placed by society on people's ide
How we identify ourselves is vital to the decisions we make, and its something that traditional economics does not address, so I was pleased to stumble onto this book. It is surprisingly short, which makes it an easy read. As intended by the authors, this is just an outline and introduction to how to apply identity utility and the outsider vs. insider paradigm. I think this theory could be extremely useful for analyzing international economics, in addition to the smaller scale issues analyzed in ...more
Katie Echols
Easy read and pretty simple theory. Not sure I agree with every conclusion but a good book just the same!
Ozzie Gooen
I was pleasantly surprised. As others have probably noted, it's quite short and to the point. However, the point made sense to me and I enjoyed the academic research behind it.
Emily Zhang
Reasonable theory while kind of too obvious at moments
Jeffrey Cavanaugh
A short primer on the utility of adding sociological notions of identity to neoclassical economic analysis - particularly in the form of preference formation and expression. The book is lucid, well-written, and thoughtful, though not particularly compelling for those familiar with the many problems inherent in the rational actor assumptions of homo economicus Consider it another salvo in the ongoing war fought by sociologists, psychologists, and dissident economists against the hegemony of the C ...more
Not that difficult of a read, this book is good even for someone who doesn't have the firmest grasp on economics. However, I think its point is rather obvious, though perhaps it's because Akerlof's theories are implemented in today's studies of economics.
Margaret Sankey
Two astute economists attempt to theorize and quantify why people, based on "in" and "out" group identity, will act against their economic interests. You'd think that the economic backlash from treating certain customers badly, or refusing to hire talented people from a particular group, or clinging to marketing that reflects a stereotypical view would force change, but generally not.
This book helped me understand why, who, and how we become us. We are very much dependent on our sense of belonging that dictates what we will become. Perhaps with an understanding of where we come from we can become more than who we are today. The economy evolves around the very classification of who we are. Enjoy the book.
We can't separate our identities from our decisions and the overall ways in which we live our lives - something to keep in mind when faced with any kind of decision-making process. This is an informative and enjoyable book, an interesting meeting of the economics and psychology worlds.
Hui Tan
Identity economics merely formalises the takeaways from social psych by giving social psych a framework from which its ideas could flow. Doesn't seem to be offering much more than what social psych already has - in fact, the latter tends to be richer and more insightful.
Gelijn Werner
Simpele en doeltreffende uitleg van het idee dat ook sociale status een plek verdient in de nutsfunctie.
Although this book is designed as a primer for use of a relatively new tool of analyzing the impact of identity on economic decisions, the reader soon realizes the potential significance of this concept for other disciplines.
Ismail N.
Identity Economic Theory which asses the supply and demand involved with identity and their commitment to the task at hand. Goffman's Marry-go-round theory. Works well.
hmm, a book about economics without a single equation or hardly any numbers. i wish they had shown a bit more of the formal modeling
Akerlof offers a very accessible take on the way in which cultural and identity shapes our consumption decisions.
An interesting and useful economic concept - but the writing itself isn't all that engaging
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George A. Akerlof is a Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and 2001 Nobel Laureate in Economics.
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