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The Price of Everything: Solving the Mystery of Why We Pay What We Do
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The Price of Everything: Solving the Mystery of Why We Pay What We Do

3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  981 ratings  ·  184 reviews
Everything has a price, but it isn't always obvious what that price is.

Many of the prices we pay seem to make little sense. We shell out $2.29 for a coffee at Starbucks when a nearly identical brew can be had at the corner deli for less than a dollar. We may be less willing to give blood for $25 than to donate it for free. Americans hire cheap illegal immigrants to fix
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 4th 2011 by Portfolio Hardcover (first published January 1st 2011)
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There are a lot of intriguing concepts in The Price of Everything, but I was bothered throughout by logic that seemed sloppy. But on the other hand, I mistrust my judgement a little bit because I had a vehement, irrational, negative emotional reaction to some of the book's content.

Porter's key concept is that you can examine any decision in cost/benefit terms, and you can almost always find a way to quantify the cost and benefit in monetary terms (whether it's explicitly transactional or not).
This is a fantastic book with more information than you could possibly imagine. The title of this book -- The Price of Everything -- is no exaggeration at all. Eduardo Porter definitely covers the price of pretty much everything in this exhaustive book -- not just the prices, but the values as well, of a cup of coffee, trash, crossing borders, the price and value of marriage, women, men, baby girls, baby boys, sperm, eggs, the price of happiness, the price of the future, even the price and value ...more
Won this in a First Reads Giveaway. The book has a very interesting premise that made me very curious to see what the author would do with it: every choice we make is shaped by the prices of the options laid out before us--what we assess to be their relative cost--measured up against their benefits (p. 3). Of course, he really couldn't discuss the price of everything , but he is to be commended for trying. He covers not only the price of things (goods and services), but also the prices of life, ...more
Holly Cline
As a nerd of the econ major variety, I was highly anticipating the arrival of this book once I'd won it through First Reads. Luckily for me, the book didn't disappoint.

Books of this type tend to go wrong in one of 2 ways: 1) The "facts" are simply not true, and the book serves to sell rather than to actually provide real information. Or 2) An intelligent economist writes a factual yet way too dense for the common public text. This book did a great job of falling into neither of those traps. It h
Diane Pollock
A fascinating look at how we place value and why. The book opens by looking at the price of trash. We will pay people to remove it and pay large amounts not to live near it, but, on the other hand, their are those who will pay large amounts FOR our trash. The price of women, happiness, faith, work and many others lead you to look at things with new eyes. The book is clever and wise, full of fun nuggets and tidbits of information that will stay with you long after you close it's covers. For examp ...more
This book read like a B level high school can this man be a professional journalist??? Affirmative action at it's finest, apparently. This book was littered with misinformation and bias,which was explained when you read his sources. Within the first 30 pages, I came upon multiple untrue statements, including (and none too surprising) complete misinformation about the cost of illegal aliens as supplied by pro-Hispanic groups. Unless you want a fairy tale, avoid this book at all costs ...more
Genre: Pop-Economics

I'm not sure what I think of this book... it was all over the map in what it discussed and what it tried to cover... and my initial reaction to many of the initial statements was -- "but modern business psychology has proven that people don't behave like that" (e.g. as the ultimate rational actors that classical economics seems to think we all are...)

I thought the question it purported to try to answer, why we pay what we do was interesting, but that I didn't really feel tha
The Price of Everything: Solving the Mystery of Why we Pay What We Do written by Eduardo Porter is a book about the fundamentals of what Americans spend their money on. In this book, Porter shows the world of over spenders, as well as those who are considered “cheap”. Porter talks a lot about how people spend so much money for a cup of coffee at Starbucks that is the same as the coffee on the corner deli but for a lot less. He also talks about illegal immigrants and how people would rather pay t ...more
John Hibbs
A few pages in I feared I was reading another freakanomics-gladwell rip; a mention of a study on tips received by lap-dancers (apparently, they receive more during menstrual peak) and other such cute anecdotes which lead to the conclusion that human beings really are helpless creatures doomed to success or failure by biology.

Fortunately Porter progresses from this worn-out method. We can quickly accept that there's many intangibles behind the price of something, but it's difficult to appreciate
Behavioral economics and evolutionary psychology explain why we pay what we pay for things.

Unfortunately this book is rather a collection of facts, stories and studies (many of which students of behavioral economics are likely to have heard before) than a coherent, or revelatory narrative.

The author shows us that humans are, in category after category, largely, not "rational actors". He shows that prices are in fact relative and the fairly obvious observation that pricing is emotionally and ev
Quite possibly the most thought-provoking book I've read in 2010, and I've read a lot of books this year. Eduardo Porter explores the big decisions that we make throughout our lives through the lens of "price". Ostensibly, this Freakonomics-ish, Predictably Irrational-ish book is yet another in the series of tomes exploring unexpected consumer behavior, but it's really much more than that. Where the earlier books focused on micro-behavior governing smaller buying decisions, this book tends towar ...more
In this unique take on economics, finance, valuation, culture, and society, Eduardo Porter addresses the curious costs that are innate in life, and how people manipulate them. With chapters addressing everything from “stuff” to life, happiness, work, and the future, he examines monetary costs as well as the expectations that surround expensive and cheap goods and services. In the introduction, Porter notes that both the rich and poor evaluate the costs and benefits of their choices, and the pric ...more
This is a fascinating and thought provoking work. It explores the mystery of why we pay $3.39 for a mocha latte from a coffee shop when we could get it for $1.19 from the deli down the street. It demonstrates that we gripe to heaven about the price of produce and then nag our Congress to be rid of the immigrants who pick it so cheaply. The author points out that behind every choice we make, from buying a latte to joining a church, has costs and rewards, in other words, a price. All of our concep ...more
I got this book through the First Reads program.

I was attracted to the idea of pop-economics book written since the latest recession. I enjoyed his first chapter, "The Price of Things" where he analyzes, among other things, the price of his daily coffee routine and his willingness to pay for it.

However, he lost my interest for much of the middle of the book. It wasn't the I disagreed with the ideas he was promoting (in fact I agreed with many of them). Mostly it was the inconsistent manner in wh
Thanks to Giveaways for this book!

This is a good book for explaining basic economic theory using real-life examples. It falls into the category that I've noticed lately - books that teach school subjects in a more interesting way, without the huge expense of college. I wouldn't want to take an economics course - but I enjoyed reading this book.

My only complaint is that the author seems to believe in the current theory of people as consumers. Everything in the world is just economics. You can see
Jeffrey Nabozny
I love economics and mostly enjoyed this book. Some sections I think have a broad appeal such as the section on The Price of Women and The Price of Free. The last section on The Price of Future was definitely the weakest and he left me with more questions than anything else. When he talks about the mortgage crisis, I think he missed a big chance to tie this in to The Price of Free. After all, many people took these mortgages because they saw people like the author who made big money owning a hom ...more
I won this book through Goodreads. I ususally do not like books about economics, I find them boring and hard to understand, but this one looked interesting. There were some places in the book that were dry and dragged, but for the most part I found it very informative. I especially liked the chapter on healthcare, Mr. Porter makes some very important points that I really agreed with. I also liked the chapter on religion. It made me look at the function of churches in a totally different way. It ...more
This book is dense with information. It is organized into chapters on the price of freedom, the price of religion, the price of women, and others. I found most chapters interesting at first, although my interest level begin to diminish as the author beats his theme into the ground. He tries to compact so many facts into the book that it feels like a textbook from an upper level college course in economics. It could be cut to about half its length and still get its point across. There were a few ...more
Chip Lichtenwalner
More descriptive than analyzing. A little of it was actually interesting, even though it wasn't really anything I heard before. Such as the value of a human life, and how cold cost/benefit analysis often doesn't fly in the world of politics, as seniors do not find the idea that they might be worth less than a young person. So, the organizations will just fudge the numbers so that everyone is worth the same. These do raise some questions about the allocations of resources, but the book doesn't re ...more
This was an excellent book. I really enjoyed reading it. The author took a very interesting look at prices (not just monetary prices) people pay for things and the possible reasons why. The author was able to make some intriguing connections between things that you don't normally think of as relating to each other and in all the book had a lot of good information I had not considered before. I would definitely recommend this book.
An excellent read... both informative and engaging. This would be a good supplemental reading for students as it illustrates many economic theories using real world examples. Yet it is not a dry, academic tome, but a fun and thoughtful book. Highly recommended!
Jennifer (President, Chronic Complainers Not-so-Anonymous)
Every single decision or choice has a consequence. We pay a price for everything we do - so it's up to each and every one of us to make sure we act in our own best interests. Mr. Porter explains the critical role prices play in our everyday lives.
The book posits a number of interesting ideas--enough to get me to pick the book up. However, after only a few chapters, I simply could not continue.

As mentioned in previous reviews, one of the first arguments in the book involves individuals who chose (ostensibly subconsciously?) to disobey the national 55 mph speed limit of the 1970s due to math calculations wherein they determined that their time was more valuable than any gain in sav
Very good, I loved it
I have mixed feelings about this book, because at first I picked it up and I was pretty excited about reading it after the introduction. Like many people, I expected the read an in-depth analysis of everyday prices and not a philosophical overview of the price of life. The description on the back of the book is inaccurate: This book doesn't really explain why, instead it explores the hypothesis of "What if everything in life is measured by monetary gain/loss?".

The author's opinion is that it is
i really enjoyed this book. the beginning is more exciting than the end, but mostly because my interest is actually on pricing of material things, which is only the first chapter. despite that, porter really got me to think about other costs such as happiness, work, culture, faith and more.

the things chapter is totally fascinating. some sections are difficult to read. it's tough stuff to think about parts of life you think are priceless and logically approach them, since they are clearly not pr
I’m not sure what to think of this book. In a way, it’s yet another example of explaining Econ 101 phenomena to people who never took the class – or did, but slept through it. So much of it has a kind of “Freakonomics” feel to it. This is… fine, I guess, though nothing impressive and not very satisfying – Porter never actually answers why things cost what they do, just kind of meanders through reasoning behind specific prices and gives weak-tea arguments for them.

But that’s not entirely fair, I
Yasser Hassan
A review about the audio book edition. An informative and clearly-written book that mixes sociology, psychology, and economics and takes the reader/listener behind the scenes to provide an insight into the intricate process of how prices of "things" we see and deal with in our lives are both determined and perceived. Such "things" are not necessarily physical as it goes far beyond that to tackle the prices of things like happiness, work, faith, and even life. At the beginning you might feel intr ...more
Thanks to Goodreads First Reads for this advance copy. As usual the phase of the moon picks pretty good reads.

I'm of two minds regarding The Price of Everything. On the one hand, I do like the recent trend towards bringing academic subjects home to the general public. In this case, economic theory and its direct relationships to the general public. I also appreciated the international perspectives that included the developed and developing worlds.

Then again... I took an introductory economics
Hannah Eiseman-Renyard
I know nothing about economics, but the study of how and why we ascribe values is actually much much broader than that, and often cuts across philosophy, sociology, psychology, politics and much much more.

I found the chapter on the price of human life absolutely fascinating. While we like to think human life is priceless, we make judgments based on its value every day: i.e. if the speed limit were 10mph lower across the country, we know we could save X number of lives annually... but people valu
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Eduardo Porter writes about business, economics, and many other matters as a member of the New York Times editorial board. He has also worked as a journalist in Mexico City, Tokyo, London, São Paulo, and Los Angeles. He was the editor of the Brazilian edition of América Economía and covered the Hispanic population of the United States for The Wall Street Journal. He lives in New York.
More about Eduardo Porter...
The Price of Everything: The Cost of Birth, the Price of Death, and the Value of Everything in between O Preço de Todas as Coisas The Price of Everything: Finding Method in the Madness of What Things Cost Todo tiene un precio

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