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Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tradeoff (A Brookings Classic)
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Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tradeoff (A Brookings Classic)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  142 ratings  ·  9 reviews

Originally published in 1975, Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tradeoff is a very personal work from one of the most important macroeconomists of the last hundred years. And this new edition includes "Further Thoughts on Equality and Efficiency," a paper published by the author two years later.

In classrooms Arthur M. Okun may be best remembered for Okun's Law, but his la

Kindle Edition, 156 pages
Published April 30th 2015 by Brookings Institution Press (first published May 1st 1975)
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3.90  · 
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 ·  142 ratings  ·  9 reviews

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Jason Furman
May 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, economics
2/22/2019 - 2/24/2019
It is striking how much wisdom is packed into this short book (originally a set of lectures Arthur Okun delivered at the Harvard Kennedy School). It is also striking how well it has aged. In fact, much of it reads as if it is participating in contemporary debates, although. I am not sure that is a reflection on Okun's timelessness or the staleness of the contemporary debates.

For example, Okun argues against using the reduction of political power as a justifications for more
Sagar Jethani
Okun clarifies the issues surrounding the tradeoff between equality and efficiency, rather than taking a firm position on the issue of how much society should exchange one for the other. Was rather hoping for a more spirited point-of-view than this highly-academic elucidation of the issue. Reading this will illustrate just how extreme the Republican party has moved since the book's original publication in the mid-1970's.
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Still relevant after all these years.
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was originally written in the mid-1970's but could just as easily been written yesterday. Fascinating to read in light of recent political and economic developments.
Dec 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book - extremely well written. All about the boundary between the market and the public sphere. Which transactions should be excluded from markets, such as basic freedoms (the right to survival), votes, etc. We do not want society to turn into a giant "vending machine" where anything and everything is for sale. Okun is a champion for equality, differing from his many conservative colleagues in the economics profession such as Milton Friedmen. At the same time, the efficiencies of the marke ...more
Daniel Mason-D'croz
Jun 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book, written back in the 1970s, and still relevant. While this was written 40 years ago, the challenges between equality and efficiency is one that continues to bedevil us, and has recently returned to to forefront of discussion. Considering this, I think that this book is definitely worth revisiting especially considering the very pragmatic way that Okun approaches the subject. I really liked the way that Okun presented the issue of having to balance social good with economic ...more
Mar 02, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Policy wonks
I have to say, the word "big" strikes me as just a little bit juvenile in a context like, say, the subtitle of a "serious" book. It's like if Huntington had subtitled "Clash of Civilizations" something like "how cultural differences lead to big wars." But maybe it's just me.

A pretty good primer on the tradeoffs between equity and efficiency and government policy. It's not especially theoretical, but I'm sure policy types would enjoy it a little more. Kind of basic though. If you're interested in
Dec 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for everyone interested in social sciences. Extremely well-written and to the point on balancing equality and efficiency to reach whatever flavor of policy you prefer.
Brendan Cheney
A good theoretical exercise, but the numbers are by now way out of date. The existance of a trade-off between equality and efficiency should be a much bigger part of the debate in economics.
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