Living Economics

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

The passion of the teacher is often the inspiration for a student. This lively book illuminates how economics affects all walks of life, whether in the marketplace, voting booth, church, family, or any human activity.

The passion of the teacher is often the inspiration for a student. This lively book illuminates how economics affects all walks of life, whether in the marketplace, voting booth, church, family, or any human activity. Boettke believes that economics is not merely a game to be played by clever professionals, but a discipline that touches on the most pressing practical issues at any historical juncture. The wealth and poverty of nations are at stake; the length and quality of life turns on the economic conditions individuals find themselves living with.

So teaching and learning economics are high stakes ventures. Along the way he introduces us to major thinkers: from Smith, Say, and Bastiat of the Classical School, to Neoclassical and Austrian scholars (Menger, Mises, Hayek, Kirzner, and Rothbard) on to New Institutional economists (Alchian, Coase, Demsetz, North, Ostrom and Williamson) and Public Choice theorists (Buchanan, Tullock, and others). This engaging and reasoned book is a must-read for economists, students, and everyone else who wishes to better understand economics.


“Living Economics is a superb book. Peter Boettke’s passion for excellence in teaching and for his subject, mainline economics (the sort of basic economic reasoning that draws on the ideas of a line of thinkers from Adam Smith through the Austrians to people like Jim Buchanan and Elinor Ostrom) shines through on every page. It is vintage Boettke: engaging, witty, and chock full of insight. This book should be put in the hands of every first-year student of economics, if only to show them what they are missing!”
—Bruce Caldwell, Research Professor of Economics and Director, Center for the History of Political Economy, Duke University

“Economics as it should be, Living Economics is a solid book that counters the excessive simulation of modern academic economics while, at the same time, avoiding the temptation to extend application of the logic beyond reasonable limits. Boettke concentrates on the primary purpose of economics, which is to convey an understanding of how, within properly designed institutional constraints, operative markets generate and distribute value without overt conflict.”
—James M. Buchanan, Jr., Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences; Advisory General Director of the Center for Study of Public Choice and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics, George Mason University

“Living Economics is in many ways a remarkable book. The volume luminously reflects the amazing breadth of Professor Boettke’s reading, and the deep and careful thoughtfulness with which he reads. But the true distinction of this volume consists in more than the profound economic understanding, and wealth of deeply perceptive doctrinal-history observations that fill its pages. Its distinction consists in the delightful circumstances that these riches arise from and express Peter Boettke’s extraordinary intellectualgenerosity and unmatched intellectual enthusiasm—rare qualities which have enabled him to discover nuggets of valuable theoretical insight in the work of a wide array of economists, many of whom are generally thought to be far away from the Austrian tradition which Boettke himself splendidly represents. Boettke’s prolific pen is dipped, not in the all-too-common ink of professional one-up-manship, but in the inkwell of an earnest, utterly benevolent—and brilliant—scholar, seeking, with all his intellectual integrity, to learn and to understand.”
—Israel M. Kirzner, Professor Emeritus of Economics, New York University

“Boettke’s passion for economics and the clarity of his vision makes Living Economics a pleasure to read. No reader will fail to benefit from his broad and deep insights.” 
—Steven E. Landsburg, Professor of Economics, University of Rochester; author, The Armchair Economist

“Living Economics is inspired by Boettke’s students and great teachers, such as Boulding and Kirzner, and the central theme that economics has strayed dangerously from a ‘mainline’ emphasis on process and rules, as opposed to outcomes. The mainline sinew is rooted in Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments extending to Hayek, Ostrom and other moderns whom Boettke examines with deep understanding of their relevance for our time.”
—Vernon L. Smith, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences; George L. Argyros Endowed Chair in Finance and Economics, Chapman University School of Law

Read more at the Independent Institute.