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Markets and Diversity

Markets and Diversity

Sherwin Rosen

ISBN 9780674010758

Publication date: 07/15/2004

A staunch neoclassical economist, Sherwin Rosen drew inspiration from Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, particularly his theory of compensating wage differentials, which Rosen felt was central to all economic problems involving product differentiation and spatial considerations. The main theme of his collection is how markets handle diversity, including the determination of value in the presence of diversity, the allocation of idiosyncratic buyers to specialized sellers, and the effects of heterogeneity and sorting on inequality.

Rosen felt that good economics required combining simple but powerful concepts such as optimizing and equilibrium with careful empirical analysis. It was important for the relatively simple rules of behavior implied by rationality to have useful, empirically descriptive content and predictive power. If they did, it was often possible to infer underlying structure (tastes and technology, for example) from actual behavior. Using this approach, Rosen was able to develop powerful insights into such phenomena as the enormous salaries paid to sports and entertainment stars and top business executives. He also explored with fruitful results the premium paid to workers in risky jobs, learning and experience in the labor market, and other labor market phenomena.


  • Sherwin Rosen was highly creative and thought deeply about economic questions. This collection of some of his most important articles on compensating differences in labor and product markets, superstars, the value of life, investment in human capital, and other important economic questions is still fresh and stimulating. I expect his influence on economic thinking to grow. There is no better way to get into his work than to read Markets and Diversity.

    —Gary S. Becker, Nobel Laureate in Economics


  • Sherwin Rosen was Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and former president of the American Economic Association.

Book Details

  • 370 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press