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Accounting for Tastes

Accounting for Tastes

Gary S. Becker

ISBN 9780674543577

Publication date: 03/30/1998

Economists generally accept as a given the old adage that there’s no accounting for tastes. Nobel Laureate Gary Becker disagrees, and in this lively new collection he confronts the problem of preferences and values: how they are formed and how they affect our behavior. He argues that past experiences and social influences form two basic capital stocks: personal and social. He then applies these concepts to assessing the effects of advertising, the power of peer pressure, the nature of addiction, and the function of habits. This framework promises to illuminate many other realms of social life previously considered off-limits by economists.


  • [Becker’s] achievement has been to create an elegant structure, internally consistent and based on reasonable assumptions, and to use it to generate many testable propositions about how people grapple with the complexities of personal choice… [He] has helped to liberate economics from a straitjacket of oversimplification and narrowness of view.

    —David Throsby, Times Literary Supplement


  • Gary S. Becker was University Professor of Economics and Sociology at the University of Chicago. In 1992, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.

Book Details

  • 292 pages
  • 5-15/16 x 8-15/16 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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