Perfect companion to ease competition

Collins Internet-Linked Dictionary of Economics. Fourth Edition
May 26, 2006

This is the fourth edition of a dictionary of economics that first appeared in 1988. The main addition is the claim that it is "internet-linked". This is rather misleading, because the links consist solely of an appendix of useful websites and no attempt is made to provide links in the body of the text. Given that using the web quickly reveals that previous editions are available for as little as 1p, an immediate question is whether the appendix is worth the additional cost.

That said, the dictionary, whether used or new, is a very useful book for students. It covers a wide range of material in both micro and macroeconomics and even contains entries on econometrics and regression analysis. The individual pieces are written in a clear and concise manner, and there is a substantial amount of helpful cross-referencing.

The topics are by no means purely theoretical. Important institutional frameworks, such as those involved in competition policy, are discussed in detail. And there are some helpful tables of statistics, such as the growth rates of the main Western economies over the past 25 years.

These give the book a strong practical flavour that makes it particularly attractive to students taking broader business-related courses who need to know something about economics. The book is aimed principally at students taking A-level or first-year economics, plus the business studies market at all levels. Almost by definition, it lacks the esoteric content of the higher reaches of economic theory, but a student who mastered the theoretical content of this book would be a good economist by any standard.

An attractive feature of the book is that economics is not presented as a set of theorems about the world whose validity has been established beyond reasonable doubt. For example, there are three pages explaining the concept of perfect competition, a key theory within economics. But the authors spell out very clearly the assumptions on which the claims of efficiency for this market structure are based and suggest that in the real world some of them may not be valid. There is not so much of this material as to confuse students, but enough to make some of them realise that economics is a way of thinking about the world rather than a set of established results.

Overall, most students of economics would find this book helpful so, yes, the new edition is definitely worth the extra £8.98.

Paul Ormerod is the author of Why Most Things Fail and a director of Volterra Consulting.

Collins Internet-Linked Dictionary of Economics. Fourth Edition

Author - Christopher Pass, Bryan Lowes and Leslie Davies
Publisher - Collins
Pages - 560
Price - £8.99
ISBN - 0 00 719810 8

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