Given the behavioral foundation of Frank, we often get asked for recommendations for interesting, important, general audience books on behavioral economics. There are a bunch so we split it up into recent hits and the classics. Today we start with the modern hits.
What Works, by Iris Bohnet — Hot off the press! This book summarizes how we can overcome gender discrimination — from anything from subconscious discrimination of others to self-discrimination — with simple, easy, and sometimes obvious, institutional design. I'd go on, but [this video] explains it better than I could.
Misbehaving , by Dick Thaler — This book somehow simultaneously both provides a foundation of behavioral work and gives an entertaining (if sometimes Thaler-centric) history of how economics became (if sometimes begrudgingly) behavioral. Thaler's best work… until he played blackjack with Selena Gomez in The Big Short last year.
Who Gets What (and Why) by Alvin Roth — An under-the-radar, but well-reviewed, book from 2015 is a great summary of a Nobel Laureate's path-breaking work. An Economist's typical answer to the question of "who gets what?" is "who is willing to pay the most". But what about markets where money is not an option — public high schools, donated kidneys, medical internships, and so on? Our favorite part of Al's work is thinking about how some market exchanges cannot happen because of the repugnance of them — paying for organs, or (warning! Frank tie-in) lending money between friends. Most of the book isn't necessarily "behavioral", but it's a great read. (disclaimer: Al was our Chief Behavior Officer's adviser in grad school)
Scarcity, by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir — One of the most provocative hypotheses fully laid out in a book in the last few years. The authors proffer the idea that the state of lacking (being hungry, poor, unloved) makes you focus so much on that domain that you both make better decisions in that domain, and you make substantially worse decisions in other domains. (disclaimer: Sendhil was on our Chief Behavioral Officer's committee in grad school… our CBO needed a lot of help in grad school apparently)