Book Review – Micromotives and Macrobehavior

Thanks to Crisson Jno-Charles for the guest book review!

Micromotives and Macrobehavior
by Thomas Schelling, 1978

Micromotivates is a proto-pop economics book by the Nobel Prize winning economist Thomas C. Schelling. The book was first published in 1978, and it expanded on research Schelling conducted on how self-segregation can arise as a long-run consequence of moderate preference for neighbors of a similar race.

The friend who first introduced me to the book mentioned that it predates our modern expectations of popular social-science books. Their assessment is mostly correct. Schelling’s writing comes off as accessible, but not to the point of diluting his underlying economics or game theory lesson. It doesn’t entice the reader with “here’s this not-obvious-thing that we think is incredibly important, that once you’ve learned it, will make you feel super smart” — a feature common to modern day pop social science books (and TED talks, which I enjoy by the way). It reads more like a Summer elective lecture on Game Theory. You’ll learn a thing or two and possibly perceive human organizational a little different, at least for a little while.

But it also plods along, sometimes belaboring a concept and I mostly skimmed the latter quarter of the book. But you should read it anyway and especially so the first half.

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