4 'Spousonomics' Surprises and 1 Critique

June 5, 2011

Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes by Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson

Surprise 1 - Great Read:Spousonomics was a marginal book choice for me. It sat on my Audible Wish List for a while, and I was only lukewarm about buying it. To my surprise, Spousonomics is smart, funny, and informative. I'm always a little weary of journalists popularizing academic disciplines (too much fawning, too little critiques), but Szuchman and Anderson are fluent writers and accomplished students of the dismal science.

Surprise 2 - Economics Learning: The behavioral and micro economic principals discussed in Spousonomics will familiar to most of you, but thinking about economic concepts in the context of marriage is a great way to engage in some active learning. We think about our relationships all the time, and thinking about our relationships from the perspective of sunk costs, loss aversion, marginal costs, and supply and demand makes both the economic principles, and the relationships, seems more interesting.

Surprise 3 - Under-Buzzed: Nobody told me to read Spousonomics. (I'm telling everyone I meet, including strangers, my parents, my spouse, and even unmarried teenagers - go figure). Have you hear any buzz about this book? Maybe we have a collective Freakonomics fatigue? Maybe I'm just not spending enough time with the right people.

Surprise 4 - Universal Marriages: All of us in long-term relationships seem to be exactly the same. We seem to all have the same issues (sex, money, work, real estate, in-laws, etc. etc.) Very validating.

Critique 1: Spousonomics is the economic marriage book for the "The Bobos in Paradise" crowd. Knowledge worker marriages. Don't expect much diversity beyond the world of journalists, lawyers, professors, web designers, advertising people etc. in the profiles. Would have been fine if the authors owned up to the shortcomings of the qualitative methodology utilized in the research that went into the book.

What are you reading?


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