By Diane Coyle

Markets, State, and People: Economics for Public Policy
Editions:Hardcover: € 34.59
ISBN: 9780691179261
Pages: 376
ISBN: 9780691189314

A textbook that examines how societies reach decisions about the use and allocation of economic resources.

Markets, State, and People offers a new way of approaching public economics.

  • A focus on markets and institutions
  • Policy ideas in historical context
  • Real-world examples
  • How economic theory helps policymakers tackle dilemmas and choices

While economic research emphasizes the importance of governmental institutions for growth and progress, conventional public policy textbooks tend to focus on macroeconomic policies and on tax-and-spend decisions. Markets, State, and People stresses the basics of welfare economics and the interplay between individual and collective choices. It fills a gap by showing how economic theory relates to current policy questions, with a look at incentives, institutions, and efficiency. How should resources in society be allocated for the most economically efficient outcomes, and how does this sit with society’s sense of fairness?

Diane Coyle illustrates the ways economic ideas are the product of their historical context, and how events in turn shape economic thought. She includes many real-world examples of policies, both good and bad. Readers will learn that there are no panaceas for policy problems, but there is a practical set of theories and empirical findings that can help policymakers navigate dilemmas and trade-offs. The decisions faced by officials or politicians are never easy, but economic insights can clarify the choices to be made and the evidence that informs those choices. Coyle covers issues such as digital markets and competition policy, environmental policy, regulatory assessments, public-private partnerships, nudge policies, universal basic income, and much more.


Reviews:Phil Murray on Regulation (Cato Institute) wrote:

"Coyle writes a comprehensive exposition of how governments can help markets work better versus the pitfalls of government intervention. The author knows both sides so well that her presentation borders on the schizophrenic. In so far as she gives readers much to ponder without telling them which combination of market and government is best, she succeeds."

Giles Wilkes on Financial Times wrote:

"This book has a self-confident title. But in its pages, Diane Coyle [...] appends to every conclusion an intelligent caveat. Uncertainty and malfunction abound. Markets fail for a long list of reasons — incomplete information, perverse incentives, externality and power — and so governments intervene. But they fail too, beset by the same biases that sabotage markets. And at their heart sit people: irrational, fallible, stubbornly social animals, refusing to act as the model dictates. [...] Coyle’s determination to avoid easy answers shows in her discussion of the well-hyped topic of behavioural economics. [...] The tension between the gut of politics and the brain of technocracy is a running theme. [...] I finished this book feeling more positive about economics as a force for good. [...] US president Harry Truman longed for a one-handed economist, because “All my economists say ‘on one hand’ then ‘but on the other’.” He was wrong to. Equivocal books do not usually do well in a polarised world. This one deserves to buck the trend."

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Table of Contents of Markets, State and People

  1. The State and the Market
  2. Making Markets Work: Regulation and Competition
  3. The Government's Role in Production
  4. Collective Choice
  5. Behavioral Policies
  6. Poverty, Inequality and the Role of the State
  7. Government Failure
  8. Evidence and Economic Policies

About Diana Coyle

Diane CoyleDiane Coyle is the inaugural Bennett Professor of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge. She is a member of the UK Council of Economic Advisers and the Natural Capital Committee, as well as a Fellow of the Office for National Statistics. She holds a PhD in economics from Harvard.