robert h. frank

How wedding dresses got so expensive and roast chickens got so cheap

“I’m an economist, and one of the most common misperceptions I encounter is that my subject is just about predicting which way the stock market is headed or when interest rates will rise. Economics, in fact, is far more interesting. It can help explain all sorts of things in life, from what we eat to our choice of romantic partners to where we live.

To encourage my Cornell students to consider how economics applies to their everyday lives, I challenge them to “pose an interesting question based on something you’ve seen or experienced personally, and then use basic economic principles to craft a plausible answer to it.” I call it the Economic Naturalist writing assignment, a nod to how a few simple principles in biology often help people make sense of what they observe in the natural world around them.”

Economics is more than just predicting which way the stock market is headed or when interest rates will rise. It can help explain all sorts of things in life, from what we eat to our choice of partners to where we live. Do you have a question related to how economics affects your daily life? Send it along to voxcrowdsource@vox.com or @econnaturalist and we might answer it in our next column.