The “economic way of thinking” is something we at Econlib emphasize…a LOT. This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts sat down again with “the Economic Naturalist, Cornell’S Robert Frank. Their subject…almost anything! They explored some puzzles, what Roberts calls “dinner table economics,” such as why do brides buy their gowns, while grooms rent their tuxes. (Presumably, the gown will be worn once, while tuxes may have a longer useful life.)

So now let’s see how we can liven up your dinner table conversation. Give some thought to the prompts below…Your puzzle(s) could even become the subject of a future episode!


1. Frank suggests that only a half dozen or so concepts “do the heavy lifting” in economics. What do you think those half dozen concepts are, and why? (Hint/Spoiler: Russ seems to think there are ten…) 2. Related to the first question…What was your own experience in an introductory economics course like? Was the economic way of thinking imparted and/or emphasized? What would have made your experience better?

3. It’s your turn… Russ and Frank explored several puzzles this week…Frank notes that some of the best puzzles he’s explored have come from his students, and coming up with such conundrums is in fact an assignment in his course. What puzzle would you pose for enterprising economic thinkers to solve?