This textbook is unique among economics textbooks. It contains many of the same topics as mainstream textbooks, but it includes and takes very seriously heterodox critiques and alternatives to the mainstream approach to economics. It includes a whole range of alternative theories, including Post-Keynesian, Austrian, Marxian, radical, feminist, institutionalist, and other approaches. The purpose is to teach students about alternative schools of economic thought but also to deepen their understanding of the dominant, neoclassical approach to economics. In this sense, it draws a great deal of inspiration from Richard Wolff and Stephen Resnick’s Contending Economic Theories. Following Wolff and Resnick, an even broader objective is to teach students that economics is a discourse and that no single voice can rightfully claim to have a monopoly on the truth about economics. A final objective is to make available this material at no cost to students. Because of the high price of attending American colleges and universities, I have decided to do my small part to make higher education more affordable. Therefore, the e-book is available for free to students. Students who desire a hard copy can use a print-on-demand service to print one.
The approach of this textbook was developed over a period of fifteen years, during which I have been teaching economics at Valparaiso University, and three and a half years prior to that time when I was a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Notre Dame. I owe a great debt to certain professors at Notre Dame, who helped me develop my pedagogical approach, including Prof. Amitava Dutt, Prof. Philip Mirowski, Prof. David Ruccio, Prof. Esther-Mirjam Sent, and Prof. Martin Wolfson. Instructors at Bowling Green State University, who helped place me on a path towards the teaching of heterodox economics, include Prof. Neil Browne, Prof. Kevin Quinn, and Prof. Steve Ziliak. I had many other excellent instructors at both institutions, but these instructors stand out as major influences with respect to heterodox economics instruction.
Regarding neoclassical economics instruction, Prof. John Hoag is my most important influence. His outstanding intermediate microeconomics course prepared me for so much of what I encountered in graduate school that I owe him a great debt. His impact on me is surely present throughout the microeconomics part of this textbook. I feel the need to mention Prof. Amitava Dutt and Prof. Jaime Ros when I consider how much I learned about mainstream macroeconomics in their graduate classes and as a teaching assistant for Prof. Dutt. I would also like to recognize Prof. Kali Rath from whom I learned much about neoclassical microeconomic theory. Prof. Mary Ellen Benedict also taught me a great deal about econometrics, but this knowledge plays less of a role in this book.
The standard practice as it relates to the writing of economics textbooks is to only cite sources when the knowledge is not regarded as common knowledge in the profession. When concepts and ideas appear in many textbooks without citation, I have not included detailed references. Obvious examples include the production possibilities model and the supply and demand model. Nevertheless, several textbooks have influenced me the most over the years and have influenced my understanding of neoclassical economic models. These textbooks include Foundations of Economics by Robin Bade and Michael Parkin, International Economics by Robert Carbaugh, Core Economics by Eric P. Chiang, Managerial Economics by Paul G. Keat, Philip K.Y. Young, and Stephen E. Erfle, Economics by Campbell McConnell and Stanley Brue, The Economics of Money, Banking, & Financial Markets by Frederic Mishkin, Principles of Economics by OpenStax College, and Economics by Paul Samuelson and William Nordhaus. These authors taught me a great deal during my time as a student and as an instructor. Even though all the economic concepts presented can be found in multiple textbooks, I have chosen to include more citations of textbook authors than is typically the case to acknowledge the contribution of these authors to my own economics education. When authors are cited, I do not include complete bibliographic information each time I cite them in the book. Instead, I only include the author’s name and the year of publication in chapter endnotes throughout the book. A list of references appears at the end of this textbook so that the interested reader can see the full bibliographic information for any of the sources mentioned in the chapter endnotes. This approach greatly limits the amount of information that appears in endnotes and makes the textbook easier to read. Complete information is provided in the endnotes for some sources cited in the book, including news articles, data sources, and references where permissions were required to include the information.
Because I remember where I first encountered specific topics, I have taken care to mention the sources when possible. Frequently the sources are textbooks, but sometimes the sources are lectures that I remember from my days as a student. I have included such references whenever possible.
In terms of mathematics, I have tried to include every step in the solutions to quantitative problems throughout the book so that students need not fill in the blanks themselves.
I have also tried to include all the mainstream concepts and models that typically appear in economics textbooks so that heterodox economics instructors should not feel the need to supplement the textbook with a mainstream textbook.
Daniel E. Saros
March 13, 2019 (Updated on October 20, 2019)