Homer Economicus: The Simpsons and Economics

Instituto Bruno Leoni // 24 January 2017

“Homer Economicus. The Simpsons and Economics” is a book edited by Joshua Hall, currently Associate Professor of Economics at West Virginia University, and published by the Stanford University Press, the publishing house of Stanford University, one of the most prestigious universities in the world.


The book explains basic economic principles (such as opportunity cost, comparative advantage, externalities, monopolies, shortages, the role of incentives, supply and demand, currency, markets, profit, economic growth, competition, unintended consequences, etc.) through the episodes of one of the most well-known and criticized cartoon of the 21th century.


Today’s economic illiteracy is worryingly high and since we are, after all, economic agents, it is of vital importance to understand the principles that lie behind every single human action of ours.


When there is an election, we listen to a wide range of political promises that concern economic issues. But: what is the best economic policy to pursue in order to stimulate growth? Is it right or wrong to engage in intrusive industrial policies? What do the terms competition and productivity mean? Is a higher level of taxation any good?


Homer Economicus has been written by several academics who want to help the general public taking better-informed decisions. In countries like Italy, where financial literacy is low compared to the OECD average, simple but powerful books like this should be widely used by all those high-school economics teachers who want to build tomorrow’s citizens.


Being able to understand the simple economics notions that drive our decisions and that define our behaviour is therefore the very first step to fully appreciate – for example – politicians’ often unattainable promises and to vote accordingly.


For this reason, over the last few years, the Bruno Leoni Institute organizes “IBL at school”, offering economic related conversations. These conferences are held by the Institute’s scholars and are targeted to all high school classes that request them. Despite the challenging goal, IBL’s first-class staff travelled all around Italy and met with more than 2.700 students during the latest academic year.


Thus, the Bruno Leoni Institute carries out training initiatives aimed at teachers by giving them the great chance to explain teenagers complex, and sometimes counterintuitive, economic concepts. IBL’s effort to translate and publish Homer Economicus through its own publishing house goes in this direction.


With this crowdfunding campaign, IBL is asking for your help. Let’s put a copy of Homer Economicus in the hands of every single high-school economics teacher.




EPICENTER publications and contributions from our member think tanks are designed to promote the discussion of economic issues and the role of markets in solving economic and social problems. As with all EPICENTER publications, the views expressed here are those of the author and not EPICENTER or its member think tanks (which have no corporate view).


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