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A Review of Scott E. Page's The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies


  • Yannis M. Ioannides


This assessment of Scott Page's The Difference (Princeton University Press, 2007) emphasizes the depth and breadth of the book's coverage and arguments and checks them against existing empirical evidence, when available. It argues that the book navigates artfully between being a "manifesto" for diversity and rigorous science writing while at the same time marketing economic science in new ways. The review welcomes the book's popularization of richer aspects of everyday decision making, individual and collective, and its making an excellent case for the social significance of abstract economic theorizing, especially about problem solving. It praises the book's lively interpretations of statistical tools of decision making by means of enticing narratives. The book's rhetoric urges us to move beyond accepting diversity as a matter of taste, or even because of its beneficial effects on the "production function," and ultimately adopts its powerful logic. It speculates that the book's true impact will likely come after thorough empirical research. In empirical endeavors, issues of definition, especially of identity and of measurement, and evaluation of policies that would enhance diversity would be decisive. In democratic societies, policies may pose new dilemmas as they benefit from public interest in overcoming the accumulation of past disadvantages. (JEL D23, Z13)

Suggested Citation

  • Yannis M. Ioannides, 2010. "A Review of Scott E. Page's The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(1), pages 108-122, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:48:y:2010:i:1:p:108-122 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jel.48.1.108

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Antonio Ciccone & Giovanni Peri, 2006. "Identifying Human-Capital Externalities: Theory with Applications," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(2), pages 381-412.
    2. Muriel Niederle & Carmit Segal & Lise Vesterlund, 2013. "How Costly Is Diversity? Affirmative Action in Light of Gender Differences in Competitiveness," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(1), pages 1-16, May.
    3. Jacques Cremer, 1986. "Cooperation in Ongoing Organizations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(1), pages 33-49.
    4. Hong, Lu & Page, Scott E., 2001. "Problem Solving by Heterogeneous Agents," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 123-163, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Farzana Afridi & Vegard Iversen & M. R. Sharan, 2017. "Women Political Leaders, Corruption, and Learning: Evidence from a Large Public Program in India," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66(1), pages 1-30.
    2. Karima Kourtit & Peter Nijkamp, 2013. "In Search of Creative Champions in High-Tech Spaces," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-193/VIII, Tinbergen Institute.
    3. Peter Nijkamp & Jacques Poot, 2015. "Cultural Diversity - A Matter of Measurement," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1502, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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