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Economics as Detective Fiction


  • William Breit
  • Kenneth G. Elzinga


Almost all good economic analysis is structured like classical detective fiction. This relationship goes well beyond the obvious fact that both detective fiction and economic analysis involve puzzles. The economist's epistemology, presented in the form of scientific narratives, runs parallel to the puzzle-solving processes of the mastermind sleuth presented in the form of fictional narratives. The family resemblance between economic analysis and the classic whodunit becomes even more transparent by noticing another important characteristic they share: the concept of equilibrium. Examples chosen from recent economic literature bring the argument into sharper focus. In each instance, the solution to the puzzles that lie at the heart of their respective domains must be ingenious and surprising in order to be persuasive.

Suggested Citation

  • William Breit & Kenneth G. Elzinga, 2002. "Economics as Detective Fiction," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(4), pages 367-376, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jeduce:v:33:y:2002:i:4:p:367-376
    DOI: 10.1080/00220480209595334

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    Cited by:

    1. Cecil E. Bohanon & Michelle Albert Vachris, 2011. "Economics and Literature: The Gains from Trade," Chapters,in: International Handbook on Teaching and Learning Economics, chapter 21 Edward Elgar Publishing.

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