Preface to Principles of Economics: Scarcity and Social Provisioning

Welcome to Principles of Economics: Scarcity and Social Provisioning, a pluralistic textbook designed for two-semester principles of economics sequences.  We are calling this the second edition of the text, though the first addition covered only the microeconomics side.

Principles of Economics: Scarcity and Social Provisioning takes a pluralistic approach to the standard topics of introductory economics courses.  The text builds on the chiefly neoclassical (or orthodox economics) material of the OpenStax Principles of Economics text, adding extensive content from heterodox economic thought.  Emphasizing the importance of pluralism and critical thinking, the text presents the method and theory of neoclassical economics alongside critiques thereof and heterodox alternatives in both method and theory.  This approach is taken from the outset of the text, where contrasting definitions of economics are discussed in the context of the various ways in which orthodox and heterodox economists study the subject.  The same approach–of theory and method, critique, and alternative theory and method–is taken in the study of consumption, production, market exchange, macroeconomic equilibrium, fiscal and monetary policy, as well as in the applied theory chapters.  Historical and contemporary examples are given throughout, and both theory and application are presented with a balanced approach.

This textbook will be of interest especially to instructors and students who wish to go beyond the traditional approach to the fundamentals of economic theory, and explore the wider spectrum of economic thought.

Much of the content of this textbook was taken initially from the OpenStax Principles of Economics text (more below).  That content has been revised, rearranged, and supplemented with the primary goal of presenting, at the introductory level, both orthodox and heterodox perspectives in economics.  In addition to this pluralistic approach, we have aimed to create an accessible and modular text that could be utilized in a number of ways by a diverse body of instructors from different theoretical backgrounds.

About the Authors

Erik Dean is an instructor of economics at Portland Community College in Portland, Oregon.

Justin Elardo is an instructor of economics at Portland Community College in Portland, Oregon.

Mitch Green is an instructor of economics at Portland Community College in Portland, Oregon.

Benjamin Wilson is an assistant professor of economics at Eastern Oregon University.

Sebastian Berger is a senior lecturer in economics at the University of the West of England – Bristol.

History of the Text


As noted above, the foundational content for this text comes from OpenStax.  OpenStax is a non-profit organization committed to improving student access to quality learning materials. Their free textbooks go through a rigorous editorial publishing process, and are developed and peer-reviewed by educators to ensure they are readable, accurate, and meet the scope and sequence requirements of today’s college courses. Unlike traditional textbooks, OpenStax resources live online and are owned by the community of educators using them. Through partnerships with companies and foundations committed to reducing costs for students, OpenStax is working to improve access to higher education for all. OpenStax is an initiative of Rice University and is made possible through the generous support of several philanthropic foundations.

To develop Principles of Economics, OpenStax acquired the rights to Timothy Taylor’s second edition of Principles of Economics and solicited ideas from economics instructors at all levels of higher education, from community colleges to Ph.D.-granting universities. The pedagogical choices, chapter arrangements, and learning objective fulfillment were developed and vetted with feedback from educators dedicated to the project. They thoroughly read the material and offered critical and detailed commentary. The outcome was a balanced approach to micro and macro economics, to both Keynesian and classical views, and to the theory and application of economics concepts. Data current as of 2015 are incorporated for topics that range from average U.S. household consumption to the total value of all home equity. Current events are treated in a politically-balanced way as well.

Pluralist Project

The current text, emphasizing a pluralist approach, began with the awarding of an Open Oregon grant in 2016.  That grant allowed the authors to develop a pluralist textbook for introductory microeconomics courses.  The text has since been expanded to cover both micro- and macroeconomics.

Organization of the Book

The book is organized into four main parts:

  • Introduction. Including a look at the various ways that economists, orthodox and heterodox, define the subject
  • Metal and Modern Money. The macroeconomics section, differentiating orthodox and heterodox perspectives by the traditional divide between neoclassical and post Keynesian theorists.
  • Markets and Management. The microeconomics section, differentiating orthodox and heterodox perspectives with a focus, for the latter, on institutionalist and post Keynesian perspectives.
  • International Economics. Introduces the international dimensions of economics, including international trade and protectionism.

About the OpenStax Team

Senior Contributing Author

Timothy Taylor, Macalester College

Timothy Taylor has been writing and teaching about economics for 30 years, and is the Managing Editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, a post he’s held since 1986. He has been a lecturer for The Teaching Company, the University of Minnesota, and the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, where students voted him Teacher of the Year in 1997. His writings include numerous pieces for journals such as the Milken Institute Review and The Public Interest, and he has been an editor on many projects, most notably for the Brookings Institution and the World Bank, where he was Chief Outside Editor for the World Development Report 1999/2000, Entering the 21st Century: The Changing Development Landscape. He also blogs four to five times per week at Timothy Taylor lives near Minneapolis with his wife Kimberley and their three children.

Steven A. Greenlaw, University of Mary Washington

Steven Greenlaw has been teaching principles of economics for more than 30 years. In 1999, he received the Grellet C. Simpson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at the University of Mary Washington. He is the author of Doing Economics: A Guide to Doing and Understanding Economic Research, as well as a variety of articles on economics pedagogy and instructional technology, published in the Journal of Economic Education, the International Review of Economic Education, and other outlets. He wrote the module on Quantitative Writing for Starting Point: Teaching and Learning Economics, the web portal on best practices in teaching economics. Steven Greenlaw lives in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife Kathy and their three children.

Contributing Authors

Eric Dodge Hanover College
Cynthia Gamez University of Texas at El Paso
Andres Jauregui Columbus State University
Diane Keenan Cerritos College
Dan MacDonald California State University San Bernardino
Amyaz Moledina The College of Wooster
Craig Richardson Winston-Salem State University
David Shapiro Pennsylvania State University
Ralph Sonenshine American University

Expert Reviewers

Bryan Aguiar Northwest Arkansas Community College
Basil Al Hashimi Mesa Community College
Emil Berendt Mount St. Mary’s University
Zena Buser Adams State University
Douglas Campbell The University of Memphis
Sanjukta Chaudhuri University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
Xueyu Cheng Alabama State University
Robert Cunningham Alma College
Rosa Lea Danielson College of DuPage
Steven Deloach Elon University
Debbie Evercloud University of Colorado Denver
Sal Figueras Hudson County Community College
Reza Ghorashi Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
Robert Gillette University of Kentucky
Shaomin Huang Lewis-Clark State College
George Jones University of Wisconsin-Rock County
Charles Kroncke College of Mount St. Joseph
Teresa Laughlin Palomar Community College
Carlos Liard-Muriente Central Connecticut State University
Heather Luea Kansas State University
Steven Lugauer University of Notre Dame
William Mosher Nashua Community College
Michael Netta Hudson County Community College
Nick Noble Miami University
Joe Nowakowski Muskingum University
Shawn Osell University of Wisconsin, Superior
Mark Owens Middle Tennessee State University
Sonia Pereira Barnard College
Brian Peterson Central College
Jennifer Platania Elon University
Robert Rycroft University of Mary Washington
Adrienne Sachse Florida State College at Jacksonville
Hans Schumann Texas AM
Gina Shamshak Goucher College
Chris Warburton John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY
Mark Witte Northwestern
Chiou-nan Yeh Alabama State University



Instructors may contact Open Oregon Educational Resources for quiz question test banks associated with each chapter.


© May 18, 2016 OpenStax Economics. Textbook content produced by OpenStax Economics as well as by the present authors are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 license.

For questions regarding this license, please contact

Economics, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Introductory

Copyright: 2016 by Rice University; 2020 Erik Dean, Justin Elardo, Mitch Green, Benjamin Wilson, Sebastian Berger.

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Preface to Principles of Economics: Scarcity and Social Provisioning Copyright © 2020 by Rice University; Dean, Elardo, Green, Wilson, Berger. All Rights Reserved.

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