Economics unzipped

03-04-05_image-1.jpg“You put naked in the title and they show up,” joked Charles Wheelan, PhD’98, author of Naked Economics. And show up they did. A line of students formed outside Stuart 103 an hour before Wheelan, a Harris School lecturer, and economics professor Allen Sanderson were slated to discuss “College Undressed: the ‘Naked Economics’ of Student Life,” sponsored by the student-run Chicago Society. As the crowd squeezed into the lecture hall, it became clear that the room would not accommodate everyone, and a number of fans were turned away with the promise of a rain check.

Sanderson, armed with 200 index cards on which students could write their names to enter a door-prize lottery, was pleasantly amazed that he might not have enough cards. “I can’t imagine that at any other University 200 students would show up on a Thursday night in the penultimate week of the quarter to talk about economics.”

He and Wheelan gave the audience some bare-bones commandments for living economically: Don’t take a job during the academic year that pays less than $10 per hour. Don’t get married in December, but do plan children in that month, for tax purposes. And never tell a potential employer the starting salary you want, even if the employer insists. For particularly unscrupulous planners, Sanderson suggested to “go and visit your grandma on December 30, 2010,” and if she is near the end of her life “stand on a hose or something” to expedite her passing before the relaxed estate-tax legislation runs out.

By Meredith Meyer, ’07


Charles Wheelan, author of Naked Economics.

March 4, 2005