Across the developed world, global engagement has become a major political fault line. Some say that trade, investment, and immigration are threats rather than opportunities. Global uncertainty, rising inequality, and populism present real challenges to globalists. Choosing Openness argues that Australia’s past prosperity has flowed from engaging with the world. An open Australia requires stronger advocacy and smarter policies.
From 1914 to 1945, the world turned inwards, as fear shut down flows of people and goods across national borders. A century later, can we make a better choice?
The Luck of Politics (2015)
In 1968, John Howard missed out on winning the state seat of Drummoyne by just 420 votes. Howard reflects: ‘I think back how fortunate I was to have lost.’ It left him free to stand for a safe federal seat in 1974 and become one of Australia’s longest-serving prime ministers.
In The Luck of Politics, Andrew Leigh weaves together numbers and stories to show the many ways luck can change the course of political events.
This is a book full of fascinating facts and intriguing findings. Why is politics more like poker than chess? Does the length of your surname affect your political prospects? What about your gender?
And who was our unluckiest politician? Charles Griffiths served as the Labor member for Shortland for 23 years. It was an unusually long career, but alas, his service perfectly coincided with federal Labor’s longest stint out of power: 1949 to 1972!
From Winston Churchill to George Bush, Margaret Thatcher to Paul Keating, this book will persuade you that luck shapes politics – and that maybe, just maybe, we should avoid the temptation to revere the winners and revile the losers.
The Economics of Just About Everything (2014)
Did you know that another 10 cm of height boosts your income by thousands of dollars per year? Or that a boy born in January is nearly twice as likely to play first grade rugby league as a boy born in December? Or that natural disasters attract more foreign aid if they happen on a slow news day? And that a perfectly clean desk can be as inefficient as a messy one?
Drawing on examples and data from across Australia, Andrew Leigh shows how economics can be used to illuminate what happens on the sporting field, in the stockmarket, and at work. Economics has things to say about AC/DC and Arthur Boyd, dating and dieting, Grange and Geelong, murder and poverty. Incentives matter, often in surprising ways, and seemingly simple everyday activities can have unexpected outcomes. Insights from behavioural economics can also help us make better decisions.
If you like fresh facts and provocative ideas, this is great train and weekend reading. You'll soon see the world and the people around you in a new light.
Battlers and Billionaires (2013)
Is Australia fair enough? And why does inequality matter anyway?
In Battlers and Billionaires, Andrew Leigh weaves together vivid anecdotes, interesting history and powerful statistics to tell the story of inequality in this country. This is economics writing at its best.
From egalitarian beginnings, Australian inequality rose through the nineteenth century. Then we became more equal again, with inequality falling markedly from the 1920s to the 1970s. Now, inequality is returning to the heights of the 1920s.
Leigh shows that while inequality can fuel growth, it also poses dangers to society. Too much inequality risks cleaving us into two Australias, occupying fundamentally separate worlds, with little contact between the haves and the have-nots. And the further apart the rungs on the ladder of opportunity, the harder it is for a kid born into poverty to enter the middle class.
Battlers and Billionaires sheds fresh light on what makes Australia distinctive, and what it means to have – and keep – a fair go.
In this forensic examination of how we live, Andrew Leigh, one of our most exciting young thinkers, rips though Australian life and asks whether we are tightly-knit and looking out for each other, or are we all disconnected? Organisational membership records and surveys show that our society is shifting rapidly. These days, chances are you never quite get around to talking to your neighbours, or you’re always too busy to give blood. In Disconnected Andrew Leigh guides us through the reasons that our social fabric has begun to fray, and outlines steps to creating a better civic and personal life.