Talk:Robinson Crusoe economy

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Good article Robinson Crusoe economy has been listed as one of the Social sciences and society good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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older entries[edit]

Use in Economics[edit]

This term is used frequently in economics. The following books discuss this term at length:

  1. Theoretical foundations of corporate finance By João Amaro de Matos
  2. Intermediate Microeconomics By Hal R. Varian
  3. Microeconomics demystified By Craig A. Depken

Apart from these books, I have also added various external links to this term. Abhilasha369 (talk) 14:44, 15 August 2011 (UTC)

Use of the term in News articles: -Abhilasha369 (talk) 17:08, 15 August 2011 (UTC) -Abhilasha369 (talk) 17:11, 15 August 2011 (UTC) -Abhilasha369 (talk) 17:13, 15 August 2011 (UTC) -Abhilasha369 (talk) 17:14, 15 August 2011 (UTC)


Uditichopra (talk) 18:16, 21 August 2011 (UTC) your article is awesome. Great job done !! The diagrams rock !!

Notes to self[edit]

Must add *{{cite book|last=Cowell|first=Frank Alan|title=Microeconomics: principles and analysis|year=2006|publisher=Oxford University Press|isbn=0199267774|pages=637} to the references - Abhilasha369 (talk) 11:17, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

Also refer to:

Peer review[edit]

I've been asked to take a look at this article and offer some suggestions for improvement. I see it has already been promoted to GA but was not promoted to FA. Hopefully some of the comments here can help editors along to FA status in the future.


  • The flow of the lede is a bit awkward. You are offering an executive summary for a potential reader. At the end of the lede they should be able to understand the basics of the article but feel some temptation to read the remaining detail. I would recommend you reorder the lede somewhat. The first sentence should be a simple declarative statement describing the subject. Not asserting its importance. So "a Robinson Crusoe Economy is a simple framework to analyze economies in terms of one consumer and one producer" is better than asserting that it is the most important framework in analyzing trade. Next you want to tell the reader where the term came from and how it came to be used in economics. If you don't have a specific reference for the first use you can simply show the most prominent use (Varian is fine for this). Then explain in the next paragraph how the model works and why it is useful. The article does a pretty good job with the latter, but it could be better.
    • I have changed the lede. Does it make sense now?Abhilasha369 (talk) 03:30, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

  • Take advantage of section headings to guide the reader. For instance you have a section called "Robinson Crusoe's Multifaceted Role" followed by two notionally subordinate sections titled "consumption" and "production". Making those two sections subordinate in the table of contents is as easy as changing their headers. I have done as much so you can see how I did it. Now the reader can see that your two sections on consumption and production refer to Crusoe starting a firm and are not independent.
    • Perfect, thank you. Looks lovely now.Abhilasha369 (talk) 03:30, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

  • This is a matter of preference, but I suggest you start with the production possibilities frontier rather than the labor leisure tradeoff. that way you can introduce a salient tradeoff between two goods without appealing to indifference curves or explaining the idea behind labor choices. With the article's current images this make be difficult (as the image assumes a two person economy in order to show the core), but I think a reader from outside economics will pick up on the "guns v. butter" idea before indifference curves.
    • Hmmm. This edit will take me longer because I have used the labour leisure trade off to explain parts of the PPF analysis. So I can make this edit, but I think it'll take longer than the other ones. I mean I'll essentially have to reverse the article.Abhilasha369 (talk) 03:30, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

  • Be careful when pointing to images in text. There is no real standardized way to link a section of text with an image. For instance, this article says "This is depicted in the adjacent figure." while true, it may not always be true. What if I want to move the image? Now I have to rewrite the text. What if I am using a downloaded version of WP on my phone (where the images are not saved)? What if I am on a crappy mobile browser? I see a few options. First you can keep things as they are. That's certainly easy. Second, you can label figures in the caption and then refer to labels in the text. Third, you can expand the captions and remove in text references to the images and allow them to be moved more freely through the article. The second option is common in print publishing (e.g. books and academic journals) where the author doesn't know the precise page layout for the final work. An image adjacent in a draft may be in a facing page in the final print. In those cases (as in the case of wikipedia, where people may add or remove images and text) it helps to have durable pointers.
    • I have labelled the figures as figure 1,2,3 etc and referred to them as that.Abhilasha369 (talk) 03:30, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

  • The section on "Production Function and Indifference Curves" includes some short identities for our economy. The style of asserting a relationship then immediately defining the terms is fine for a journal but less helpful for an encyclopedia. I suggest you try moving the definitions to the body of a paragraph and then give a short explanation of the relationship followed by the equation.

  • This crops up again later with "For simplicity, assume that PriceCoconuts = $1.00." The reason we set prices equal to one is to avoid talking about price where the relationship of interest is something else. Economists have about a half dozen ways of making this statement, each with varying degrees of complexity. Ken Arrow would create another market for a numeraire good and then make sure that the numeraire market is in equilibrium when P_numeraire =1. We don't have to do that. Just tell the reader in a sentence that we aren't interested in prices and their exclusion doesn't do violence to the analysis.
    • I made this note at the relevant area in the article.Abhilasha369 (talk) 03:30, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

  • "Note that labour is assumed to be a 'bad (economics)'" You can link to articles with funny titles like that by piping them. You type [[bad (economics)|bad]] and you get bad (the guy in the middle is a pipe character, hence the term).
    • Piped a whole lot of stuff in the article! Looks so much more appealing visually. Abhilasha369 (talk) 03:30, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

  • Remember to read your article and imagine a linear story being developed. If you introduce a concept you should flesh it out later. Don't force the reader to jump around. When we start the PPF section we see the second actor discussed as though the reader already knows him. We don't! Only later, in the Comparative Advantage section do we assume him into being! He is mentioned in the lede but not revisited until PPF and not explained until a few paragraphs later. Explain, then utilize.
    • I introduced Man Friday in the lede, PPF and comparative adv. sections. I had also made an error in the PPF section. I wrote his name as Friday whereas it should have been Man Friday. Corrected this too.Abhilasha369 (talk) 03:30, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

  • The "See also" section should mostly include concepts which aren't already heavily linked in the body of the article. You have hatnotes and links to Production-possibility frontier and Pareto Efficiency; it is no longer necessary to include them in the see also section. Stuff like the fundamental theorems of welfare economics can stay.

  • The external link section can probably be trimmed. We don't need to include every university course. And those we do can be piped in a manner similar to internal (or "wiki") links. Instead of a piping character we use a space. For instance, [ Daniel McFadden's course at Berkeley] gives Daniel McFadden's course at Berkeley.
    • Done. I left the ones that I thought were important. But still there are quite a few. Maybe I can trim it down a bit more...Abhilasha369 (talk) 03:30, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

  • A lede image might be nice (an image to go in the upper right hand of the page and represent the subject as a whole) but isn't necessary.
    • Haven't found one yet. Found this adorable cartoon of Crusoe picking coconuts but unfortunately it's in a copyrighted book so I can't use it. Abhilasha369 (talk) 03:30, 7 October 2011 (UTC)


  • "As a result, Crusoe ends up consuming at the same point he would have if he made all the above decisions together. In other words, using the market system has the same outcome as choosing the individual utility maximisation and cost minimisation plans" You kinda buried the lede here. This is the big upside to creating a robinson crusoe model; the results are identical to a model of perfect competition with more actors.
    • I changed this. Didn't give it out in the lede... Only referred to it in the equilibrium section. And also explained why it is important. Abhilasha369 (talk) 03:39, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

  • "It is crucial to note that the shape of the PPF depends on the nature of the technology in use." Be careful. When economists say "technology" they don't mean the same thing as normal people.
    • Linked to returns to scale and made a short mention of the same.Abhilasha369 (talk) 03:39, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

  • The "Comparative Advantage" section goes kinda fast. I'm not sure how actionable this comment is but you seem to be rushing into how comparitive advantage and trade expands the PPF. Not yet sure how to solve this.
    • I see what you mean. I think more content is needed.Abhilasha369 (talk) 03:39, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

  • "Pareto Efficiency" I would remove this section entirely. I don't think a discussion of efficiency is necessary beyond showing that RCE = PC. Pareto efficiency is a hard concept to articulate and introduces all sorts of questions which might not be on topic for this specific model. Especially since the PE refers only to the two person two good economy, not one person one good.
    • I wrote this section essentially as a conclusion to RCE and competitive equilibrium. If I delete it, I'm afraid the "utility" part of RCE - or its relevance - will be lost for economics students at least. Abhilasha369 (talk) 03:39, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

  • Some of the wording in the article assumes the voice of a textbook or lecture. Sometimes this occurs as a result of reading journal article after article and picking up the tics of econ writers. Other times it can be caused by close paraphrasing. In both cases you want to re-word the article to move things to a voice more appropriate to a general encyclopedia. Remember, you aren't proving a theorem. You don't need to worry so much about lexical precision. A sentence like "Let Π represent the firm's profit level, w represent the wage rate at which the firm employs labour, C represent its total costs of producing coconuts and L mean the amount of labour employed." is fine for a homework answer or a paper but you want to make the text as accessible to a broad audience as possible. Why not "In order to produce coconuts a firm has to hire workers at a given wage, w. The number of workers employed (L) times the wage constitutes the total cost of producing coconuts, C. The firm's profit level ∏ is determined by subtracting C from P*Q" Or something like that. Yes it is longer. Yes it is less precise. But we aren't looking for absolute brevity and precision. We are looking for clarity.
    • An example "Clearly, the production function is concave in two dimensions and quasi-convex in three dimensions." Who is this clear to? Why is it important? Stating that an ostensibly unclear thing is clear is the mark of a textbook or lecturer. Our articles should only say things like this when it ought to be clear to the reader.
    • The section on Crusoe starting up a firm and choosing to produce one day and consume the next is also written in this fashion. why is he doing this? Why is this mode of analysis important? Why would he need to create a firm and a currency just to stagger his choices? This section should stand up to a reader who might be inclined to think of it as needlessly obtuse. You know why these decisions are important. Impart that to the reader.
      • Changed, I think. I had no idea I wrote in such a boring manner!!! But good, I can author my own book someday. Probably econometrics. :) Abhilasha369 (talk) 03:39, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
        • It isn't that you write in a boring manner. I used the word "obtuse" specifically because it was precisely what I meant. As an economist you may understand the analytical use for imagining a firm and a currency and so forth because you know what the destination is. You will eventually show how Crusoe balances labor and consumption such that the marginal rate of substitution between leisure time and consumption equals his implied wage rate. But a non-economist wouldn't know why such a conclusion is important or interesting. That's what I mean. It isn't a matter of writing style, per se. Protonk (talk) 21:39, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
          • Yes, I understand. I was only joking :) But the insight was very useful, it helped me introspect. Thanks a lot! How do you like the article now? Tweaked it here and there and inculcated most of your suggestions. Abhilasha369 (talk) 03:49, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

  • Too much of the article rests on Varian. Varian is a good book, better than most micro texts. But there should be a variety of sources used in the article to make sure our readers see some benefit aside from just reading Varian instead. There are plenty of sources on google books and google scholar. I see you've used some of these.
    • Yes, you're right. I will search for more references. But since most of the topics are covered by Varian, I will primarily have multiple references to the same concept. That's the idea right? To diversify it out a bit more? Or do I have to replace Varian references with other authors?Abhilasha369 (talk) 03:39, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

  • The article lacks a broader view of the subject. The material in the article is good, but focused very narrowly on intermediate microeconomics. The WP article should answer some of the following questions:
    • Why do economists care about this model (or why do they have students care about it)?
    • Why is it important that the outcome of this model is the same as a PC w/ many actors?
    • What are the actual limitations of the model?
    • Has any research used this model in a meaningful sense (maybe?)?
    • How commonly is this model used in teaching economics? (look at some econ. education journals)
      • Why do economists care about this model - in the lede; What are the actual limitations of the model?- pending; Has any research used this model in a meaningful sense- yet to find anything (not looking hard enough!); How commonly is this model used in teaching economics?- sort of addressed this in the lede. Abhilasha369 (talk) 03:39, 7 October 2011 (UTC)


So I don't feel the article is bad. The authors have done a good job illustrating and articulating a basic economic model used either in toy models or as a pedagogical tool. The article is relatively complete (with the exceptions shown immediately above) and serves as a good addition to the encyclopedia. The points I listed above are there to help the article along to the next step, preparing for FA. I should also point out that while I am something of a subject matter expert I didn't leave too many specific economic points. Nor did I comment on grammar and fine grained style points. Those are probably still areas for improvement and will be areas of concern in a FAC but I will leave them to another editor. Thanks for the great article and I hope this helps. Protonk (talk) 17:02, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

Some doubts[edit]


  1. Can you suggest an image for the lede? I love the idea.
    I would remove the template and add a picture from Robinson Crusoe. Protonk (talk) 18:40, 6 October 2011 (UTC)


  1. I came across this page about the limitations of the model: Criticism of RC Economy

Do you think I can use this to create a new section for criticisms/reactions? The references will be quite limited because none of the textbooks I referred to had anything about criticism. Abhilasha369 (talk) 05:05, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

  • I wouldn't create a criticism section unless you have to. Criticism is generally much better inline than in its own section. If you have a section on interpretation and use (as I suggested in the review) criticism can be dovetailed in there nicely. Protonk (talk) 18:44, 6 October 2011 (UTC)


  1. Would it not also be important to add criticism of the theory? -- (talk) 07:03, 27 July 2012 (UTC)

How is this a good article?[edit]

To start, the lede is supposed to summarize the article body. It doesn't. It contains a bunch of essentially erroneous claims about how the Robinson Crusoe economy is mostly used to study trade (hint: the name "Robinson Crusoe economy" suggests it is meant to consider an isolated individual) and that it is used by International Trade economists. That is not the main use of the model. And the rest of the article, except for a single section, reflects that (most of the article is ok, it's the lede that's wacky). Then there was a bunch of stuff which tries to take the analogy literally (which I removed).

The body of the article is decent, but pretty thin.

 Volunteer Marek  21:36, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

In fact, the lede contradicts itself in numerous places.  Volunteer Marek  21:38, 2 January 2014 (UTC)