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Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Problem: Crime. Solution: Abortion. (Spoiler Alert)

My mother is an economics teacher, and ever since she discovered the book "Freakonomics", I've been hearing about its humorous studies that would make even me, like economics. In this book, the authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, redefine the whole purpose a...
My mother is an economics teacher, and ever since she discovered the book "Freakonomics", I've been hearing about its humorous studies that would make even me, like economics. In this book, the authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, redefine the whole purpose and study of economics. Instead of looking for the obvious and easiest answer, they dig deep and look for the less obvious, but plausible answer. Instead of giving the public the answer they want to hear, they give them the "ugly truth" something that has caused this book to be a huge success, but also controversial.
One study investigated how names can affect your opportunities in life. For example if you have a very obvious black sounding name, will it make you less successful? The authors tested this idea by sending out two sets of identical résumés. One set with a black name the other set with a white sounding name. The set of résumés with the black sounding name received fewer call-backs than the resumes that had obvious white sounding name. This is interesting because it shows how bigotry and racism are still alive in America today. And finally the most shocking study in the book is the one that correlates the drop in crime in the early 1990's to the passage of Roe vs. Wade in the 1970's. Legalized abortion, according to Levitt, is directly related to a drop in crime. Legalizing abortion made it easier for women, especially poor women, to obtain an abortion and prevent unwanted children from being born. Unwanted children have higher rates of truancy, do poorly in school, and are more likely to become criminals. Children of poor, uneducated, unwed teenage mothers are the most likely to grow up to become criminals. If these children are never born, then they cannot commit crimes. He compared states that legalized abortion before Roe vs. Wade and saw that those states crime rates decreased earlier than the rest of the nation. He also noted that states that not only legalized abortion but also made abortion less restrictive saw even greater drops in crime. Although this study may seem morally objectionable, it's difficult to argue with the data.
These studies, and many others that the authors did, are what captivated me while reading this book. I believe that anyone with a sense of humor will love the approach that Levitt takes to answer questions and analyze things that people would never consider. Personally, I think the book is amazing, and everyone should read it because it really makes you pause and think that the causes behind some things you hear are not always true. After reading "Freakonomics" I am now looking forward to taking some economics classes in college. This is a book everyone should read.

posted by Book_SurferMC on October 31, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

freakonomics

In the book Freakonomics written by Steven Levitt who is an economist who has a unique way of looking at the world, he explores “ the hidden side of everything” including the drop in crime in the 1990’s, he concludes the it had little to do with what everybody was think...
In the book Freakonomics written by Steven Levitt who is an economist who has a unique way of looking at the world, he explores “ the hidden side of everything” including the drop in crime in the 1990’s, he concludes the it had little to do with what everybody was thinking such as new police tactics, more police on the streets cracking down on crime, or even a better and stronger economy. He reveals that it all began 20 years earlier with one woman from Dallas named Norma McCorvey and that that it was actually her court case years earlier that caused the severe drop in crime: Roe vs. Wade, the court case that legalized abortion. He says that most mothers getting the abortions are low income young women, who would give birth to children who were most likely to become criminals. Since abortion became legal many of these potential criminals were not being born Therefore, creating less crime, hence the substantial drop in the crime rate.
He also explores how the no child left behind act can make teachers cheat by teaching to the test or even changing their students answers to benefit themselves. He also reveals the corruption involved in sumo wrestling. How good parenting has nothing to do with your parenting skills at all, and a name given at birth can determine your child’s future, he provides details of gang drug dealing and how it is almost like a franchise. The further up you are in the gang the more money you make, and everybody aspires to be on the board of directors. He describes how “foot soldiers” or street-salesmen make less than minimum wage and have a 1 in 4 chance of being killed, yet there is a waiting list to become one. He even explains corruption through a story about bagels. I enjoyed reading the book and I would recommend that others read it too.

posted by Allison_Peters on January 8, 2012

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  • Posted October 31, 2011

    Problem: Crime. Solution: Abortion. (Spoiler Alert)

    My mother is an economics teacher, and ever since she discovered the book "Freakonomics", I've been hearing about its humorous studies that would make even me, like economics. In this book, the authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, redefine the whole purpose and study of economics. Instead of looking for the obvious and easiest answer, they dig deep and look for the less obvious, but plausible answer. Instead of giving the public the answer they want to hear, they give them the "ugly truth" something that has caused this book to be a huge success, but also controversial.
    One study investigated how names can affect your opportunities in life. For example if you have a very obvious black sounding name, will it make you less successful? The authors tested this idea by sending out two sets of identical résumés. One set with a black name the other set with a white sounding name. The set of résumés with the black sounding name received fewer call-backs than the resumes that had obvious white sounding name. This is interesting because it shows how bigotry and racism are still alive in America today. And finally the most shocking study in the book is the one that correlates the drop in crime in the early 1990's to the passage of Roe vs. Wade in the 1970's. Legalized abortion, according to Levitt, is directly related to a drop in crime. Legalizing abortion made it easier for women, especially poor women, to obtain an abortion and prevent unwanted children from being born. Unwanted children have higher rates of truancy, do poorly in school, and are more likely to become criminals. Children of poor, uneducated, unwed teenage mothers are the most likely to grow up to become criminals. If these children are never born, then they cannot commit crimes. He compared states that legalized abortion before Roe vs. Wade and saw that those states crime rates decreased earlier than the rest of the nation. He also noted that states that not only legalized abortion but also made abortion less restrictive saw even greater drops in crime. Although this study may seem morally objectionable, it's difficult to argue with the data.
    These studies, and many others that the authors did, are what captivated me while reading this book. I believe that anyone with a sense of humor will love the approach that Levitt takes to answer questions and analyze things that people would never consider. Personally, I think the book is amazing, and everyone should read it because it really makes you pause and think that the causes behind some things you hear are not always true. After reading "Freakonomics" I am now looking forward to taking some economics classes in college. This is a book everyone should read.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2012

    Fascinating

    I thought this book was interesting and a fun reead. It offers a fresh perspective on a lot of topics that you wouldn't think are related. The book is fairly well-written, although the authors offer a bit too much detail at times. I liked that it had a practical side that you can apply in everyday life, such as requiring proof and being skeptical.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2012

    I was definitely surprised to find that this book was not so muc

    I was definitely surprised to find that this book was not so much about economics as it was about everyday life. Even though the book jumped from topic to topic, the connections were clearly stated, and I never felt like I was being overwhelmed with information. The authors did a good job catering to all reading levels, making it a good book for just about anyone. I am really glad that I chose to read this book for my economics class, and I know that I will never think the same way about anything again.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2012

    Prior to reading it, I expected a dull, pure mathematically focu

    Prior to reading it, I expected a dull, pure mathematically focused book. Nevertheless, the authors do a great job in combining their respective strengths into a best-seller non-fiction novel that conveys the statistics in a creative, friendly approach. If you have ever wondered what school teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common, or why two children in the same class share the same name, yet each come from a contrasting culture and financial background, then I recommend this book! -AJ Jimenez P.4

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 7, 2012

    Essential!

    i received this book as a gift when I was 17 and was completely obsessed with it. Five years later, I still consider it a favorite. Freakonomics shows the invisible hand at work while hilariously commentating on fascinating discoveries. I can't think of anyone who shouldn't read this book!

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 8, 2012

    freakonomics

    In the book Freakonomics written by Steven Levitt who is an economist who has a unique way of looking at the world, he explores “ the hidden side of everything” including the drop in crime in the 1990’s, he concludes the it had little to do with what everybody was thinking such as new police tactics, more police on the streets cracking down on crime, or even a better and stronger economy. He reveals that it all began 20 years earlier with one woman from Dallas named Norma McCorvey and that that it was actually her court case years earlier that caused the severe drop in crime: Roe vs. Wade, the court case that legalized abortion. He says that most mothers getting the abortions are low income young women, who would give birth to children who were most likely to become criminals. Since abortion became legal many of these potential criminals were not being born Therefore, creating less crime, hence the substantial drop in the crime rate.
    He also explores how the no child left behind act can make teachers cheat by teaching to the test or even changing their students answers to benefit themselves. He also reveals the corruption involved in sumo wrestling. How good parenting has nothing to do with your parenting skills at all, and a name given at birth can determine your child’s future, he provides details of gang drug dealing and how it is almost like a franchise. The further up you are in the gang the more money you make, and everybody aspires to be on the board of directors. He describes how “foot soldiers” or street-salesmen make less than minimum wage and have a 1 in 4 chance of being killed, yet there is a waiting list to become one. He even explains corruption through a story about bagels. I enjoyed reading the book and I would recommend that others read it too.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2009

    Fun and entertaining!

    It was a very interesting and fun book. Some of the information wasn't new to me but it was far from repetitive or boring!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 22, 2009

    Great book to read!

    When I first started reading this book, I didn't expect it to be good at all but after reading it more, I was surprised by the information the author provides the readers with. I thought I would be reading a book with mostly statistics and numbers about economy but it's the exact opposite.This book teaches you how incentives can affect people's behaviors and why people act the way they do.It also gives you interseting examples, such as teachers who cheated in order to win bonuses and how abortions caused crime rates to decreae. By reading this book,you will be able to understand more about the strategies that economists and real estate agents use in order to gain profits. Basically The authors relate random real life examples to economy. I would suggest everyone to read this book because it's interesting and informative.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2013

    Not completely understanding economics beforehand, Freakonomics

    Not completely understanding economics beforehand, Freakonomics was not
    only interesting and fun to read, but it also helped me to understand what exactly
    economics is by simplifying it for any age to understand and using relatable 
    examples. This book will help influence me to look at the world from a different
    perspective and the question everything and yet still search for the answers,
    which might be more hidden that one would first assume. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    Worth it

    Great book

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 12, 2012

    I really found this book to be great it was so enforming about t

    I really found this book to be great it was so enforming about the simple things in the world that has to deal with economics. I espically loved the section talking about Parenting and naming your child will effect your entire life. I never really believed all that could contributre to my up brining and my familys. The real estate was funny to me because I have someone in my family who is just like that in her own job when she sells homes to people.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2014

    YUK....

    I got this free. No Thanks.... Not the kind of book that I will ever read. I purchased the new Samsung Tablet, and this was given to me. (along with another book, that I won't read.) watch what you get for free. Who ever thought to provide me with these books must be crazy..or illiterate to pick this book out for so many customers. I would have liked to be able to choose my own books.

    again YUK. I will delete it from my library. I hope the people who wrote it, didn't get paid for it....

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 7, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting use of statistics, it makes you think.

    An interesting look at the causal relationship between what we might otherwise think are unrelated facts.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 23, 2014

    Interesting book - but rambling

    This guy is obviously brilliant - at least he thinks of angles that most of us would NEVER think of; then he figures out how to gather the data to validate it (whatever "it" is, often a pretty obscure question).

    It makes for fascinating reading, but he gets kind of carried away showing how the data prove, or disprove, his point. But, if you always keep in mind his main point that "incentives are everything", he certainly shows some obscure situations that prove this to be true.

    So, an interesting read, if you can skim the details of exactly how he went about proving his thesis, and concentrate on the bigger picture of "Gee, that's true, and they proved it (somehow)", or even "they proved it by looking at xxxxxxxx....)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2014

    I think this was a great read. Stephen Levitt's mission of makin

    I think this was a great read. Stephen Levitt's mission of making the reader view the world in a more critical and analytically way is achieved by the end. I thought the chapters about parenting started to get a little dry from to much data but that may be because I was not the target audience for that topic. The book blended economics, sociology, and psychology seamlessly. I would recommend the book to everyone.    

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2014

    I Love Statistics and Cause and Effect

    I get hooked on the why, then I get shocked as to the real reason why.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2014

    When I first opened up Freakonomics I didn¿t know what to expect

    When I first opened up Freakonomics I didn’t know what to expect. A friend had recommended it to me and I needed a book to read at the time. I had heard a lot of good things about this book, but I didn’t expect it to be so intriguing. Freakonomics shows us the hidden side of everything. By stripping down statistics and showing the reader some insane cause and effect relationships the author, Steven Levitt, gives us some incredible insight. Despite some seemingly complex relationships, Levitt makes it very easy for the reader to understand the connection. The book feels almost like a casual conversation where the author is simply talking to us and backing up his claims with fact. I recommend this book to people of all ages. The content can raise interest in teens and adults. Freakonomics is a page turner and a must read. I highly recommend it to anyone thinking of reading it.

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  • Posted May 19, 2014

    Not recommended

    This book is not what I thought it would be. I thought Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner were going to present a theory to explain variations in traditional supply and demand economics and back up the theory with examples and statistics. But this is not that type of book. Instead it is an anthology of Levitt's newspaper columns. This not the kind of book you read from beginning to end. It's the sort of book you dip into from time to time and read a column or two. Some of the columns are interesting, but others are dull.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2013

    Just as the title says Freakonomics will teach you about the hid

    Just as the title says Freakonomics will teach you about the hidden side of everything. From how cheating effects the economy to how a childs name can suggest the parent's socioeconomic status or predict their future. This book made me see economics in a whole new way and made me realize that digging deeper into the true value and meaning of things I encounter in everyday life will not only help me understand why the economy works the way it does but also how I can change my views on life in general. -Kristen T.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2013

    Freakonomics is da bomb! I really enjoyed reading it. It clears

    Freakonomics is da bomb! I really enjoyed reading it. It clears up some common misconceptions with many things in the world and is a really great read. I enjoyed the chapter about crack-dealing because it compared dealing crack to many other professions that we deem respectable; such as football players, actors, and McDonalds employees. Steven D Levitt ad Stephan J Dubner obviously did their research and the topics they went over. The chapters don't really have anything to do with one another but it makes this book unique and enjoyable for some. This book is pretty political but y'know, economics. What can I say? It's a great book 'n stuff. If you're too broke to buy it, you should at least pirate it. It's a bestseller, no one's gunna notice. I give i7 three thumbs up cause I can.

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