Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

( 692 )

Overview

Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? What kind of impact did Roe v. Wade have on violent crime?

These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much heralded scholar who studies the stuff and riddles of everyday ...
See more details below
Paperback
$12.12
BN.com price
(Save 28%)$16.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (126) from $1.99   
  • New (15) from $9.07   
  • Used (111) from $1.99   
Marketplace
BN.com

All Available Formats & Editions

Overview

Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? What kind of impact did Roe v. Wade have on violent crime?

These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much heralded scholar who studies the stuff and riddles of everyday life -- from cheating and crime to sports and child rearing -- and whose conclusions regularly turn the conventional wisdom on its head. He usually begins with a mountain of data and a simple, unasked question. Some of these questions concern life-and-death issues; others have an admittedly freakish quality. Thus the new field of study contained in this book: freakonomics.

Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and co-author Stephen J. Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives -- how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing. In Freakonomics, they set out to explore the hidden side of ... well, everything. The inner workings of a crack gang. The truth about real-estate agents. The myths of campaign finance. The telltale marks of a cheating schoolteacher. The secrets of the Ku Klux Klan.

What unites all these stories is a belief that the modern world, despite a surfeit of obfuscation, complication, and downright deceit, is not impenetrable, is not unknowable, and -- if the right questions are asked -- is even more intriguing than we think. All it takes is a new way of looking. Steven Levitt, through devilishly clever and clear-eyed thinking, shows how to see through all the clutter.

Freakonomics establishes this unconventional premise: If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work. It is true that readers of this book will be armed with enough riddles and stories to last a thousand cocktail parties. But Freakonomics can provide more than that. It will literally redefine the way we view the modern world.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Is this book's appeal due to its wacky revisionist title, its unsettling take on Roe v. Wade, or just its compulsively readable argument that economics does nothing more than study the incentives that drive us? Probably all of the above. What we do know is that it's the only economics book we've ever labeled a page-turner. An extraordinary work of social science explanation without oversimplification.
Great Reads - People
"Principles of economics are used to examine daily life in this fun read."
People: Great Reads
“Principles of economics are used to examine daily life in this fun read.”
Associated Press Staff
“An unconventional economist defies conventional wisdom.”
New York Times Book Review: Inside the List
“Provocative… eye-popping.”
People: Great Reads
“Principles of economics are used to examine daily life in this fun read.”
Jim Holt
Economists can seem a little arrogant at times. They have a set of techniques and habits of thought that they regard as more ''rigorous'' than those of other social scientists. When they are successful -- one thinks of Amartya Sen's important work on the causes of famines, or Gary Becker's theory of marriage and rational behavior -- the result gets called economics. It might appear presumptuous of Steven Levitt to see himself as an all-purpose intellectual detective, fit to take on whatever puzzle of human behavior grabs his fancy. But on the evidence of Freakonomics, the presumption is earned.
— The New York York Times
Publishers Weekly
Though the idea of listening to an economics text may bring to mind nightmarish visions of incomprehensible facts, figures and graphs, this audiobook is refreshingly accessible and engrossing. Journalist Dubner reads with just the right mix of enthusiasm and awe, revealing juicy morsels of wisdom on everything from what sumo wrestlers and teachers have in common (a propensity to cheat) to whether parents can really push their kids to greatness by buying them Baby Einstein toys and enlisting them in numerous before- and after-school activities (not really). The only section that doesn't translate well to the format is the final one on naming conventions. The lists of "White Girl Names" and "Black Girl Names," and "Low-End" names and "High-End" names can be mind-numbing, though the text that breaks up these lists will intrigue. Overall, however, these unusual investigations by Levitt, the "rogue" of the subtitle, make for meaty-and entertaining-listening. Simultaneous release with the Morrow hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 14). (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Economist Levitt and Dubner (Turbulent Souls) team up in this intriguing, quirky look at life and how to understand better the world in a new way. In 2003, the New York Times Magazine sent Dubner to do a profile of Levitt, and the idea for this book was born. Levitt looks at a variety of data, including KKK membership rolls, online dating services, and names for children, and finds in the math underlying answers to difficult questions that have a freakish quality. The quirky chapters include the commonality between schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers, why drug dealers still live with their mothers, and what makes a perfect parent. The crisp, bright narration by Dubner enlivens this title, which will appeal to fans of Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point as well as to economists. Recommended for university libraries supporting a business and economics curriculum and larger public libraries.-Dale Farris, Groves, TX Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Why do drug dealers live at home? Levitt (Economics/Univ. of Chicago) and Dubner (Confessions of a Hero Worshiper, 2003, etc.), who profiled Levitt for the New York Times, team up to demolish conventional wisdom. To call Levitt a "rogue economist" may be a tad hyperbolic. Certainly this epitome of antistyle ("his appearance is High Nerd: a plaid button-down shirt, nondescript khakis and a braided belt, brown sensible shoes") views the workaday world with different eyes; the young economist teases out meaning from juxtapositions that simply would not occur to other researchers. Consider this, for instance: in the mid-1990s, just when the Clinton administration projected it was about to skyrocket, crime in the U.S. fell markedly. And why? Because, Levitt hazarded a few years ago, of the emergent effects of the Roe v. Wade decision: legalized abortion prevented the births of millions of poor people who, beset by social adversity, were "much more likely than average to become criminals." The suggestion, Dubner writes, "managed to offend just about everyone," conservative and liberal alike, but it had high explanatory value. Levitt hasn't shied away from controversy in other realms, either, preferring to let the numbers speak for themselves: a young man named Jake will earn more job interviews than one with the same credentials named DeShawn; the TV game show The Weakest Link, like society as a whole, discriminates against the elderly and Hispanics; it is human nature to cheat, and the higher up in the organization a person rises, the more likely it is that he or she will cheat. Oh, yes, and street-level drug dealers live at home with their moms because they have to; most earn well belowminimum wage but accept the bad pay and dangerous conditions to get a shot at the big time, playing in what in effect is a tournament. "A crack gang works pretty much like the standard capitalist enterprise," Levitt and Dubner write, "you have to be near the top of the pyramid to make a big wage." An eye-opening, and most interesting, approach to the world.
Malcolm Gladwell
“Steven Levitt has the most interesting mind in America... Prepare to be dazzled.”
Kurt Andersen
“Freakonomics is politically incorrect in the best, most essential way.... This is bracing fun of the highest order.”
People: Great Reads
“Principles of economics are used to examine daily life in this fun read.”
New York Times Book Review: Inside the List
“Provocative… eye-popping.”
Business World
“An easy, funny read. Many unsolvable problems the Americans have could be solved with simple means.”
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Freakonomics was the ‘It’ book of 2005.”
Entertainment Weekly
“The funkiest study of statistical mechanics ever by a world-renowned economist... Eye-opening and sometimes eye-popping”
Book Sense Picks and Notables
“Freakonomics challenges conventional wisdom and makes for fun reading.”
Associated Press
“An unconventional economist defies conventional wisdom.”
San Diego Union-Tribune
“Levitt dissects complex real-world phenomena, e.g. baby-naming patterns and Sumo wrestling, with an economist’s laser.”
New York Times Book Review: Inside the List
“Provocative… eye-popping.”
Salon.com
“A showcase for Levitt’s intriguing explorations into a number of disparate topics…. There’s plenty of fun to be had.”
Wall Street Journal
“If Indiana Jones were an economist, he’d be Steven Levitt… Criticizing Freakonomics would be like criticizing a hot fudge sundae.”
New York Times Book Review
“The trivia alone is worth the cover price.”
Philadelphia Daily News
“Levitt is a number cruncher extraordinaire.”
The Daily Standard
“One of the decade’s most intelligent and provocative books.”
Washington Post Book World
“The guy is interesting!”
Financial Times
“Levitt is one of the most notorious economists of our age.”
Associated Press Staff
“An unconventional economist defies conventional wisdom.”
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060731335
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/25/2009
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 900
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 5.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven D. Levitt

Steven D. Levitt, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, was awarded the John Bates Clark medal, given to the most influential American economist under the age of forty. He is also a founder of The Greatest Good, which applies Freakonomics-style thinking to business and philanthropy.

Stephen J. Dubner is an award-winning author, journalist, and radio and TV personality. He quit his first career—as an almost-rock-star—to become a writer. He has worked for The New York Times and published three non-Freakonomics books. He lives with his family in New York City.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

What Do Schoolteachers
and Sumo Wrestlers
Have in Common?

Imagine for a moment that you are the manager of a day-care center. You have a clearly stated policy that children are supposed to be picked up by 4 p.m. But very often parents are late. The result: at day's end, you have some anxious children and at least one teacher who must wait around for the parents to arrive. What to do?

A pair of economists who heard of this dilemma -- it turned out to be a rather common one -- offered a solution: fine the tardy parents. Why, after all, should the day-care center take care of these kids for free?

The economists decided to test their solution by conducting a study of ten day-care centers in Haifa, Israel. The study lasted twenty weeks, but the fine was not introduced immediately. For the first four weeks, the economists simply kept track of the number of parents who came late; there were, on average, eight late pickups per week per day-care center. In the fifth week, the fine was enacted. It was announced that any parent arriving more than ten minutes late would pay $3 per child for each incident. The fee would be added to the parents' monthly bill, which was roughly $380.

After the fine was enacted, the number of late pickups promptly went ... up. Before long there were twenty late pickups per week, more than double the original average. The incentive had plainly backfired.

Economics is, at root, the study of incentives: how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing. Economists love incentives. They love to dream them up and enact them, study them and tinker with them. The typical economist believes the world has not yet invented a problem that he cannot fix if given a free hand to design the proper incentive scheme. His solution may not always be pretty -- it may involve coercion or exorbitant penalties or the violation of civil liberties -- but the original problem, rest assured, will be fixed. An incentive is a bullet, a lever, a key: an often tiny object with astonishing power to change a situation.

We all learn to respond to incentives, negative and positive, from the outset of life. If you toddle over to the hot stove and touch it, you burn a finger. But if you bring home straight A's from school, you get a new bike. If you are spotted picking your nose in class, you get ridiculed. But if you make the basketball team, you move up the social ladder. If you break curfew, you get grounded. But if you ace your SATs, you get to go to a good college. If you flunk out of law school, you have to go to work at your father's insurance company. But if you perform so well that a rival company comes calling, you become a vice president and no longer have to work for your father. If you become so excited about your new vice president job that you drive home at eighty mph, you get pulled over by the police and fined $100. But if you hit your sales projections and collect a year-end bonus, you not only aren't worried about the $100 ticket but can also afford to buy that Viking range you've always wanted -- and on which your toddler can now burn her own finger.

An incentive is simply a means of urging people to do more of a good thing and less of a bad thing. But most incentives don't come about organically. Someone -- an economist or a politician or a parent -- has to invent them. Your three-year-old eats all her vegetables for a week? She wins a trip to the toy store. A big steelmaker belches too much smoke into the air? The company is fined for each cubic foot of pollutants over the legal limit. Too many Americans aren't paying their share of income tax? It was the economist Milton Friedman who helped come up with a solution to this one: automatic tax withholding from employees' paychecks.

There are three basic flavors of incentive: economic, social, and moral. Very often a single incentive scheme will include all three varieties. Think about the anti-smoking campaign of recent years. The addition of a $3-per-pack "sin tax" is a strong economic incentive against buying cigarettes. The banning of cigarettes in restaurants and bars is a powerful social incentive. And when the U.S. government asserts that terrorists raise money by selling black-market cigarettes, that acts as a rather jarring moral incentive.

Some of the most compelling incentives yet invented have been put in place to deter crime. Considering this fact, it might be worthwhile to take a familiar question -- why is there so much crime in modern society? -- and stand it on its head: why isn't there a lot more crime?

After all, every one of us regularly passes up opportunities to maim, steal, and defraud. The chance of going to jail—thereby losing your job, your house, and your freedom, all of which are essentially economic penalties -- is certainly a strong incentive. But when it comes to crime, people also respond to moral incentives (they don't want to do something they consider wrong) and social incentives (they don't want to be seen by others as doing something wrong). For certain types of misbehavior, social incentives are terribly powerful. In an echo of Hester Prynne's scarlet letter, many American cities now fight prostitution with a "shaming" offensive, posting pictures of convicted johns (and prostitutes) on websites or on local-access television. Which is a more horrifying deterrent: a $500 fine for soliciting a prostitute or the thought of your friends and family ogling you on www.HookersAndJohns.com ...


The foregoing is excerpted from Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J Dubner. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction : the hidden side of everything 3
1 What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? 19
2 How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of real-estate agents? 55
3 Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? 89
4 Where have all the criminals gone? 117
5 What makes a perfect parent? 147
6 Perfect parenting, Part II; or : would a Roshanda by any other name smell as sweet? 179
Epilogue : two paths to Harvard 205
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Freakonomics Rev Ed
A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Chapter One

What Do Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers Have in Common?

Imagine for a moment that you are the manager of a day-care center. You have a clearly stated policy that children are supposed to be picked up by 4 P.M. But very often parents are late. The result: at day's end, you have some anxious children and at least one teacher who must wait around for the parents to arrive. What to do?

A pair of economists who heard of this dilemma—it turned out to be a rather common one—offered a solution: fine the tardy parents. Why, after all, should the day-care center take care of these kids for free?

The economists decided to test their solution by conducting a study of ten day-care centers in Haifa, Israel. The study lasted twenty weeks, but the fine was not introduced immediately. For the first four weeks, the economists simply kept track of the number of parents who came late; there were, on average, eight late pickups per week per day-care center. In the fifth week, the fine was enacted. It was announced that any parent arriving more than ten minutes late would pay $3 per child for each incident. The fee would be added to the parents' monthly bill, which was roughly $380.

After the fine was enacted, the number of late pickups promptly went . . . up. Before long there were twenty late pickups per week, more than double the original average. The incentive had plainly backfired.

Economics is, at root, the study of incentives: how people get what they want, or need, especially when other peoplewant or need the same thing. Economists love incentives. They love to dream them up and enact them, study them and tinker with them. The typical economist believes the world has not yet invented a problem that he cannot fix if given a free hand to design the proper incentive scheme. His solution may not always be pretty—it may involve coercion or exorbitant penalties or the violation of civil liberties—but the original problem, rest assured, will be fixed. An incentive is a bullet, a lever, a key: an often tiny object with astonishing power to change a situation.

We all learn to respond to incentives, negative and positive, from the outset of life. If you toddle over to the hot stove and touch it, you burn a finger. But if you bring home straight A's from school, you get a new bike. If you are spotted picking your nose in class, you get ridiculed. But if you make the basketball team, you move up the social ladder. If you break curfew, you get grounded. But if you ace your SATs, you get to go to a good college. If you flunk out of law school, you have to go to work at your father's insurance company. But if you perform so well that a rival company comes calling, you become a vice president and no longer have to work for your father. If you become so excited about your new vice president job that you drive home at eighty mph, you get pulled over by the police and fined $100. But if you hit your sales projections and collect a year-end bonus, you not only aren't worried about the $100 ticket but can also afford to buy that Viking range you've always wanted—and on which your toddler can now burn her own finger.

An incentive is simply a means of urging people to do more of a good thing and less of a bad thing. But most incentives don't come about organically. Someone—an economist or a politician or a parent—has to invent them. Your three-year-old eats all her vegetables for a week? She wins a trip to the toy store. A big steelmaker belches too much smoke into the air? The company is fined for each cubic foot of pollutants over the legal limit. Too many Americans aren't paying their share of income tax? It was the economist Milton Friedman who helped come up with a solution to this one: automatic tax withholding from employees' paychecks.

There are three basic flavors of incentive: economic, social, and moral. Very often a single incentive scheme will include all three varieties. Think about the anti-smoking campaign of recent years. The addition of a $3-per-pack "sin tax" is a strong economic incentive against buying cigarettes. The banning of cigarettes in restaurants and bars is a powerful social incentive. And when the U.S. government asserts that terrorists raise money by selling black-market cigarettes, that acts as a rather jarring moral incentive.

Some of the most compelling incentives yet invented have been put in place to deter crime. Considering this fact, it might be worthwhile to take a familiar question—why is there so much crime in modern society?—and stand it on its head: why isn't there a lot more crime?

After all, every one of us regularly passes up opportunities to maim, steal, and defraud. The chance of going to jail—thereby losing your job, your house, and your freedom, all of which are essentially economic penalties—is certainly a strong incentive. But when it comes to crime, people also respond to moral incentives (they don't want to do something they consider wrong) and social incentives (they don't want to be seen by others as doing something wrong). For certain types of misbehavior, social incentives are terribly powerful. In an echo of Hester Prynne's scarlet letter, many American cities now fight prostitution with a "shaming" offensive, posting pictures of convicted johns (and prostitutes) on websites or on local-access television. Which is a more horrifying deterrent: a $500 fine for soliciting a prostitute or the thought of your friends and family ogling you on www.HookersAndJohns.com?

So through a complicated, haphazard, and constantly readjusted web of economic, social, and moral incentives, modern society does its best to militate against crime. Some people would argue that we don't do a very good job. But . . .

Freakonomics Rev Ed
A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
. Copyright © by Steven Levitt. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

Interviews & Essays

A Message from the Coauthor

Steven Levitt doesn't think like you and me. (Well, I can't vouch for you, but I can vouch for me.) He has a brain that seems to hum along on its very own frequency. He can look at some scenario -- the rise and fall of crime, the real-estate market, the modern obsession with competitive parenting -- and instantly begin to ask questions, and come up with answers, that are simply astounding. In retrospect, you may scratch your head and say, "Why didn't I think of that?" This is what makes his work so intoxicating: He answers the questions we haven't yet figured out how to ask.

Yes, it's true that Levitt is an economist. But never before has the so-called dismal science been given a less dismal presentation. As Levitt sees it, economics is a science with excellent tools for gaining answers but a serious shortage of interesting questions. His particular gift is the ability to ask such questions. For instance: If drug dealers make so much money, why do they still live with their mothers? Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What really caused crime rates to plunge during the past decade? Do real-estate agents have their clients' best interests at heart? Why do black parents give their children names that may hurt their career prospects? Do schoolteachers cheat to meet high-stakes testing standards? Is sumo wrestling corrupt?

Levitt works with data, mountains of it, and from his data he teases out stories that are often surprising and may even make us uncomfortable, but which are most likely true. Several years ago, for instance, he wrote a paper linking Roe v. Wade with a drop in crime. His thinking went like this: the women most likely to seek an abortion in the wake of Roe v. Wade -- poor, single, or teenage mothers -- were the very women whose children, if born, have been shown most likely to become criminals. But since those children weren't born, crime began to decrease during the years they would have entered their criminal prime.

Unlike a politician or a theologian or a paid pundit, Levitt is free to come up with answers based on nothing more complicated than the truth. Morality, it could be argued, represents the way that people would like the world to work -- whereas economics represents how it actually does work. The modern world, despite a surfeit of obfuscation, complication, and downright deceit, is not impenetrable, is not unknowable, and -- if the right questions are asked -- is even more intriguing than one might think. All it takes is a new way of looking. Stephen J. Dubner
Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

About the Book

Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? What kind of impact did Roe v. Wade have on violent crime?

These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much-heralded young scholar who studies the riddles of everyday life -- from cheating and crime to sports and child-rearing -- and whose conclusions regularly turn the conventional wisdom on its head. He usually begins with a mountain of data and a simple, unasked question. Some of these questions concern life-and-death issues; others have an admittedly freakish quality. Thus the new field of study contained in this book: Freakonomics.

Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and co-author Stephen J. Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives -- how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing. In Freakonomics, they set out to explore the hidden side of ... well, everything. The inner workings of a crack gang. The truth about real-estate agents. The myths of campaign finance. The telltale marks of a cheating schoolteacher. The secrets of the Ku Klux Klan.

What unites all these stories is a belief that the modern world, despite a surfeit of obfuscation, complication, and downright deceit, is not impenetrable, is not unknowable, and - if the right questions are asked -- is even more intriguing than we think. All it takes is a new way of looking. Steven Levitt, through devilishly clever and clear-eyed thinking, shows how to see through all the clutter.

Freakonomics establishes this unconventional premise: if morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work. It is true that readers of this book will be armed with enough riddles and stories to last a thousand cocktail parties. But Freakonomics can provide more than that. It will literally redefine the way we view the modern world.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Most people think of economics as a dry subject matter concerning monetary and fiscal matters. How does Freakonomics change this definition?

  2. Freakonomics argues that morality represent the way we'd like the world to work, whereas economics can show how the world really does work. Do you agree?

  3. Freakonomics lists three varieties of incentives: social, moral, and financial. Can you think of others?

  4. Freakonomics shows how the conventional wisdom is often shoddily formed. What are some instances of conventional wisdom that you've always doubted?

  5. Does it seem as though "experts" truly hold too much power in the modern world, or are we lucky to have them?

  6. What are some issues in your daily life toward which you can apply some Freakonomics-style thinking?

  7. What were some of the most convincing arguments put forth in Freakonomics? What were some of the least convincing?

  8. How does the argument linking Roe v. Wade to a drop in crime change your thinking about abortion?

  9. How does the view of parenting in Freakonomics jibe with your own view?

  10. After reading Freakonomics, do you think that cheating is more prevalent or less prevalent than you thought it was before you read the book?

About the authors

Steven Levitt is a Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and an editor of The Journal of Political Economy. In January 2004 he was awarded the John Bates Clark medal -- for the economist under 40 who has made the greatest contribution to the discipline -- by the American Economic Association.

Stephen J. Dubner is the author of Confessions of a Hero Worshiper and Turbulent Souls and is a former writer and editor at the New York Times Magazine. He lives in New York City with his family.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 692 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(296)

4 Star

(255)

3 Star

(77)

2 Star

(34)

1 Star

(30)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 695 Customer Reviews
  • 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted January 4, 2013

    Worth it

    Great book

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 695 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)