Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J Dubner

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Overview

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J Dubner

Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner offer the long-awaited paperback edition of Freakonomics, the runaway bestseller, including six Freakonomics columns from the New York Times Magazine and a Q & A with the authors.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060731335
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/25/2009
Series: P.S. Series
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 7,248
Product dimensions: 7.80(w) x 5.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

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 forty. He is also a founder of The Greatest Good, which applies Freakonomics-style thinking to business and philanthropy.

Stephen J. Dubner, an award-winning journalist and radio and TV personality, has worked for the New York Times and published three non-Freakonomics books. He is the host of Freakonomics Radio and Tell Me Something I Don't Know.


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 since taught English at Columbia, worked for The New York Times, and published three non-Freakonomics books.

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

Table of Contents

An Explanatory Note xxiii

In which the origins of this book are clarified.

Introduction: The Hidden Side of Everything 1

In which the book's central idea is set forth: namely, if morality represents how people would like the world to work, then economics shows how it actually does work.

Why the conventional wisdom is so often wrong

How "experts"—from crimnologists to real-estate agents to political scientists—bend the facts

Why knowing what to measure, and how to measure it, is the key to understanding modern life

What is "freakonomics," anyway?

Chapter 1 What Do Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers Have in Common? 15

In which we explore the beauty of incentives, as well as their dark side-cheating.

Who cheats? Just about everyone

How cheaters, cheat, and how to catch them

Stories from an Israeli day-care center

The sudden disappearance of seven millon American childern

Cheating schoolteachers in Chicago

Why cheating to lose is worse than cheating to win

Could sumo wrestling, the national sport of Japan, be corrupt?

What the Bagel Man saw: mankind may be more honest than we think

Chapter 2 How Is the Ku Klux Klan Like A Group of Real-Estate Agents? 51

In which it is argued that nothing is more powerful than information, especially when its power is abused.

Spilling the Ku Klux Klan's secrets

Why experts of every kind are in the perfect position to exploit you

The antidote to information abuse: the Internet

Why a new car is suddenly sorth so much less the moment it leaves the lot

Breaking the real-estate agent code: what "well maintained" really means

Is Trent Lott more racist than the average Weakest Linkcontestant?

What do online daters lie about?

Chapter 3 Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with Their Moms? 85

In which the conventional wisdom is often found to be a web of fabrication, self-interest, and convenience.

Why experts routinely make up statistics; the invention of chronic halitosis

How to ask a good question

Sudhir Venkatesh's long, strange trip into the crack den

Why prostitutes earn more than architects

What a drug dealer, a high-school quarterback, and an editorial assistant have in common

How the invention of crack cocaine mirrored the invention of nylon stocking

Was crack the worst thing to bit black Americans since Jim Crow?

Chapter 4 Where Have all the Criminals Gone? 115

In which the facts of crime are sorted out from the fictions.

What Nicolae Ceauşescu learned—the hard way—about abortion

Why the 1960s was a great time to be a criminal

Think the roaring 1990s economy put a crimp on crime? think again

Why capital punishment doesn't deter criminals

Do police actually lower crime rates?

Prisons, prisons everywhere

Seeing through the New York City police "miracle"

What is a gun, really?

Why early crack dealers were like Microsoft millionaires and later crack dealers were like Pets.com

The superpredator versus the senior citizen

Jane Roe, crime stopper: how the legalization of abortion changed every-thing.

Chapter 5 What Makes A Perfect Parent? 147

In which we ask, from a variety of angels, a pressing question: do parents really matter? 147

The conversion of parenting from an art to a science

Why parenting experts like to scare parents to death

Which is more dangerous: a gun or a swimming pool?

The economics of fear

Obsessive parents and the nature-nurture quagmire

Why a good school isn't as good as you might think

The black-white test gap and "acting white"

Eight things that make a child do better in school and eight that don't

Chapter 6 Perfect Parenting, Part II; or: Would a Roshanda By Any Other Name Smell As Sweet? 181

In which we weigh the importance of a parent's first official act-naming the baby.

A boy named Winner and his brother, Loser

The blackest names and the whitest names

The segregation of culture: why Seinfeld never made the top fifty among black viewers

If you have a really bad banem should you just change it?

High-end names and low-end names (and how one becomes the other)

Britney Spears: a symptom, not a cause

Is Aviva the next Madison?

What your parents were telling the world when they gave you your name.

Epilogue: Two Paths to Harvard 209

In which the dependability of data meets the randomness of life.

Bonus Matter 213

"The Probability That a Real-Estate Agent Is Cheating You..." 215

Selected "Freakonomics" Columns From The New York Times Magazine 233

A Q&A with the Authors 261

Notes 269

Acknowledgments 295

Index 297

What People are Saying About This

Kurt Andersen

“Freakonomics is politically incorrect in the best, most essential way.... This is bracing fun of the highest order.”

Malcolm Gladwell

“Steven Levitt has the most interesting mind in America... Prepare to be dazzled.”

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.

Interviews

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

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Freakonomics 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 754 reviews.
Book_SurferMC More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Sisskind More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
nima More than 1 year ago
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.
felius on LibraryThing 5 days ago
This is a book which aims to challenge "conventional wisdom". The idea is to use data to investigate interesting questions, especially where the answers to those questions are unexpected.It's a book about economics, but not about finance. Answering the questions asked in this book clearly involves a lot of maths, but the book is pretty much maths-free. However it does contain an extensive bibliography, so if you want the details you can easily find them.For me, a five-star book isn't necessarily one which is perfectly written, but one which grabs my attention in such a way that it stays in my mind long after I've moved on to other books. This is definitely a book which sticks in my mind.
tronella on LibraryThing 5 days ago
It was pretty interesting, although a little repetitive sometimes (re-explaining things that had already been explained in detail, etc.). I liked the chapter on names a lot, particularly the parts about which names it predicted would be most popular in 2015. However, the introduction had this whole part going "omg, he's an economist who isn't interested in the economy! amazement!". Pft. He's clearly a statistician who happened to take his first degree in economics.
waitingtoderail on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Very disappointing. A super-fast read (took me about 2 1/2 hours), and gives some fascinating examples, but there wasn't any THERE there. There were no real conclusions, no ah-ha! moments where the point of the book became clear, it's just a bunch of, "that's interesting" moments. This book will teach you no lessons about looking at economics or sociology in a different way, if you've taken even an introductory college level course in either of those subjects.I did NOT read the edition with bonus material, just to make that clear.
Noisy on LibraryThing 5 days ago
What is it - five days, now? - and I'm struggling to remember enough to write a decent review. (Just checked - it's only three days!) I can remember some of the salient economics lessons - guilt is more important than money in deterring unwanted behaviour; cheating pays, but only when you've already won; in a hierarchical organization, waiting to fill dead men's shoes is a mugs game - but I still know next to nothing about this supposed economics genius. I suppose that those lessons and the others are interesting, and most I have already gleaned through reading about evolution, but this book is just lightweight. Easy enough to read, and the episodic structure is acceptable (although the introduction gives too much away) but the impact is from the lessons not the writing. Afterwards, I tried to think about how to label it or to describe it a colleague, and I came up with a single word: journalism. OK, the idea came from an article in a magazine and the principal author is undoubtedly Dubner (the writer of the article) who collaborated with the economist (Levitt) in producing this work, but this is nothing more than an extended article - it's not a 'book'. Let me measure it against a couple of other 'books' by journalists. I haven't read too many for a solid base of comparison, but the books by Jeremy Clarkson are just collections of newspaper columns, and a book on the Falklands war was very good at laying out the facts but failed to deliver any sort of emotional impact. Check. No emotion or continuity. I'll also measure it against 'The Planets' by Dava Sobel. I actively disliked that book, but I've rated it the same as 'Freakonomics' because it was a 'book' with a theme and writing that wasn't 'journalistic'. For all I've got against it, it probably is worth the short read that it is. The lessons spelled out are valuable, if sometimes ambiguous, and there are a few people *cough* politicians *cough* who could learn something useful, but me - I was just disappointed.
ascapola on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Interesting points about the need to understand incentives and look beyond correlations to see causality. But ultimately rather disappointing in its breadth. There's a lot of repetitiveness too, but I liked the real estate agents, the 'cheating' teachers and the economics of the crack market.
defrog on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Fascinating thought exercises by economist Levitt, who applies economic tools to evaluate questions about how real estate agents work, why drug dealers live with their moms, why some kids do better than others in standardized tests, and (most controversially) whether Roe v Wade was responsible for the drop in crime in the 1990s. The upshot: so-called conventional wisdom is often wrong, and economics can reveal the truth of just about everything provided you have enough comprehensive data to work with. Admittedly, a lot of it is just playing with numbers, so no need to take his conclusions as gospel, but highly recommended if you want some tips on how to look at things in a different way. Too bad I got the one with the borderline racist cover.
Greatrakes on LibraryThing 5 days ago
This is a ragbag collection of articles on the real demography of America. An economist scoops up vast amounts of data and does regression analysis until he finds interesting or curious stuff. He especially likes it if it is counter-intuitive.How abortion has reduced the crime rate, and how dozens of other initiatives haven't, why drug dealers are so poor and why guns cause less harm to children than swimming pools.This is an entertaining book, but not completely satisfying, it has too much speculation of its own for my taste. I like the way he isolates the variables, in fact the statistics were more interesting to me than many of the uncovered facts and theories.
deargreenplace on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Best approached as a collection of separate essays, this is an interesting look at society and how things like crime figures can be interpreted.
name99 on LibraryThing 5 days ago
I've bemoaned the lack of decent popular social science books (apart from economics tracts). While this fits into this category and is not a bad book, it's not a great book either. I suspect that what irritated me so much about it is the fact that it's a chimera. While nominally written by Levitt, in fact the bulk of the writing was done by Stephen Dubner, a journalist who writes in the standard journalistic manner, rather more interested in creating hype than in shedding light. I'd really like to see more books in this category, so that one didn't have to rely on books like this, as flawed as it is.
yarnspinner on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Freakonomics is about an economics in everyday ordinary life. Written under an unusual angle this book is a curiosity in itself. Unorthodox, smart and full of humour, the Freakonomics is a pleasure to read.
Lisuebie on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Cute. Makes you think about things from a new perspective. More lightweight than I expected or hoped for. Shuckers.
GMac on LibraryThing 5 days ago
The author offers his view of how the economy really works, examining issues from cheating and crime to sports and child-rearing, offering a very different view on what drives the economy.
Niecierpek on LibraryThing 5 days ago
A manual on how not to fall into conventional wisdom trap. Interesting and, from time to time, very interesting. It is written in the _Tipping Point_, _Blink_, and _Wisdom of the Crowds_ trend and compares to them in all respects.
swadeson on LibraryThing 5 days ago
A good read that presents a very interesting perspective supported by analysing the numbers. Addresses areas that the politically correct of the world will not want to discuss. The best on is that the legalisation of abortion led to a drop in crime as less unwanted children came into the world. Hey George Dubbya, if you get your way on abortion you can expect crime to rise in about 17 years time!
armyofbobs on LibraryThing 5 days ago
A very fun read. Probably all crap - but the lesson of looking at things a little more carefully is a good one and it's amusing as hell.
pickoftheliterate on LibraryThing 5 days ago
As much as I enjoyed The Tipping Point, I¿d have to say that this book¿recommended by my next-door neighbor Raphael¿is as entertaining to read but much more convincing. It even refutes The Tipping Point¿s theory on why crime dropped in New York City in the 1990s. Although neither political party wants to go near this one due to the combustible nature of the topic, the authors¿a brilliant economist and a talented journalist¿provide a convincing argument that indicates that Roe versus Wade has the answer to that trend! When less unwanted children were born, less kids grew up to become criminals, basically.This is just one of a dizzying array of topics. They all revolve around questions that intrigued Levitt due to their counterintuitive nature. Why do so many drug dealers live with their mothers? What do baby names reveal about children¿s prospects for success, if anything? What do Sumo wrestlers and schoolteachers have in common?With these tantalizing chapter titles and engaging prose, it¿s even to be drawn in to those collection of essays. It¿s a quick read and great conversational subject matter.
randlejl on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Overall, not a bad book. Many of the pieces were reprinted in New York Times. Naked Economics was much better as overall review of economics.
piefuchs on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Fun, but too dumbed down, read. I would rather have read more on Leavitt's methods and have had the sections on the more serious chapters (such as the one on crime and parenting) extended and the ones on trivial matters (child names) thrown out. For that matter - Dubner could have been thrown out - let academics write academic texts which gain popularity because of subject matter not writing style.