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