Freakonomics ePub Edition by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Click Here to Download 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? How did the legalization of abortion affect the rate of violent crime? These may not sound like typical questions for an econo-mist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much-heralded scholar who studies the riddles of everyday lifeâ€”from cheating and crime to sports and child-rearingâ€”and whose conclusions turn conventional wisdom on its head. Freakonomics is a groundbreaking collaboration between Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, an award-winning author and journalist. They usually begin with a mountain of data and a simple question. Some of these questions concern life-anddeath issues; others have an admittedly freakish quality. Thus the new field of study contained in this book: freakonomics.
Reviews Before Ariely, Along came Levitt and Dubner Economics is the study of how humans respond to incentives. That certainly wasn't what I was taught in high school or university, but it makes perfect sense now. Learning about supply, demand, tariffs and quotas are simply building blocks to analyzing public policy and implementing the best governmental programs to achieve one's goals, whether they be low unemployment, scientific advancement, low crime or simply the best possible price for your house in Maine. Game theory explains why sumo wrestlers and teachers have incentives to cheat (especially since their salaries and bonuses were tied to student performance). Fortunately, predictable and pedestrian methods of beating the system were quickly brought to light, sending the recidivism rate plummeting the following year. Similarly, when two sumo wrestlers face off, one might throw the match (hard to prove when the bout lasts under a minute) if doing so will save his opponent from dropping a rank (in the expectation of a reciprocal favor in the future). Why is the death penalty an ineffective deterrent for gang members? Mostly because many of them are drug dealers, and the average delay between conviction and execution is actually LONGER than their life expectancy dealing drugs and fighting turf wars. It's the classic high-risk high-reward scenario. They're willing to gamble their lives away for a chance to rise to the top of the heap, where millions of dollars and thousands of henchmen await. The KKK and real estate agents (both loathed by the general public) benefit from information secrecy (it is also why real estate prices rose when the Internet made comparisons quick and easy). This was my favorite chapter. The authors introduce us to the legendary Stetson Kennedy, who infiltrated the KKK in order to expose their illegal activities (among them, obtaining tax breaks despite paying out exorbitant salaries to their highranking members). Similarly, real estate agents can play buyers against one another (especially when two
parties are desperate for a house). This practice, known as gazumping, is unethical but not illegal in most places. At the other extreme, they will close a deal sooner than they would if they were selling their own house on the market. Diminishing returns mean that they will receive less additional money for the same amount of work. This shows that they will not usually work for the benefit of their clientele. The hot topic of abortion comes up as well. 12-15 years after Roe vs. Wade was decided, the crime rate in the US precipitously fell. Statistical analysis attributed over half of this fall to the availability of abortions. This adds an additional dimension to the pro-life/pro-choice debate, since it could easily be argued that abortions saved more lives than they took (if you assume that every embryo deserves full human rights). Preemptive arrests by mayors for jaywalking and turnstile-jumping hardly made a dent. This book will probably become part of the high school economic curriculum in the future. I hope it raises interest in social and financial economics, which will hopefully lead to a greater interest in the democratic process by all citizens.
FREAKONOMICS is a fascinating journey into the world of critical thinking. There are so many "ah-ha" moments in the book: some reinforces unexpressed ponderings within our own mind; others generate discomfort and discomfort. All challenge conventional "wisdom" and compel the reader to think critically and examine anew the major (and minor) issues of our time. Whether the authors consider the notion of perfect parenting, why drug dealers live with mommy, similarities between sumo wrestlers and schoolteachers, they present their information, research, methodology, and conclusions in an engaging manner. You may disagree with their approach. You may be repulsed by their conclusions. But you will look at all sorts of things in a new, different, and perhaps a more thoughtful manner upon reading this book.
My objective here is just to share my point that irrespective of the quality or accuracy of the content of the book (although personally I have no complaints on that front), this is a book definitely worth spending time on. A good testimony to that is the high frequency of reviews of this book, even though all of them are not favorable. So on to the quick summary: Freakonomics is less of a novel and more of a collection of quasi-scientific articles linked by the unconventional methods, or rather explorations, of a brilliant thinker - Levitt. Levitt's ideas, experiments and conclusions have been deservedly converted into a lucid and gripping narrative by Dubner. Levitt's answers to unconventional questions are genuinely eye-opening; forcing one to think long after the book has been put down. In short, a very good read.
Click Here to Download the Book