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Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (Revised Edition)
Freakonomics A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything - Revised Edition Author:Stephen J. Dubner, Steven D. Levitt 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 economist to ask. But Steven D. L... more »evitt is not a typical economist. He is a much-heralded scholar who studies the riddles of everyday life--from cheating and crime to sports and child-rearing--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-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 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 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 great deal of complexity 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.
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.« less
Roe v. Wade is partially responsible for the drop in crime in the 1990s. Having books in your house correlates positively to increased test scores for your children, but whether or not you read to them doesn't. Do these statements sound crazy? Well, they're both at least partially true, according to analyses presented in Freakonomics. The story I found the most interesting was how one of the authors caught which teachers were cheating on standardized tests in Chicago. Least interesting was the analysis of baby names (distinguishing between "high-end" and "low-end" names for boys and girls).
My only real complaint is that the book was too short! This revised edition does include some responses and further anecdotes collected from the Freakonomics blog, which beefs it up a bit, but I still wanted more. Additionally, I would have liked to see more actual economics content (i.e. a bit of mathematical explanation to enhance their arguments). For example, in the example of real estate agents trying to close a deal (not necessarily to their client's benefit), the concepts of a discount rate and/or opportunity costs would have enhanced the discussion greatly. Overall, definitely worth a read, and great for cocktail conversation.
I had several people recommend this book. I found it very difficult to read. I got the point very quickly and the lengthy explanations of scenarios seemed to drag on. The concepts are interesting and worthy but I found myself wanting to ask questions and debate some of the theories with the author rather than being intrigued about what he would come up with next.