Provocative…eye-popping (New York Times Book Review: Inside the List)
Levitt employs statistical tools that are simple yet elegant. He cuts to the heart of a question and picks topics that are fascinating. All social scientists should ask themselves if the problems they are working on are as interesting or important as those in this superb work. (Los Angeles Times Book Review)
If Indiana Jones were an economist, he d be Steven Levitt... Mr. Levitt is famous not as a master of dry technical arcana but as a maverick treasure hunter who relies for success on his wit, pluck and disregard for conventional wisdom. Mr. Levitt s typical quarry is hidden not in some exotic locale but in a pile of data. His genius is to take a seemingly meaningless set of numbers, ferret out the telltale pattern and recognize what it means... Freakonomics reads like a detective novel... Economists, ever wary of devaluing their currency, tend to be stinting in their praise. I therefore tried hard to find something in this book that I could complain about. But I give up. Criticizing Freakonomics would be like criticizing a hot fudge sundae.... The cherry on top of the sundae is Mr. Levitt s co-author, Stephen Dubner, a journalist who clearly understands what he is writing about and explains it in prose that has you chuckling one minute and gasping in amazement the next. Mr. Dubner is a treasure of the rarest sort; we are fortunate that Mr. Levitt managed to find him. I think I detect a pattern. (Wall Street Journal)
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 lifefrom cheating and crime to sports and child-rearingand 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 incentiveshow 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 Klu 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, andif the right questions are askedis 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.Bonus material added to the revised and expanded 2006 edition.The original New York Times Magazine article about Steven D. Levitt by Stephen J. Dubner, which led to the creation of this book.Seven Freakonomics columns written for the New York Times Magazine, published between August 2005 and April 2006.