Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

February 9, 2009
Freakonomics is a book about economics used in a freakish way. The authors are redefining economics and applying it to everything they can think of, uncovering some very unusual information along the way. This new definition is that economics is how people respond to incentives. Using this, they compare a number of things, such as schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers, drug dealers and McDonalds, and explains parenting. Although some of these topics can be very controversial, they are possible.

Using a set of data, Levitt can make a list of people who cheat, as well as explain why, he compares a drug dealing gang to McDonalds, and shows how information can be used to get the upper hand in real estate. He even walks you through the process of how he got his conclusion. Often this leads to more questions, but this is an interesting read nonetheless.

The very first thing mentioned in the introduction is a theory on how the crime rate in the 1990s dropped so suddenly: it was caused by legalized abortion. He admits that it is immoral to say so, but goes on to show that by the time the aborted babies would have reached their criminal peak, which is the 1990s, the crime rate fell. The next thing he mentions is real estate agents and what their real motives are. Does money really influence a campaign? Is there really any way to be a good parent? All these questions and more are just waiting to be answered.

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