Freakonomics

February 11, 2009
By
Freakonomics is a fascinating novel about rogue economist Steven Levitt, who explores non-traditional economic relationships that many economists don't consider. His application of economic theory applied to everyday life allows him to uncover various mysteries of modern society that would otherwise remain unsolved. Over the years, with the help of his unique approach and unconventional wisdom, Levitt has uncovered such mysteries as the drastic decrease in crime rate due to legalized abortion, how the Ku Klux Klan and real estate agents use information asymmetry to gain power over others, and even how Sumo wrestlers and teachers are related.

Levitt credits most of his findings to his unique ability to take data and figure out its pattern and then ask the right questions to solve the mystery. What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? What's more dangerous, a gun or a pool? Does the name of a child effect there outcome on life? While these questions may seem confusing and unimportant to most people, it's the kind of questions we see in the novel as Levitt reveals the truth behind the data.

One of Levitt's more interesting findings of the novel is the connection between legalized abortion and the drastic decrease in crime rates during the 1990's. Most experts claimed that better schooling and policing lowered the crime rate of the 1990's but Mr. Levitt gave credit to a different reason. He explains that once the Supreme Court ruled for the legalization of abortion, mothers now had the opportunity to get rid of their children. Most children who were aborted would have otherwise been born into a family with less opportunity and would be more likely to resort to criminal activities thus the connection to the decrease in crime rates.

Another fascinating discovery is that of the rigged sumo wrestler tournament. Levitt explains that in the league, a sumo wrestler must win at least 8 of his 15 tournaments to stay in the higher league. He found that a sumo wrestler with an 8 -6 score would most likely lose to a wrestler with 7-7 so that that wrestler may stay in the higher leagues. This is just one of the intriguing and unusual facts that are found in Freakonomics.
One of the best aspects of this book is how easy it is to read. It provides easy to understand information for the readers and presents the information in a way that's interesting and new to almost all readers. Also, the fact that most of the information has never been heard or read about before is something that appeals to that thousands of readers who get there hands on it. Unfortunately, one of the draw backs to the book is that only so much information can be crammed into it. It would take many volumes to provide all the information that Levitt has accumulated over the time.

Overall, this novel is without said, one of the greatest of its kind. It provides an unusual and interesting story for the reader to follow as well as insight into one of economies greatest and youngest minds. This book most certainly belongs on the New York Times best sellers list and should be considered for other non-fiction literary prizes. Steven Levitt is one of the brightest minds in the 20th century and the readers can soon be expecting a sequel to this one of a kind novel.





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