Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $5.03 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything Paperback – August 25, 2009
|New from||Used from|
There is a newer edition of this item:
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
“If Indiana Jones were an economist, he’d be Steven Levitt… Criticizing Freakonomics would be like criticizing a hot fudge sundae.” (Wall Street Journal)
“Provocative… eye-popping.” (New York Times Book Review: Inside the List)
“The guy is interesting!” (Washington Post Book World)
“The funkiest study of statistical mechanics ever by a world-renowned economist... Eye-opening and sometimes eye-popping” (Entertainment Weekly)
“Steven Levitt has the most interesting mind in America... Prepare to be dazzled.” (Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point)
“Principles of economics are used to examine daily life in this fun read.” (People: Great Reads)
“Levitt dissects complex real-world phenomena, e.g. baby-naming patterns and Sumo wrestling, with an economist’s laser.” (San Diego Union-Tribune)
“Levitt is a number cruncher extraordinaire.” (Philadelphia Daily News)
“Levitt is one of the most notorious economists of our age.” (Financial Times)
“Hard to resist.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
From the Back Cover
More Than 4 Million Copies Sold Worldwide
Published in 35 Languages
Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool?
What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?
How much do parents really matter?
These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He studies the riddles of everyday life—from cheating and crime to parenting and sports—and reaches conclusions that turn conventional wisdom on its head. Freakonomics is a groundbreaking collaboration between Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, an award-winning author and journalist. They set out to explore the inner workings of a crack gang, the truth about real estate agents, the secrets of the Ku Klux Klan, and much more. Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, they 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.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
It says on the cover that this book has been used as student literature for economics courses. This is interesting, since a friend of mine is an economics professor and she does indeed recommend this book to students - as the perfect example of how people lie with statistics.
Levitt demonstrates beautifully how one can come to false conclusions by seeing correlation and assuming cause. If you don't know what I mean, let me explain: Ice cream and rape are correlated. When ice cream sales go up, so does rape. With the kind of reasoning Levitt uses, this is solid proof that ice cream is a cause of rape. The truth is that hot weather increases both. Levitt cautions against assuming cause out of correlation in the beginning, then spends the entire rest of the book doing just that. It amazes me how little research he has done. An introductory biology textbook will tell you that his conclusions about genetics and intelligence are false, but he states it as fact after finding some economical correlation.
Much of this book is a presentation of correlations in society. This by itself is not a problem. However, the authors will often go on to explain that there is causation by coming up with unsubstantiated theories.
Fact: The increase in abortion rate is CORRELATED with a decrease in crime rate.
Authors' Theory: The increase in abortion rate CAUSED a decrease in crime rate because it eliminated potential criminals.
Fact: Highly educated parents are CORRELATED with a child's performance in school.
Authors' Theory: Highly educated parents CAUSE a child's improved performance in school because they value schooling and IQ's are hereditary.
It's not that the author's theories are necessarily wrong. It's simply that they provide no proof or research to support them. The book is basically an editorial.
When the authors do follow their own rule, it simply results in an uninteresting read. For example, the last chapter lists names such as "DeShawn" that are correlated with an unsuccessful life. The conclusion of the chapter is that the choice of name doesn't cause a child to be successful or not. Um, thanks for telling me that. I was planning on naming my child Bill Gates so he could become super rich but I guess that won't work.
On a positive note, the chapters regarding realtors and drug dealers did a good job showing how economics affects their behaviors.
I was expecting this book to be completely different. Most of it has nothing to do with economics at all. Instead, the book has more to do with statistics and revealing some correlations in our society. Unfortunately, many of these correlations could lead to dangerous misinterpretation and many are simply not all that interesting.
Update: I just finished reading The Undercover Economist, Naked Economics, and Basic Economics. These are the books you want to read if you are interested in how economics impacts the world and your everyday life.
But, there's more to it then just how names have changed over the generations. The authors look at the possibility that names can influence personal economics. In the late 50's and early 60's a man named Robert Lane named two of his sons Winner and Loser. Would, could those names influence their success in life, at least in the way that society judges success? Well, it was discovered that Winner didn't turn out to be a winner and Loser did. Winner Lane ended up with a long criminal record with over three dozen arrests. Loser graduated from college with an academic scholarship and is a sergeant in the New York Police Department.
Or there's the case of Temptress, a fifteen-year-old who has lived up to her name by being charged with ungovernable behavior which included bringing men to her home while her mother was at work. The Lanes and Temptress are African-Americans leading a black economist, Roland Fryer, to wonder if the distinctive black culture a cause of the economic disparity between blacks and whites or reflection of it?
Fryer studied the names of all babies born in California since 1961. The data showed how different whites and blacks named their children. More than 40% of the black girls born in California in a given year receive a name that not one of approximately 100,000 baby white girls received in the same year. Along with that data is economic information. Names have economics attached to them. Does this mean that a boy named DeShawn changed his name to Jake he would fare better financially? According to the authors, no. It's more of a matter of what kind of parents name their children what kind of names. Boy babies born of poor women are more likely to be named DeShawn rather than Jake. But, again, it's cause and effect. The names don't affect the economics, it's the other way around. A poor black mother is unlikely to name her child Brett, Connor, or Molly. A wealthy white mother is unlikely to name her child Ebony, Jazmine, or Marquis.
Does all of this have anything to do with education? I think so. As educators, do we have preconceived ideas about students entering our classrooms named Xavier, Juan, or Precious? Also, do we have different ideas about children before they enter our classrooms named Julia, Jonathan, and Andrew? Freakonomics's sixth chapter displays charts based on Fryer's research such as the most common white girl names among high-education parents, most common white girl names among low-education parents, the ten most common spellings of "Jazmine" (i.e. Jazmine, Jazmyne, Jazzmin, etc.).
All of this data will likely make you a bit more skeptical of the way data is interpreted and theories fed to us as fact by the "experts". The trick to most of the puzzles is simply asking the right questions. For example, can a black parent make some attempt to influence his or her child's future success in life by selecting a name off the high-education white list or could that name make it harder for a black child to fit in with his or her peers with such a "white" name? Would he or she be accused of being too white as children are when they do well in school in some neighborhoods. Often, the answers to Levitt's questions involve incentives. Freakonomics answers these questions and inspires the reader to look creatively in one's own life to find questions and answers.
It is a breezy, easy-to-read book, especially for one interested in economics. It's a fun book to read that offers enough trivia to keep audiences entertained at parties, gatherings, etc. The book reads like six short articles from a good magazine. I found it fascinating and wished it was longer or that a sequel will be written. I recommend the book to anyone that loves to read and be entertained.
Most recent customer reviews
Very lo-o-o-o-ong and slo-o-o-o-ow. My two 12 year-olds would say "OK, we get it!Read more
However, sometimes it is difficult to fully comprehend and differentiate between serious and not so serious subjects.Read more