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Freakonomics [Hardcover]

Steven D. Levitt , Stephen J. Dubner
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 Oct 2006
Cult bestseller, new buzz word... Freakonomics is at the heart of everything we see and do and the subjects that bedevil us daily: from parenting to crime, sport to politics, fat to cheating, fear to traffic jams. Asking provocative and profound questions about human motivation and contemporary living and reaching some astonishing conclusions, Freakonomics will make you see the familiar world through a completely original lens.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company; Rev Exp edition (17 Oct 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061234001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061234002
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.4 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 757,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Steven Levitt, the man with 'the most interesting mind in America' (Malcolm Gladwell), is the rogue economist whose controversial ideas have caused a sensation on both sidea of the Atlantic. In Freakonomics he joins forces with Stephen Dubner, New York Times and New Yorker journalist and bestselling author of Turbulent Souls and Confessions of a Hero Worshiper, to create a gripping, revolutionary new take on the world. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting questions interestingly answered 30 Dec 2007
By Nicholas J. R. Dougan VINE VOICE
I ignored this book when it was first published, but turned to the revised version recently in the hope that it would give me some insight into mainstream economics, (having recently started a course in business economics). It hasn't been a great help for that purpose, but is a great - and easy - read all the same. I found it particularly illuminating to see how an economist looks beyond correlations to seek causation. For example, in what is probably his most controversial chapter, Levitt identifies the effective legalisation of abortion in the US in 1973 as being the cause of a fall in the crime rate 15 - 20 years later. Having established this correlation, and posited an explanation - access to abortion meant that a whole cohort of kids that would have been most likely to grow up to become criminals were not in fact born at all - he searches for ways to test it. He did so by looking at those states where abortion had already been legal, by establishing correlations between abortion rates and the subsequent fall in crime rates and by identifying that the fall in crime happened amongst the late teens rather than older age groups.

Levitt and Dubner were clearly aware of the potential distaste that this deduction might bring, but presented their findings clearly and courageously. Other areas of study include the identification of cheating teachers and Sumo wrestlers, the economics of dealing in crack cocaine and whether (pushy) parents can actively influence the success of their children. In many cases, however, and particularly while reading a chapter on parents' choice of names for their children, I did wonder whether the same conclusions would be made on the British side of the Atlantic.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Anti-conventional wisdom 18 Feb 2008
This is not only about economics, it is about common aspects of life, like crime and cheating. The book contains several examples of how a brilliant researcher was able to shed light on these issues. The author acts like a detective, with a bottom-up approach, relying on statistical data analysis, and often based on the role of incentives in human behaviour. The abortion case stands aside and is, in my view, revelatory. Although apparently based on a syllogism, the conclusion put forward by Levitt, regarding abortion and crime rates, is nevertheless very convincing. Other cases, like the names assigned to child by parents, are not extraordinarely fascinating, but the pattern is the same: find the explaining thread in human behaviour. A good book for students in economics and social sciences in general, a intruigueing reading for all. At the same time, there are many other good micro-economists and statisticians out there who have written papers or books using a similar approach, but who are not so notorious.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars one that stays 28 Mar 2009
It's been copied several times since but has fascinating case studies and causes reassessment of statistical data thrown at us. Great start for a non-statistician (me)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The cover says it all - a great book! 30 Oct 2007
First must state that this reviewer is not an economist, and usually find such books can often be boring. Must admit that this book kept me up far too late one recent weekend reading it through to the end. It was hard to put down.

Another reader/reviewer emailed me, noting that Malcolm Gladwell had said that Steven Levitt "has the most interesting mind in America," and since I had found Gladwell's "Blink!" hard to put down, I might find "Freakonomics" interesting. This was an understatement.

Then another friend loaned me a copy of the book, so I felt obligated to read it. Now I'll have to get my own copy, for it's worth a second read.

As noted above, the cover says it all. "Freakonomics" is not only humorous in places, it's fascinating, an out of the ordinary way of looking at economics for those who normally don't venture into what is often perceived as a boring subject. Like Gladwell's writing, this reviewer found this book to be a springboard to other ideas.

The authors define economics as "the study of incentives" early in the first chapter, which is not exactly as I remember the conventional definition from college courses. But maybe analyzing how to motivate people to do or not do a particular things is a better way or looking at the reality of economics.

"Freakonomics" was co-written by the noted journalist Stephen Dubner ("Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper"), and seems to have drawn as much criticism as it has received praise from reviewers and other commentators. The authors repeatedly state that there's no consistent theme. Others have noted that it appears to be an assembly of magazine articles and columns, edited and put together in an appealing but not particularly interrelated manner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Laughing Points. 31 July 2007
By maya j
'Freakonomics' is a witty, irreverent book for individuals who have never been and will never be Economics theorists. It's at once hilarious and serious about applying principles of Economics to real life scenarios, and it's just so much fun to read!

Let's start by saying, don't let the title scare you. I know most people pretty much despise anything to do with Economics, and anyone with a "respectable" connection to Economics would turn a nose up at this book. But with chapters like: The Ku Klux Klan and Real Estate Agents; Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers; and Drug Dealers Living with Their Moms- I mean how awful can it be? Steven D. Levitt teaches Economics at the University of Chicago, so he is absolutely qualified to make the relational comparisons he makes, thus actually giving we Economics neophytes something to chew on. In other words, if my Economics classes in college were like this, I might have actually learned something! But seriously, 'Freaknomics' delves into how things actually are all intertwined, no matter how absurd. It's premise is that conventionally held beliefs may not always be what they seem, and many things that seem wholly apart from each other are inter-related. Other than just laughing and enjoying the witty banter of the authors, I feel like I truly learned some things, and it gave me food for thought on other issues. The chapter entitled "A Roshanda by Any Other Name" was just pitch perfect, and the chapter on parenting makes you realize that we really don't need all those parenting books after all.

'Freakonomics' is deftly written for novices and easy to read, with each chapter being basically a lesson unto itself.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Was a present. came on time. have heard no adverse reports
Published 14 days ago by christine Taylor-Blackburn
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read
Makes you think about different perspectives or ways in our society. Even though their studies are mainly USA data-based, it gives you a broad idea on how our human world carry on.
Published 4 months ago by Adriana Vieira
3.0 out of 5 stars Good and cheap
The book arrived sixs weeks later, due to inmigrational isues as I live in Spain and the book was sent from USA. Read more
Published on 11 July 2010 by ananke
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the Bible.
"What is hidden shall be revealed".
Thats a phrase from the Bible I think, but as I haven't read it I'm not sure.
It sounds Biblical though. Read more
Published on 31 Mar 2008 by S. Forde
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun discussion for non-experts
Most of the contents of the book have been discussed in other reviews, so I won't repeat it. I got this book as a present and it isn't the sort of thing I would usually read, but... Read more
Published on 8 Mar 2008 by Andy Phillips
5.0 out of 5 stars Econimically enlightening
I am an economics student and theis book really helped me to get a good insight into economics. I loved the approch from a different angle to solve the scenarios in the book.
Published on 10 Oct 2007 by Jeff van Leeuwen
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't really get it
I'm afraid I didn't find this book terribly controversial, illuminating or, unfortunately, particularly interesting. Read more
Published on 2 Oct 2007 by Sir Barnabas
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