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An unconventional journey to the further shores of economics,
This review is from: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (Hardcover)
The economist John Kay defines economics as the study of allocation of resources betwixt competing demands; Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman, in his youthful essay on the theory of intergalactic trade, described his essay as a serious work on a ridiculous subject, the very opposite of most economics papers. With Freakonomics, authors Kevitt and Dubner define it as the study of incentives and using this starting position, visit the strange, further shores of economics.
What the book is essentially about is applying unsentimental and hopefully objective methodology to facets of life that are not usually given to such study: the incentives at work when real estate agents sell their own houses as compared to selling other people's, how an urban crack gang is structured along corporate American principles (fans of television series The Wire should be particularly interested in that chapter), how much influence parents really have over young children's development. Some of this seems like it has the potential to be quite important, some of it seems pretty trivial (particularly the section on white / black / poor / rich children's names) but most of it is engaging, written as it is in a conversational style, though with a great respect for raw data.
Put the hyperbole of the glowing reviews ("Prepare to be dazzled" etc) to one side and authors Steven Levitt (economics lecturer at the University of Chicago) and Stephen Dubner (former New York Times Magazine editor) can fairly be said to have produced the most askew glance at the potential of a traditionally dry subject yet written. This is not an introduction to economics but an introduction to the possibilities of economics.