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Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything Paperback – 18 Jun 2007

3.9 out of 5 stars 423 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; 1 edition (18 Jun. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141019018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141019017
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (423 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Provocative. eye-popping." -- New York Times Book Review: Inside the List

"The trivia alone is worth the cover price." -- New York Times Book Review

"The guy is interesting!" -- Washington Post Book World

"Freakonomics was the 'It' book of 2005." -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"Levitt is a number cruncher extraordinaire." -- Philadelphia Daily News

"Hard to resist." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Levitt is a number cruncher extraordinaire."--Philadelphia Daily News

"Levitt dissects complex real-world phenomena, e.g. baby-naming patterns and Sumo wrestling, with an economist's laser."--San Diego Union-Tribune

"An eye-opening, and most interesting, approach to the world."--Kirkus Reviews

"The trivia alone is worth the cover price."--New York Times Book Review

"A showcase for Levitt's intriguing explorations into a number of disparate topics.... There's plenty of fun to be had."--Salon.com

"Freakonomics challenges conventional wisdom and makes for fun reading."--Book Sense Picks and Notables

"Economics is not widely considered to be one of the sexier sciences.... Steven D. Levitt will change some minds."--Amazon.com

"One of the decade's most intelligent and provocative books."--The Daily Standard

"An unconventional economist defies conventional wisdom."--Associated Press

"Hard to resist."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Steven Levitt has the most interesting mind in America... Prepare to be dazzled."--Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point

"The funkiest study of statistical mechanics ever by a world-renowned economist... Eye-opening and sometimes eye-popping"--Entertainment Weekly

"The guy is interesting!"--Washington Post Book World

"Levitt is one of the most notorious economists of our age."--Financial Times

"Freakonomics is politically incorrect in the best, most essential way.... This is bracing fun of the highest order."--Kurt Andersen, host of public radio's Studio 360 and author of Turn of the Century

"Principles of economics are used to examine daily life in this fun read."--People: Great Reads

"Provocative... eye-popping."--New York Times Book Review: Inside the List

"Freakonomics was the 'It' book of 2005."--Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"If Indiana Jones were an economist, he'd be Steven Levitt... Criticizing Freakonomics would be like criticizing a hot fudge sundae."--Wall Street Journal

"An easy, funny read. Many unsolvable problems the Americans have could be solved with simple means."--Business World

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)"

Freakonomics is politically incorrect in the best, most essential way.... This is bracing fun of the highest order. --Kurt Andersen, host of public radio's Studio 360 and author of Turn of the Century"

Freakonomics was the It book of 2005. --Fort Worth Star-Telegram"

An eye-opening, and most interesting, approach to the world. --Kirkus Reviews"

An unconventional economist defies conventional wisdom. --Associated Press"

A showcase for Levitt s intriguing explorations into a number of disparate topics . There s plenty of fun to be had. --Salon.com"

One of the decade s most intelligent and provocative books. --The Daily Standard"

Freakonomics challenges conventional wisdom and makes for fun reading. --Book Sense Picks and Notables"

The trivia alone is worth the cover price. --New York Times Book Review"

An easy, funny read. Many unsolvable problems the Americans have could be solved with simple means. --Business World"

Economics is not widely considered to be one of the sexier sciences.... Steven D. Levitt will change some minds. --Amazon.com" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

More Than 4 Million Copies Sold WorldwidePublished 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." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As mentioned at several points, this book is an expansion of a newspaper article that the authors wrote together. It is a very interesting gallop through new and sometimes extraordinary research by both the author and other new economists. The work on drug gangs is particularly good.
However, the book is quite short and the style of writing is US magazine-lite. As a bright introduction to some of the more surprising uses of economics and statistics, it's a very good, quick read but it's all over very quickly.
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Format: Paperback
This book does two important things - it challenges the reader to really think about the causes of things, and it makes modern economic thinking interesting and accessible to the mass audience. It's also a good, fun read, and for all these reasons it should be applauded.

In this book Steven Levitt develops ideas about a number of aspects of economic and social development which challenge received wisdom. He then both challenges traditional analyses, and offers solid support for his theories using detailed analysis of a number of unusual but highly reliable data sources.

For example, he attributes the dramatic fall of crime rates in the USA in the 1990s to greater access to abortion 20 years earlier, rather than traditional explanations like better policing. Drawing on a number of unimpeachable data sources he provides strong support for his hypothesis over more common ones.

Another fascinating chapter analyses the economics of drug dealing, and concludes that most crack dealers would be better off with regular minimum-wage jobs.

However, these are the high points, and towards the end the book starts to feel like the authors didn't have enough material for a 200 page book. There's a fair amount of repetition, and the later chapters start to feel a bit light. The last chapter, on trends in children's names, is really rather boring and tells us very little of interest.

This is a shame, because the core of the book is excellent. It will hold your interest, but don't expect a lot of pages for your money. Maybe the authors are genuinely very clever.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hmmm. A very *interesting* (in the sense of the Middle Eastern curse) kettle of fish.

I'm not sure what co-author Dubner's role is here - either to act as an alter ego for Levitt, allowing reproduction of fawning extracts from various newspaper articles written about Levitt throughout the book (as sole author Levitt wouldn't be able to get away with this without heaping hubris on his head), or perhaps to take the material he had from his original article and pad it out into a volume just fat enough (and no more) to justify publication as a hard-back, in which case Levitt had pretty much nothing to do with this book at all. I suspect a bit of both.

Most of the few points made in this book are, at best, only moderately interesting, and there are very few of them: Freakonomics doesn't even remotely live up to its billing, managing only to explore the hidden side of about five completely discrete, and only moderately interesting, topics (statistical evidence that there's cheating in Sumo Wrestling, anyone?) Indeed, the sumo cheating data wasn't especially compelling: it seems to me there is an entirely innocent explanation for wrestlers who have already "qualified" losing an abnormally large number of bouts to statistically weaker fighters who have not: a "qualified" wrestler simply has no incentive to try particularly hard, where as a non-qualifying wrestler does. That analysis doesn't involve any collusion at all.

Elsewhere, Levitt's theorems only really work where there are huge quantities of data covering all conceivable aspects of the topic at hand. Most of the time, this just isn't the case, which is why the hidden side of everything remains, even to Levitt and Dubner, hidden.
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Format: Paperback
'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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