Thursday, May 26, 2005

Review 1: Freakonomics

A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
by Stephen D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

If you're into this kind of books, you've probably already heard about this one or even read it.

But here's nevertheless my take on it: Being always intrigued as to why things happen the way they do or what the origins of social events or movements are, this was a very revealing and interesting book for me. And if you too like to look behind the curtain to see how our world and societies work, you'll be delighted!

The chapters of the book are self-explaining and just reading them made me curious:
- What do school teachers and Sumo wrestlers have in common?
- How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of real-estate agents?
- Why do drug dealers still live with their mom? etc

And of course the most controversial one:
- Where have all the criminals gone?

Controversial because the authors argue that the Roe vs Wade law (which legalized abortions in the US) is one of the main reasons the crime rate fell so dramatically in the early 1990s. And has more or less stayed at that level.

For all their chapters the authors have extensively analyzed huge amounts of data to detect the hidden patterns. So they can really backup their claims. Unlike many other people who pretend to have detected some 'spectacular' findings.

The only negative points would be:
- the title: It's not really about economics, it's rather about analyzing social data
- the volume: the 207 pages were not enough to satisfy my curiosity!! But luckily the authors have their own Freakonomics blog where they continuously present new 'freakonomic' examples :)

So I'd give the book a

Some informations on the authors: Stephen D. Levitt teaches economics at the University of Chicago and recently received the John Bates Clark Medal, awarded every 2 years to the best american economist under 40. Stephen J. Dubner writes for the New York Times and The New Yorker.

>buy the book<

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