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Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue…

Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden… (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Steven D. Levitt (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
21,792405107 (3.84)282
Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? What kind of impact did Roe v. Wade have on violent crime? These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask--but Levitt is not a typical economist. He studies the stuff and riddles of everyday life--from cheating and crime to sports and child rearing--and his conclusions regularly turn the conventional wisdom on its head. The authors 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. In this book, they set out to explore the hidden side of everything. If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work.--From publisher description.… (more)
Title:Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Authors:Steven D. Levitt (Author)
Info:William Morrow (2006), Edition: Revised & Expand, Roughcut, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt (2005)

  1. 182
    Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely (_Zoe_)
  2. 141
    SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by Steven D. Levitt (conceptDawg)
    conceptDawg: Similar content, same authors. If you liked one you'll like the other.
  3. 70
    The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor--and Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car by Tim Harford (waitingtoderail)
    waitingtoderail: A much better book than Freakonomics, as wide-ranging but not as scattershot.
  4. 40
    Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt (Percevan)
  5. 30
    More Sex Is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics by Steven E. Landsburg (Sandydog1)
  6. 30
    The Drunkard's Walk : How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow (wendelin39)
    wendelin39: awesome.. economics psych and even some puzzles revealing something about your brain in one
  7. 31
    Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt (vnovak)
  8. 54
    Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell (dste)
    dste: Another interesting book that looks at some ideas we think are right and turns them upside down.
  9. 32
    Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks by Ben Goldacre (Rynooo)
  10. 21
    Quirkology: The Curious Science Of Everyday Lives by Richard Wiseman (edwbaker)
  11. 00
    You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself by David McRaney (Sandydog1)
  12. 11
    The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas by Robert H. Frank (ljessen)
  13. 11
    Dollars and Sex: How Economics Influences Sex and Love by Marina Adshade (_Zoe_)
  14. 22
    The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies by Bryan Caplan (mercure)
    mercure: The freakonomics of democracy
  15. 11
    Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis (tcarter)
  16. 12
    Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler (espertus)
  17. 01
    Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--and Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport by Simon Kuper (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Freakonomics for football fans
  18. 12
    Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won by Tobias J. Moskowitz (browner56)
    browner56: Economists use the tools of the "dismal science"--both traditional and behavioral--to explain the pressing issues of the day, such as drug crime, school quality, and the home field advantage in football games.
  19. 12
    Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy by Carl Shapiro (infiniteletters)
  20. 01
    Rethink: The Surprising History of New Ideas by Steven Poole (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Unexpected perspectives on a range of topics

(see all 22 recommendations)


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» See also 282 mentions

English (392)  Spanish (5)  French (4)  Vietnamese (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (405)
Showing 1-5 of 392 (next | show all)
I liked this book -- he has an interesting view of why certain things happen (crime rates drop, certain kids do better in school than others, etc.) I like the way he tries to examine everything through an economist's lense. ( )
  rlsova | Oct 29, 2019 |
Well written and insightful. Using raw data and interesting stories, the authors manage to turn conventional wisdom on it's head in some cases. 4/5 and I would certainly read it again. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
The two authors each had half a book. Interesting books, but only halves. Fun, easy, interesting, overrated. Worth it for Orangejello. ( )
  Eoin | Jun 3, 2019 |
It took me years to get around to this book. The last time I saw the book in person was when it was confiscated from a classmate by a teacher in the 8th grade. I resent feeling obligated to do anything, but I felt obligated to read this book after studying economics as an undergraduate. I'm less interested in the content of the book than the trend it started.

The book is essentially a narrative explanation of some of Levitt's papers mixed in with some interesting illustrative anecdotes. Among the papers were ones on the pyramid scheme that is drug dealing, cheating teachers/sumo wrestlers, name analysis and data analysis on longitudinal studies of childhood education. Included are lengthy chapters on Levitt's famous crime paper along with the controversial thesis that abortion was the causal factor behind the crime drop of the 1990s. For anyone interested in the topics, I would suggest reading the original papers, which are as interesting as the popularization. Levitt is an impressive empirical economist by any means and his teasing out of various explanations is both creative and brilliant. The book is less brilliant or creative in my opinion, other than a clever way to make a lot of money. I thought the most interesting fact from the book was the fact that Levitt was had dinner with both Amartya Sen and Robert Nozick, and Nozick stood up for Levitt's lack of unifying theme. (There was also a pretty funny dig at John Lott, who the book accuses of posting under fake names reviewing Lott's own class). A point of minor annoyance, for book that disparages the blind confidence of experts, the book leaves little nuance and drops much controversy (mostly over the crime paper) though it's hard to tell if this is from Levitt or the reporter (or a clever use of a bad incentive?).

What's more interesting is the trend that the book represents and I also would venture to guess started. Levitt's work is an expansion of Becker's application of microeconomics to non-traditional fields such as race, family, and sociology (the imperial empirical field). This has contributed to the confusion of what economics is exactly (a conversation I've spent countless awkward minutes having), which the popular imagination usually associates with finance and explicit markets. This book itself probably contributed to the imperial march of economics (I would argue this is a good, but that's another conversation). I imagine that this is the book that spawned the countless imitations of popular nonfiction that sums up academic papers. I have no hard data on it, but I find it hard to imagine that books like Misbehaving and Predictably Irrational would exist without the runaway success of Freakonomics (part of some evidence that suggests this is the close association in the public mind between Levitt and behavioral economics despite the fact that Levitt is more in the mold of Becker).

( )
  vhl219 | Jun 1, 2019 |
It's like a Malcolm Gladwell book, but written by economists -- it's definitely got that asshole quality about it where they're like "we're just looking at the numbers! we're the only ones being REALISTIC!" as though all human experience can be simplified into numbers and incentives and the market (which I agree with to an extent, but not to the extent they do). Some of it's interesting and insightful, but some of it is questionable. I hear the sequel is significantly more questionable, which doesn't surprise me that much. ( )
  xiaomarlo | Apr 17, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 392 (next | show all)
Economists can seem a little arrogant at times. They have a set of techniques and habits of thought that they regard as more ''rigorous'' than those of other social scientists. When they are successful -- one thinks of Amartya Sen's important work on the causes of famines, or Gary Becker's theory of marriage and rational behavior -- the result gets called economics. It might appear presumptuous of Steven Levitt to see himself as an all-purpose intellectual detective, fit to take on whatever puzzle of human behavior grabs his fancy. But on the evidence of ''Freakonomics,'' the presumption is earned.
added by Shortride | editThe Economist (pay site) (May 12, 2005)
The book, unfortunately titled Freakonomics, is broken into six chapters, each posing a different social question. Levitt and Dubner answer them using empirical research and statistical analysis. And unlike academics who usually address these matters, they don't clutter the prose with a lot of caveats. They just show you the goods.
added by Shortride | editTime, Amanda Ripley (Apr 24, 2005)
Freakonomics is about unconventional wisdom, using the raw data of economics in imaginative ways to ask clever and diverting questions. Levitt even redefines his definition. If, as he says, economics is essentially about incentives and how people realise them, then economics is a prospecting tool, not a laboratory microscope.

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steven D. Levittprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dubner, Stephen J.Authormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Lindgren, StefanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seidenfaden, TøgerPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The most brilliant young economist in America—the one so deemed, at least, by a jury of his elders—brakes to a stop at a traffic light on Chicago's south side.
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