Jim’s #18: Freakonomics by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner

I have  a feeling Steven Levitt would be a really interesting guy to hang out with.  As a young, heralded economist from Harvard, Levitt looks at life in general a little differently.  He sees trends in every day life and then finds the most interesting correlations relating them together.  Maybe that’s the wrong word, as he does a very convincing job of advancing these relationships from mere correlation to justified cause and effect.

These aren’t just your everyday pairings, either.  Some of them are absolutely puzzling and really make you want to read on.  Things like, How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of Real Estate Agents? or Why Do Drug Dealers Still live with their Moms?  He looks at aspects of life that other economists have missed.

I particularly liked the way he framed each of the chapters together to tell a story.  From the criminal boost in the 90s via crack to the severe and unexpected decline (caused by Roe vs. Wade?  He makes quite the case for it) to parenting and whether or not it matters (it does, but not in the way you think).

I’m not a big economics buff, but I do like statistical analysis that explains why we do things (I guess that’s pretty much economics in a nutshell).  This was a fun read, and left me chuckling at how off our usual explanations for life are.

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