Freakonomics by by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dunbar Essay

Freakonomics by by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dunbar Essay

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“Freakonomics: A Rouge Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything”, is a best-selling book by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dunbar. Levitt describes the book as a effort to “strip away a layer or two from the surface of modern life and see what is happening underneath.” He does this by taking two seemingly unrelated events and associates them. From comparing teachers and sumo wrestlers, to inquiring why crack dealers still live with their mothers Levitt and Dunbar manage to successfully put a spin on conventional wisdom by looking at it through very different perspectives. Unlike most books this book has no central idea, in fact in the opening chapter Levitt makes clear that this is by design. The key concern was to make people challenge ideas and thoughts that are commonly believed to be true. One of the main fundamentals in this book is that “Incentives are the cornerstone of modern life”, and that the study of economics is the study of incentives: how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing. Freakonomics reveals how incentives, motivations and risks play a major role in every day occurrences in our society.
In Chapter one the authors ask “What Do Sumo Wrestlers and Teacher have in Common”. Levitt starts with a daycare, is leaving your children at daycare a few minutes longer than what you pay for cheating and would a fine on parents that did so stop parent from picking up kids late. One daycare thought that it would and imposed a fine. Instead of the late pickups dropping they soared. Levitt goes on to explain that this is because economic incentive did not compare to the counteracting moral incentive that was now removed. With the fine, parents were told that i...


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...ecause of what it says about the parents of the child. The final thing they noticed is that when a name becomes popular among the wealthy in about a decade it will no longer be popular among wealthy but popular among the middle-class and middle class names move down to lower class names. All in all the authors determine that the name doesn’t really matter that much.
Overall Freakemonomics was and easy to read, even for those people who don’t read a lot about economics. They are able to use the fundamental notions of economics to interpret just about everything in modern society. It incorporated all areas of economics in interesting ways and provided plenty of data to back up the authors ideas. Whether you agree or disagree with the authors have given plenty of unconventional ideas that will make you question what you have always considered conventional wisdom.



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