Book: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores The Hidden Side of Everything
Author(s): Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
"Freakonomics" has been in the back of my mind for a while now after hearing varying reviews from friends over the past few months. So, when I stumbled across it on a friend's bookshelf, I decided to give it a whirl and see for myself what everyone is talking about.
Levitt appeals to the shock value of comparisons in the effort of hooking the reader through chapter titles. It works; to an extent. While the claim that schoolteachers and sumu wrestlers are similarly motivated is intriguing, the meat of the chapter is not. And this quickly becomes a pattern. Peaked interest in the beginning, only to be followed by a disappointing lull.
Levitt does veer into the controversial with a exploration into the correlation between the legalization of abortion and a reduction of crime. His explanation: the majority of women choosing to have abortions are those who, for whatever reason, are not in a position to raise children. Forcing these women to bring these children into the world sets up a situation where they are not wanted, cannot be properly cared for and frequently sink into a life of crime. Levitt posits that women know their capabilities based on their situation. Had they been able to abort these children (whom they know they cannot care for), there would be less youngsters entering crime. This is a sensational statement and theory: few topics elicit such strong emotions as the abortion debate. Levitt does back his theory up with data that shows the the legalization of abortion coincides with reduction of crime nationwide. Alarmingly, it makes sense (intellectual sense, not emotional sense). While I understand what he is saying, I found myself angered by the theory. And sadly, that's the most emotionally involved I got throughout the entire book.
Overall it was mildly intrigued but never engrossed. Wouldn't recommend.