Unique, Freaky and Long-Winded

I’m not a business major, economically curious or even slightly inclined in that direction. But Freakonomics was presented as the book for me; a non-detail intensive look at curiously intertwined realistic situations. A combined effort between the ideas of award-winning economist Professor Steven D. Levitt and the pen of New York Times writer Stephen J. Dubner, the book jacket claims it “will literally redefine the way we view the modern world.” My interest was piqued.

207 pages of unique economic questions lay before me, but it was the introduction of the “characters” that I found addicting and refreshing. In truth I would probably enjoy Dubner’s New York Times Magazine article about Levitt more than I enjoyed their book. Levitt’s a curious individual, humble and extraordinary; Dubner is a skilled writer, intuitive about human nature and poetic in its’ portrayal.

From the beginning, I saw that Levitt’s ideas were unique. I mean, who thinks to connect legalizing abortion with a decrease in the crime rate? Certainly no one else I’ve heard about. Levitt’s theory is this: the women who appreciate abortion as a legalized option are primarily low income, less educated and low socioeconomic status. Children born into these conditions are much more likely to commit crimes (he gives statistics). Now, consider if these mothers can choose to not have these children and all the children statistically inclined to commit crimes are not born; ergo crime decreases. A brilliant idea. But really, a paragraph such as this is all that is necessary for me to appreciate it. Freakonomics continues the idea for five or so pages, five more pages than necessary.

I liked the idea, but felt they missed their mark. Trying to make economics interesting to the mass, business-uneducated population is a lofty goal. They gave it a heroic effort, but ultimately overshot by about 157 pages.

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