Book Review! Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

I had heard about the book “Freakonomics” for several years now but hadn’t gotten around to reading it until just a few weeks ago. The book is written by University of Chicago economist; Steven Levitt with the embellishments partnership of New York Times journalist; Stephen J. Dubner (presumably because the subject of economics is boring enough that a journalist has to make it all the more controversial exciting. lol (I tried.. to draw the line over sarcasm but I just couldn’t).

And oh boy! Is it ever controversial! I mean this is by far the most badass economics book I have ever read. “Freak”-onimics explores the most hidden side of the world that no data collector or economist dares to discuss. The book shows correlations between practices of information control by the Ku Klux Klan and real-estate agents (dam those real-estate agents and I was always told they were helpful when it comes to selling your house -_-).freakonomics

The book shows that apparently we are all cheaters when pressured enough by rules and regulations (not much of a surprise there). This behavioral cheating discovery is applied to; teachers, Sumo wrestlers to even a bagel shop and it’s customers. There you have it apparently nobody likes rules!

Most surprising discovery for me was the economics of drug dealing (Chapter 3) and that contrary to popular belief there is a surprisingly low-earning bracket there (at least on average).

And Finally, the socioeconomic patterns of naming your children (chapter 6, nominative determinism) shows that while some names clearly label you under a specific ethnic group overall naming doesn’t have a significant effect on the outcome of ones life.

Overall, I thought the book was an entertaining read and an easy one when it comes to economics. However, it was full and I mean FULL of embellishments, the statistics and data presented in many cases seemed a little far-fetched and not fully applicable to its intended argument.

Every chapter discussed a different subject area from cheating to crime and even abortion, which was a lot to take in but entertaining nonetheless. However, I missed the connection of economics in a lot of the book to me it seemed like it focused more on sociology and criminology more than economics. I say that because there were a lot of vague statements made without having any formulaic evidence to back it up (the very basics of economics).

Overall, I think this was a fun read but I wouldn’t bank on a lot of the statements made throughout the book. It was clear where and when the voice of the journalist overpowered that of the economist. And of course as most top seller and controversial books get a lot of publicity you can sure bet that there was a documentary made on this which you can checkout if you don’t feel like reading the book.

For any of you who have read the book, I am curious to know your perspective on this! Feel free to leave your comments!

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. alexraphael says:

    Have read this and the sequel. Really engaging writing style. So much controversy. The drug dealers one was probably my favourite. Brilliantly argued. The piece about why crime has gone down was the other one that stood out most to me. Shocking stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. parparvan says:

      Hey Alex! Yes!! the shock value was there for sure 🙂 I think it does help understand how we operate as humans in society. I am interested in reading the sequel, would you recommend it?

      Like

      1. alexraphael says:

        I preferred the first one but it’s still well worth a read. The prostitution chapter could easily could have gone in the first book.

        Like

  2. This sounds really interesting. It’s a shame that they have to jazz it up to make it popular, but i’ll probably give it a read anyway. Thanks for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. parparvan says:

      Thank you! Yes it is a bit of a shame but I guess books have to sell somehow especially if they are about economics. I really like your blog by the way! looking forward to your recommendations 🙂

      Like

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