Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything Summary

Stephen J. Dubner, Steven D. Levitt

Freakonomics Summary

Journalist Steven Levitt and economist Stephen Dubner have an innovative approach to economics. Citing studies by a wide variety of researchers, they argue that standardized tests give teachers incentive to cheat, that the KKK isn't really as powerful as it says it is, and that there's a direct correlation between legalized abortion and lower crime rates.

  • Levitt and Dubner make surprising connections between sumo-wrestlers and teachers, the KKK and real estate agents, and other unexpected pairings to show how economists can use statistics to explain interesting social phenomena.
  • Perhaps the most culturally relevant point Levitt and Dubner make in the book is that the decreasing crime rates of the 1990s can be traced back to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion. Fewer unwanted children leads to fewer criminals.
  • Levitt and Dubner spend two chapters focusing on socioeconomic issues involving class, race, and biology. Using years of education statistics, they conclude that students who are driven to succeed will do so regardless of the school they attend.
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(The entire section is 4020 words.)