Book of the week: Freakonomics
Editor’s Note: Today Pasquines is inaugurating a new weekly series of posts, highlighting recommend books related to politics, policy, economics and Puerto Rico, in partnership with Amazon. We hope you enjoy our installments every Wednesday.
Imagine having the ability to understand the motivations of everyone around you. Imagine knowing not only what drives them to make certain decisions, but that you know how to predict, and at times manipulate, their behavior.
Now, imagine that there was a one-stop guide that could teach you how to do all of these things.
Economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner did exactly that in their 2005 book “Freakonomics” a book that focuses on what the authors call “the hidden side of everything.” In their work, Dubner and Levitt use behavioral economics to look at problems that most people don’t even realize exist. From the economics of drug dealing, to information control in the Ku Klux Klan, to the relationship between abortion and crime, no topic is too controversial, or too bizarre, for Dubner and Levitt to analyze.
In fact, one of the greatest things about “Freakonomics” is that it doesn’t read like a standard economics book at all — and that’s because it is not rooted in what many consider “standard” economic theory.
Behavioral economics is relatively new field, and serves to determine the social and psychological factors that influence individuals’ economic decisions. As such, the book is still relevant, despite being over a decade old. The issues addressed in “Freakonomics,” like systematic teacher cheating or corruption in sports, continue to permeate society, and are still driven by the same motivations.
“Freakonomics” is one of the rare instances in which academia and pop culture collide, resulting in a book that is as accessible as it is enthralling. The case studies Levitt and Dubner present are rooted in real life, and, as such, no prior knowledge of economics is needed on the reader’s part.
Since its publication, “Freakonomics” has sold over 7 million copies and has been distributed in 30 countries. The book was also adapted into a movie, and was followed by three sequels, “Super Freakonomics,” “Think Like a Freak” and “When To Rob a Bank.”
Dubner and Levitt also continue to release new case studies in their ongoing weekly radio program “Freakonomics Radio” and on their blog at Freakonomics.com.
All four of the books are available through Amazon for those interested in peeking behind the economic curtain and into the minds of their peers.