Steven D. Levitt (Author) Steven D. Levitt, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, was awarded the John Bates Clark medal, given to the most influential American economist under the age of forty. He is also a founder of The Greatest Good, which applies Freakonomics-style thinking to business and philanthropy.Stephen J. Dubner (Author) Stephen J. Dubner is an award-winning author, journalist, and radio and TV personality. He quit his first career - as an almost-rock-star - to become a writer. He has worked for The New York Times and published three non-Freakonomics books. He lives with his family in New York City.
While drug dealers, violent criminals, and the Ku Klux Klan may be outside the purview of most economists, they fit quite comfortably into Levitt's world. The University of Chicago professor and Clark Medal winner (awarded to promising economists under 40) presents the commonplace and examines it more closely. Levitt cleverly shows us that schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have more in common than we think (both have been shown to cheat in various ways to further their interests). And he demonstrates how groups trusted by their constituents, like realtors and even the Ku Klux Klan, take advantage of information asymmetry to manipulate their respective "markets." This is also your best chance to wrestle with such metaphysical questions as why drug dealers still live with their mothers. Levitt has kindly forewarned us that there is no unifying theme behind his thought-he just sees things differently from his peers. Levitt's analysis and Dubner's (Turbulent Souls; Confessions of a Hero-Worshipper) fluid prose make this foray into freakonomics a recommended addition to public and academic library economics collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/05.]-Carol J. Elsen, Univ. of Wisconsin, Whitewater Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Forget your image of an economist as a crusty professor worried about fluctuating interest rates: Levitt focuses his attention on more intimate real-world issues, like whether reading to your baby will make her a better student. Recognition by fellow economists as one of the best young minds in his field led to a profile in the New York Times, written by Dubner, and that original article serves as a broad outline for an expanded look at Levitt's search for the hidden incentives behind all sorts of behavior. There isn't really a grand theory of everything here, except perhaps the suggestion that self-styled experts have a vested interest in promoting conventional wisdom even when it's wrong. Instead, Dubner and Levitt deconstruct everything from the organizational structure of drug-dealing gangs to baby-naming patterns. While some chapters might seem frivolous, others touch on more serious issues, including a detailed look at Levitt's controversial linkage between the legalization of abortion and a reduced crime rate two decades later. Underlying all these research subjects is a belief that complex phenomena can be understood if we find the right perspective. Levitt has a knack for making that principle relevant to our daily lives, which could make this book a hit. Malcolm Gladwell blurbs that Levitt has the most interesting mind in America, an invitation Gladwell's own substantial fan base will find hard to resist. 50-city radio campaign. (May 1) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.