Monday, August 14, 2006


I finally read Freakonomics the fourth time!. As I have mentioned in my previous post, this title is an international bestseller. Levitt is an accomplished economist, and Dubner is a journalist. The title gives the impression that this is an economics book and you would be burdened with intepreting curves and lines. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Read the complete title carefully, it reads 'FREAKONOMICS- A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything' This book analyses some day to day phenomena in life which we tend to ignore. The authors have applied some statistical techniques to analyse some situations/happenings and that's about it of the Economics. (But then, statistical tools are used in studying genes as well, and that does not make genetics a subfield of Economics!). The only term from the field of economics is the the role of 'reward' on our actions and what are these rewards.

Example, what is the correlation between a lawsuit of the sixties to the sudden drop in crime rate in the nineties and what the patterns of names in different social and economic strata of US society.

On the other hand, the flow of the book is very good ( The economist could have done it, this is definitely the journalist!) and you do not realize how soon you reach the end of the book. Perhaps a little too abruptly. That seems to be a little dissapointing since you feel that there would be a grand finale,which never comes. Someone asked Levitt about his 'Unifying Theme' n the course of an interview at a very young age. Perhaps this book needs a unifying theme as well.

One good thing. For days after you finish reading this book, you are likely to try and analyse the 'hidden side' of daily happenings.However, do remember that it is said that the economists are known to be good at 'predicting the past'(or fitting the curve to the occasion), so do not expect to be much wiser!!!!!

I would classify this book as General Curiousity read, and if you are curious about the hidden side of some elements of our daily life, go ahead and read it.Am I going to read it a fifth time? Well, not anytime soon.

Disclaimer:Having said all this, I must confess I am not an economist by education or by profession, and the only time I studied 'Eco', I managed to scrape through!!

PS: There is much more on the book website at


Mayank Krishna said...

It is indeed a very readable book. But at a personal level I didn't find myself agreeing with every thing they said. Of course, many times I did agree, in fact majority of times ;-)

But one good thing about this book is that it has some hard facts to back the logic of any conclusion. The authors say that numbers don't lie. Well, I believe numbers are not always incarnation of raja Harishchandra :-)

Rajeev Venkitaraman said...

there is something about freakenomics which is a good graduate book from rich dad poor dad.. But I have to agree.. I read it first time.. I could not figure out what they heck he was trying to say.. I guess after reading your blog, I need to read it a couple of more times to figure it out..

Bharat said...

h, if you get a chance kindly also read book called "UnderCover Economist" and "The Long Tail".
Quite a beautiful book though.