Steven D. Levitt teaches economics at the University of Chicago; Stephen J. Dubner writes for The New York Times and The New Yorker. Stephen met Steven while writing an article on this heralded young econmist. The result is this book.
Economics may be boring but when asking the right questions it becomes quite interesting. Like what is more dangerous a gun or a swimming pool ?
Consider the parents of an eight-year-old girl named, say, Molly. Her two best friends, Amy end Imani, each live nearby. Molly’s parents know that Amy’s parents keep a gun in their house, so they have forbidden Molly to play there. Instead, Molly spends a lot of time at Imani’s house, which has a swimming pool in the backyard. Molly’s parents feel good about having made such a smart choice to protect their daughter.
Unfortunately their choice isn’t smart. In a given year, there is one drowning of a child for every 11000 residential pools in the United States. (In a country with 6 million pools, this means that roughly 550 children under the age of ten drown each year.) Meanwhile, there is 1 child killed by a gun for every 1 million guns. (In a country with an estimated 200 millions guns, this means that roughly 175 children under ten die each year from guns.) The likelihood death by pool (1 in 11000) versus death by gun (1 in 1 million) isn’t even close : Molly is roughly 100 times more likely to die in a swimming accident at Imani’shouses that in gunplay at Amy’s.
Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. So the questions he asks lead to amazing answers.
What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common ? And why do drug dealers still live with their moms ? More on www.freakonomics.com .