Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything is a fascinating book written by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt with facts and information that will make you think differently. The book debuted in 2005 and was so popular it made the New York Time's bestseller list.
This is a book for people of all ages. There are parts that kids will definitely understand and find entertaining, and sections that will make adults think. There are seven chapters that each explore a different issue.
One of the most remarkable chapters is the one about abortion and crime. The authors theorize that because the law before the 1970s made it illegal for mothers to have an abortion, their babies were "unwanted." The authors state that unwanted babies are more likely to grow up and become criminals. When the famous court decision Roe v. Wade made it legal for women to have abortions, there were fewer unwanted babies, and therefore fewer people to grow up and become criminals. This is why they theorize the crime rates dropped in the 1990s — all of the unwanted babies who would have been born in the 1970s if abortion was not made legal would have grown up to become criminals. Because abortion was legal, these babies were never born, and so there are now fewer criminals.
The chapter on babies' names is interesting. The authors analyze parents' name choices for their babies and describe what the name choices say about the parents. My name, Julia, was listed in the top five list of "Common White Girl Names Among Highly Educated Parents." It is fun to see if your name is on any of the lists.
Another section that caught my attention was about teachers and their students' standardized tests. In public school, kids take grade-level exams every year. However, the authors of this book noticed that some kids scored fabulously one year and miserably the next year. They found evidence that some teachers were changing their students' answers before submitting the tests for grading because they wanted their students to score higher. Teachers thought that if their students got higher scores, then it would prove they were better teachers. Actually, it falsely represented their students' knowledge and cost teachers their jobs.
Freakonomics is a fantastic book that everyone should read. It might seem like it is written for adults, but there are parts that kids could understand better than grown-ups. It is a good book to read with your family. It can lead to some intriguing discussions and debates. Pick up a copy of this book or borrow it from the library or a friend. You will not be disappointed.
Author: Julia Ransohoff, high school student writer
Reviewed by the Web Content
Committee of PAMF