Abortion leads to less crime

Jim Holt reviews Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, in the New York Times:

Levitt has strayed far from the customary paddock of the dismal science in search of interesting problems. How do parents of different races and classes choose names for their children? What sort of contestants on the TV show ”The Weakest Link” are most likely to be discriminated against by their fellow contestants? If crack dealers make so much money, why do they live with their moms? Such everyday riddles are fair game for the economist, Levitt contends, because their solution involves understanding how people react to incentives. His peers seem to agree. In 2003, Levitt was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal, bestowed every two years on the most accomplished American economist under 40…

The trivia alone is worth the cover price. Did you know that Ku Klux Klan members affixed a ”kl” to many words (thus two Klansmen would hold a ”klonversation” in the local ”klavern”) or that the secret Klan handshake was ”a left-handed, limp-wristed fish wiggle”? In the mid-1940’s, a Klan infiltrator began to feed such intelligence to writers for the radio show ”The Adventures of Superman,” who incorporated it into the plotline, thereby making the Klan look ridiculous in the eyes of the public and driving down its membership. Levitt uses the rise and fall of the K.K.K. to illustrate the power of hoarded information.

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