Published By Penguin Books
Published: June 2007
This was another spur of the moment buy. I really must stop doing that, at least until I have reduced my “to-be-read” pile. Having said that, I am glad I bought this. Economics is a topic I know absolutely nothing about, not a thing, so I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to follow the theories, let alone enjoy the content. The main thrust of the book demonstrates how society works on incentives and the author selects some quite strange topics to demonstrate how this principle can backfire. Topics covered include parenting, teachers cheating during SATs and sumo wrestling. Some of the data presented seems to me to be a little dubious, however Levitt argues an alternative point of view to the perceived current wisdom very well. Whether there is enough data to really back up what he is saying is another matter. In some ways though, this doesn’t matter in the slightest, as it is the way that his arguments are structured which intrigued me, rather than whether they are valid or not. Through this book I have learned a new way to question the world around me, and the behaviour of society and what drives us to do what we do.
Overall it’s an interesting read, but I would take the conclusions with a pinch of salt if you are an economics novice like me.