Book review: SuperFreakonomics, by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner

The authors make economics fun, but they should have used their power to micro-investigate the City.

by Richard Reeves

They're back! Not many writing duos, let alone economists, could get away with putting this on their front cover. But then Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's first book, Freakonomics (2005), was no ordinary volume. An international bestseller packed with tales of statistical derring-do, it made stars of Levitt, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, and Dubner, a writer for the New Yorker and New York Times. Far from being the dismal science, in their hands economics is fun.

SuperFreakonomics is more of the same: colourful case studies, startling statistics and amusing anecdotes, all underpinned by a genuine desire to uncover the often inconvenient truth.

Levitt and Dubner's approach is distinguished by a reverence for real-world behaviour. They are sceptical about theoretical models, lab-based experiments and complex econometric reasoning. They lampoon their overly conceptual colleagues as people who say: 'Well, it may work in practice, but does it work in theory?'

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