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Penguin books set to release Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner


This top ten bestseller has been described by the Observer as ‘A phenomenon’, and as ‘Non-stop fun’ by the Evening Standard. For the first time, both authors will be in the UK for publication

Why is a $100 hair dye job worth the same as a $100,000 education? Whose side is an estate agent on? Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? Why have crime rates really fallen?

These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But then, Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. Dubbed the Indiana Jones of economics, Levitt explores the hidden side of … well, everything: the inner workings of a crack gang, the truth about estate agents, the myths of election campaign finance, the telltale marks of a cheating schoolteacher, the secrets of the Ku Klux Klan. Faced with a mountain of data, Levitt’s gift is to look at things in a new way. In asking unusual – some might say freakish – questions, Levitt turns conventional wisdom on its head. Who would have thought that fining parents who pick their kids up late from nursery would actually increase lateness? Welcome to the world of Freakonomics ( ).

Through quirky stories and wry insight, Levitt and co-author Stephen J. Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives - how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want the same thing. We are often blinded by obscure and sometimes downright deceitful information, but Levitt and Dubner show how to see through the fog. So when the government tells us that crimes rates are falling, it may not necessarily be because they’ve put more police on the streets – perhaps it’s something to do with the legalisation of abortion over 20 years ago: fewer unwanted children who are statistically more likely to turn to crime…. All it takes is a new way of looking.

Readers of this book will be armed with enough riddles and stories to last a thousand cocktail parties. But Freakonomics ( ) can do more than that. It might even change how we view the modern world.

Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner will be available for interview.
For a review copy contact Preena Gadher on 020 7010 3466 or, or see the penguin website ( ) for further details.

The Authors
Steven D Levitt teaches economics at the University of Chicago and is editor of the Journal of Political Economy. His idiosyncratic economic research into areas as varied as guns and game shows has made headlines and triggered debate in the media and academic circles. He recently received the American Economic Association’s John Bates Clark Medal, which is awarded to the best economist under forty.

Stephen J. Dubner lives in New York City. He writes for The New York Times and the New Yorker, and is the bestselling author of Turbulent Souls and Confessions of a Hero Worshipper.


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