Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Steven D. Levitt on Gang Economics

I'm kicking off a World Economics Series, with lectures and maybe even book reviews of the economists that have important things to say, or in some cases, who are influencing our view of politics and economy and world affairs.

I'll start with a funny one, that provokes thought about local economics. It is also a study of gang economics, previously posted at Ann T. Hathaway.
This is Steven Levitt,  author of Freakonomics and Super-Freakonomics. He talks about the local aspect of international drug trade. By explaining it as a business, he also shows us just exactly what barriers we face. He also maybe missed a few.
The video, like many I am contemplating, is produced by TED.com. I hope you enjoy.


I am not always a fan of the Freakonomics blog, but other times I think they have a great thing going.
Mr. Levitt and Mr. Dubner also have a Freakonomics Web site, with Study Guides to their books.
The Freakonomics books are readily available.

Sudhir Ventakesh is the graduate student Mr. Levitt refers to as doing the field work. He has also written extensively, and I will feature him in another post.

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6 comments:

Christopher said...

I enjoyed both Freakonomics books, if for nothing else, they start connecting dots the masses don't even begin to look for. Everything is connected, and sometimes in surprising and in non-intuitive ways. It's why I don't think public policy should be made simply on what a majority think, but what research shows.
I also believe that in many partisan debates, their is an answer that can satisfy both parties, if someone smart enough would just reframe the issue. Often times, both sides want (ultimately) the same thing, but because they want it for different political or philisophical reasons, it appears that they are diametrically opposed.
Ugghhh. Now I've got myself riled up. We just need to go back to a monarchy. I wear a size 7 1/4 for a crown. :)

Ann T. said...

Dear Christopher,
Oh, yes. This is why I started this Economics series. I keep hoping if we look at money, or in the larger sense, transactions, we will suspend the political bipolarity and go where we need to go.

Almost all of the political questions people yell about are economic questions. From my frame of reference, even the biggest problems for cities and law enforcement agencies are local shifts to world economic patterns: fuel, loss of manufacturing, public assistance models.

So I am damn riled myself.
As always, it is good to hear from you! Your perspective is unique, from the curb to the international relations studies. Many times I find you and I share a strong basis for agreement.

Sincerely,
Ann T.

the observer said...

Ann T:
The sociologist's book on his study of the gang is a great read. Thanks for reminding me about it.

...allegedly...ooh a stray "alleged" from the previous comment--let me catch it before it reproduces!

The Observer

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
I'm a little behind on my reading. I hope to read more of the Freakonomics, and all three of Sudhir Ventakesh's works--although-not all three right away.

Allegedly addictively yours,
Ann T.

Thanks for stopping by!

Slamdunk said...

I appreciate how Levitt has started debates on topics that were seemingly untouchable. Throw a concept out there with numbers to back it and see what happens.

Like his abortion and crime idea--though critics have dismantled that argument.

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
I had to look up the oops you referred to. He is a little facile I think in this lesson. For instance, the difference between being a drug dealer and a french-fry cook is status, flexible schedules, down time at work, able to see your kids, etc.

But at the same time, this lecture opens the door to new thinking. I don't see Freakonomics as a conclusion but a pathway to more scholarly or sincere efforts to look at the very things he brings up.

Ann T.