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Super-freakonomics

Books 2012 in Review

Superfreakonomics

“the economic approach.” That’s a phrase made popular by Gary Becker, the longtime University of Chicago economist who was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1992.

Elephants, meanwhile, kill at least 200 people every year. So why aren’t we petrified of them? Probably because most of their victims live in places far from the world’s media centers.

In 1872, the earliest year for which such statistics are available, 21 percent of college students in the United States were female. Today, that number is 58 percent and rising.

There is one labor market women have always dominated: prostitution.

are women proud now?

Politicians have all sorts of reasons to pass all sorts of laws that, as well-meaning as they may be, fail to account for the way real people respond to real-world incentives.

while gender discrimination may be a minor contributor to the male-female wage differential, it is desire—or the lack thereof—that accounts for most of the wage gap.

babies that were in utero during Ramadan are more likely to exhibit developmental aftereffects.

To find out, the economist Alan Krueger combed through a Hezbollah newsletter called Al-Ahd (The Oath) and compiled biographical details on 129 dead shahids (martyrs). He then compared them with men from the same age bracket in the general populace of Lebanon. The terrorists, he found, were less likely to come from a poor family (28 percent versus 33 percent) and more likely to have at least a high-school education (47 percent versus 38 percent).

he just dubbed martyrs as terrorists!

A similar analysis of Palestinian suicide bombers by Claude Berrebi found that only 16 percent came from impoverished families, versus more than 30 percent of male Palestinians overall. More than 60 percent of the bombers, meanwhile, had gone beyond high school, versus 15 percent of the populace.

Others are far less so: “fish bone stuck in throat,”

So it may be that going to the hospital slightly increases your odds of surviving if you’ve got a serious problem but increases your odds of dying if you don’t.

some countries passed laws of “presumed consent” rather than requesting that a person donate his organs in the event of an accident, the state assumed the right to harvest his organs unless he or his family specifically opted out.

People are people, and they respond to incentives. They can nearly always be manipulated—for good or ill—if only you find the right levers.

and, eventually, a societal acceptance that wearing a seat belt wasn’t an insult to anyone’s driving ability.

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