For those of you too lazy busy to read the primary research, too lazy busy to read the book, the Freakonomics movie is here. Incentives matter seems to be the theme — schoolteachers correcting their student’s lousy tests to improve their scores, sumo wrasslers fixing their matches, real estate agents selling too soon at too low of a price due to a misaligned agency problem, it’s all here.
Of course, there is nothing particularly “freaky” about Freakonomics. Levitt has a theory, gathers evidence, and evaluates his hypotheses. His greatness stems on the one hand from identifying interesting problems and using data in ways no one has thought of before. In my own experience, his work on traffic safety and drunk driving are two sterling examples where he was able to exploit a data set that many, many people had been using for years in very novel and important ways.
Perhaps we can preview this during Schumptoberfest.™