Thursday, June 22, 2023

SuperFreakonomics - Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

I’ve already talked about the first book of the series (Freakonomics) a few months back. In this new non fiction work the authors keep analyzing situations that apparently don’t have anything to do with economics, by using tools that are normally handled by economists.
The theme is still the same, only this time it is expanded, explained more in detail and displayed with new examples: human beings behave in response to incentives (positive or negative). Basically when we do or say something we are always trying to get some gain or avoid some loss, not necessarily tangible ones.The various chapters cover subjects such as the condition of Indian women, prostitution and real estate in Chicago, the assessment of the skills of hospital doctors, altruism vs apathy and selfishness, cheaper technological solutions to the problems posed by hurricanes and global warming (cheap as compared to the sums of money normally spent by governments and official organizations to deal with those issues).
I particularly loved the epilogue, about a lab experiment in which some scientists tried to teach a bunch of monkeys how to use money. In a few weeks the capuchins not only learned the principles of trading, inflation, investment and saving: they ended up gambling and staging a money heist, a prison break and a prostitution ring!
If you liked Freakonomics you gotta read this one as well.

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