Thursday, January 12, 2006


Is the rather surprising name of the book I am reading. Economics as I understand it lies on the bedrock that men are rational beings and take rational decisions.
I was recently introduced by a magazine article to Behavioral Economics , a branch of economics that adjusts for human tendencies to make decisions on certain intangibles.
Behavioral economics seeks to quantify that effect.
Freakomics the hugely popular book seems to be an effort in a similar direction that asks seemingly innocuous questions and provides astounding answers. I am not all the way thru yet, but here are my two favorite tid-bits.
By the early 90's street crime by disaffected youth with easy access to guns was a very serious matter. This lead to dire predictions from experts about a future full of violence and chaos. Then suddenly crime rates began to drop. So much so that murders in NYC dropped from 2,245 in 1990 to 596 in 2003. The author attributes it quite stunningly to the Roe vs Wade verdict that legalized abortion in 1973. His argument that legalized abortion prevented the birth of many unwanted babies who would otherwise have been born into (for the lack of a better politically correct term) 'adverse family environment', making it quite likely that they would exposed to violence and deprivation early in life and consequently take to crime when they were old enough. Wow! Take that Republicans.
The second one is funnily enough about on-line dating. The author comes up with the none to interesting discovery that most people lie about themselves in online profiles. A sobering fact that 57% of men who put up profiles do not get a single response, may be explained by the fact that men are expected to take the lead in the dating ritual. Schemes differ but most websites charge u to contact someone while placing a profile is free. So there, my own little observation, women are just not willing to go to the point of paying a fee to get a date.
But the observation that really takes the cake is as follows.
50% of white women and 80% of white men on dating websites indicate no racial preference. Of those who indicated no racial preference 90% of the e-mail queries by men were to white women. The women went one better, 97% of their queries were to white men. Hmm. Interesting indeed.

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