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Interesting Questions in Freakonomics

Author

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  • John DiNardo

Abstract

Freakonomics is more about "entertainment" than it is a serious attempt at popularization. Consequently, rather than conduct a comprehensive fact check, I use the book as a springboard for a broader inquiry into social science research and take issue with the book's surprising premise that "Economics is a science with excellent tools for gaining answers but a serious shortage of interesting questions." Using examples from Freakonomics , I argue that some of the questions the book addresses are "uninteresting" because it is impossible to even imagine what a good answer would look like. I conclude with some thoughts about the role of economic theory in generating interesting questions and/or answers.

Suggested Citation

  • John DiNardo, 2007. "Interesting Questions in Freakonomics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(4), pages 973-1000, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:45:y:2007:i:4:p:973-1000
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jel.45.4.973
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Theodore J. Joyce, 2009. "Abortion and Crime: A Review," NBER Working Papers 15098, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie & Valentina Duque, 2017. "Childhood Circumstances and Adult Outcomes: Act II," NBER Working Papers 23017, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Buchmueller, Thomas C. & Johar, Meliyanni, 2015. "Obesity and health expenditures: Evidence from Australia," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 42-58.
    4. Peter Spiegler, 2012. "The unbearable lightness of the economics-made-fun genre," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 283-301, September.
    5. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie, 2011. "Killing Me Softly: The Fetal Origins Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 153-172, Summer.
    6. John Dinardo & Jason Winfree, 2010. "The Law Of Genius And Home Runs Refuted," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(1), pages 51-64, January.
    7. Robert Chernomas & Ian Hudson, 2013. "Steven Levitt on Abortion and Crime: Old Economics in New Bottles," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 72(3), pages 675-700, July.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists

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