Steven Levitt Presentation


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  • WOW! You did SO much research, and it was really thorough, Woogeon. I especially liked how you used graphs and first presented the questions that Levitt was trying to answer before you went into the details of his book.
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Steven Levitt Presentation

  1. 1. Steven D. Levitt “The Rogue Economist” Woogeon Kim H-Econ Period 4 - Gluck
  2. 2. Who is he?  Steven D. Levitt, 42, is an influential economist, who is most well known for his first book Freakonomics, co- authored with Stephen J. Dubner. /levitt/home.html  Recipient of the 2004 John Bates Clark Medal (given to the most influential economist under the age of 40)  Named one of the “100 People Who Shape Our World” by Time magazine  Co-author of the New York Times “Freakonomics Blog”  Currently holds the position as the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago  Director of the Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory at the University. m/titles/leadership-EH.php
  3. 3. The Questions He Tries to Answer  What motivates people and how do they get what they desire?  In Freakonomics, Levitt does not provide a list of economic principles and theories, but instead provides case studies to discuss patterns of behavior in relation to the study of economics.  Examples of case studies: relationship between abortion rates and crime rates.
  4. 4. “Economics is, at root, the study of incentives.” -Steven D. Levitt Levitt states that incentives ultimately should get people to “do more of a good thing” as opposed to “a bad thing.”
  5. 5. Levitt’s Case Study on Day Care Centers  The Problem: In Israel, many parents are neglecting day care policies and picking up their children after 4PM.  The Proposed Solution: Day care studies, participating in Levitt’s studies on behavior, instigated a system of fining tardy parents.  The Expected Result: The parents would arrive on time at 4PM to avoid being fined.  The Actual Result: The percentage of tardy parents shot up after the installation of the fine system.  The Conclusion: There is a need to divide up incentives into three main categories consisting of economic, social, and moral incentives. In this case, the moral incentive outweighed the economic.
  6. 6. His Most Controversial Work: “The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime” by Levitt and John Donohue ook/movabletype/mlm/paton_fig 1.JPG
  7. 7. Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime  Levitt’s Proposal: Data on the issue seems to confirm that legalization of abortion results in nearly half the reduction in crime that occurs.  Sociological Implications: The paper implied that “unwanted children” are much more likely to commit crimes as opposed to “wanted” children.  Controversy: Christopher Foote and Christopher Goetz issued in their report that many variables that affect crime rates that cannot be translated into data were ignored in Levitt and Donohue’s paper.
  8. 8. In Conclusion…  Levitt, continues to as important questions about the way we as a society behave through his studies on human behavior.  His next book, Superfreakonomics, will come out this October and include new studies on terrorism, prostititution, and global warming.  Malcom Gladwell stated that Levitt is the only “expert” he has met who seems like he would be willing to alter his beliefs if presented with convincing evidence and research.  Because of his continued radical case studies, Steven Levitt has often been called a “rogue economist.”
  9. 9. Works Cited "Abortion, crime and econometrics." The Economist (2005). Print.This article provides a critical analysis of Levitt and Donohue's paper on abortion in relation to crime rates. Dubner, Stephen J. "The Economist of Odd Questions Inside the Astonishingly Curious Mind of Steven D. Levitt." The New York Times Magazine 2003. Web. 22 Sept. 2009. <>.This article is an in-depth profile of Steven Levitt. Therefore it gives both a detailed and accessible description of Levitt's thoughts/principles while also giving a description of his character. Foote, Christopher L., and Christopher F. Goetz. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime: Comment." Working Papers (2008): 1- 33. Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Web. 27 Sept. 2009. <>. Gladwell, Malcom. "100 People Who Shape Our World: Steven Levitt." TIME. Time Inc., 30 Apr. 2006. Web. 22 Sept. 2009. <,9171,1186920,00.html>.This article is useful in that it provides a succinct analysis on the influence of Steven Levitt in the field of economics. It provides a possible focus/controlling idea for my paper in the way it clearly outlines what Steven Levitt has achieved. Levitt, Steven D., and Mark Duggan. "Winning Isn Everything: Corruption in Sumo Wrestling." The American Economic Review 92.5 (2002): 1594-605. The University of Chicago. Web. 22 Sept. 2009. <>.This article by Mark Duggan and Steven Levitt addresses behavioral patterns (decision making) in economics. Specifically it discusses the role that corruption holds in real-world economics through the case of sumo-wrestling and the prevalence of corruption throughout that field. Levitt, Steven D. "Juvenile Crime and Punishment." The Journal of Political Economy 106.6 (1998): 1156-185. JSTOR database. Web. 22 Sept. 2009. <>.Much of Steven Levitt's studies concentrate on the nature of politics and crime in relation to economics and sociology. This article is one where Steven Levitt discusses juvenile crime, using the case of juvenile crime as a medium to express his thoughts on crime and sociology. Although this article does not directly address Levitt's studies as an economist, the article does illustrate how much of what Levitt researches has a societal meaning. Simon, Scott. "'Freakonomics': Musings of a 'Rogue Economist'" PBS, 9 Apr. 2005. Web. 27 Sept. 2009. <>.This article discusses specific arguments Steven D. Levitt makes in his book "Freakonomics". "Steven D. Levitt." The University of Chicago, 2009. Web. 27 Sept. 2009. <>.Brief biography on Steven D. Levitt from the University of Chicago.
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