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Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

In the 1990's all experts looked at the graphs and predicted catastrophic increase in juvenile crime. But when it didn't happen, and in fact halved, they came up with counter-explanations such as gun-control, better policing strategies etc. But authors reckon all due to the potential criminals who didn't get born following US Supreme Court decision Roe vs Wade 1973 which legalized abortion.

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When a woman doesn't want to have a child, she usually has a good reason. By 1980 1.6m abortions a year. 50% of them in poverty, 60% had no partner - the two main factors that most strongly predict the future criminal. 5 states legalized abortion at least 2 years before Roe, and their violent crime rates began to fall before the rest of the country.

Many people are keen on moral posturing, but need to replace with honest assessment of data. Morality represents way people would like the world to work, whereas (Freako-nomics represents how it actually works.

There are 3 types of incentives: economic, social and moral. Israeli child care centre having problem with parents picking kids up late, so instituted fines. But number of late pickups doubled. They'd replaced the moral incentive (guilt at breaking rules and inconveniencing staff) with an economic one.

If you give people a small financial reward for donating blood, they donate less. Turns an act of altruism into a painful way to earn a few dollars, and it's not worth it.

Cheating is primordial - we all want to get more for less.

In 1987, 7 million American children suddenly 'vanished' because IRS changed rules. (Parents had to provide Social Security number for each)

Involuntary experiment on white collar crime by an economist who got sick of his job and went into business delivering bagels. Found some surprising patterns. One company he delivered to 3 floors - management, sales and clerical. Found that the bosses' floor were the least honest, clerical the most. Postulated that management might have a sense of entitlement; authors suggested that might be because they got there by cheating.

Over the decade of the 1990's, the price of term life insurance in US fell by over a billion dollars, simply because of comparison sites on internet had forced companies to reduce their premiums.

Can now buy coffins over Internet, delivered overnight, without having to pay undertaker's premium. Can have painted ones - 'The Last Hole' for golfers, or hunting/motor racing etc or one of the cheaper ones the funeral director forgot to mention.

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Analyzed Internet dating sites. Predictable lies - too many men claiming $200K plus income; too many women claiming to weigh 20lbs less than the national average. For men. being short is a major disadvantage, for women, being overweight is. For women, a head of blond hair is worth the same as a college degree.

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Why do drug dealers still live with their mums? Apart from the few at the top, almost all the foot soldiers earn less than the minimum wage, (and ran big risk of death or prison). It's most dangerous job in America - a 1 in 4 chance of being killed, whereas if you're on Death Row in Texas, the killingist state in Us, you only have 1 in 15 chance of being executed. They do it because it's the only visible path to riches - all the legitimate routes to top are invisible.

More books on Work

Drug dealers are same as pretty girls going to Hollywood or potential sports stars trying to get to the top by putting in the training hours.
* should see it as a tournament with simple rules
* you start at the bottom to have a shot to get to the top
* you have to put in long hours at substandard wages
* you have to produce a conspicuously better performance
* 95% participants realize they'll never make top level, and quit the tournament

More books on Success

US has more guns than people. If you both own a gun and have a swimming pool in your backyard, the pool is 100x more likely to kill a child than the gun.

How much do parents really matter?
Clearly bad parenting overwhelms everything - kids neglected or abused have worse outcomes.

More books on Families

Judith Rich Harris The Nurture Assumption - a book so provocative it had 2 subtitles: "Why Children Turn Out The Way They Do" and "Parents Matter Less Than You Think and Peers Matter More"

Adopted kids do worse at school - academic achievement correlates with IQ of biological parent than IQ of adopted (and mothers who give up their kids tend to be significantly lower IQ)

It's not so much what what you do as a parent, it's who you are.

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