FreakonomicsPaper - Katie Hunter ECO 211c April 4 2008...

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Katie Hunter ECO 211c April 4, 2008 Freakonomics : Learning to Understand and Analyze Social Issues During my semester at DePaul University in Chicago, IL I was enrolled in an online math course. One assignment involved reading an article called, “What Makes A Perfect Parent?” I am fairly confident that before I read the article I was not the only student who wondered, “What on earth does parenting have to do with math?” Since my grade depended on it, I read through the article. It was actually a chapter from a book written by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner titled Freakonomics . The article proceeded to answer my original question about the relativity between parenting and math. Well, to be honest, it had more to do with economics than math, but math is essential to many parts of economics, so it made sense. The book excerpt surprisingly kept my attention quite well. After Advanced Placement Economics in high school I wasn’t expecting to enjoy anything that had to do with economics, but this article took a different approach. It wasn’t about graphs, supply and demand curves, or marginal value. It used economics to delve into the question, “What makes a perfect parent?” Freakonomics is all about pressing social issues in America and analyzing them using economic thinking. It reveals that when someone really digs into an issue the right way, a whole new perspective is discovered and questions become answered. So what is this “new perspective?” The subtitle for Freakonomics is “A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.” The cover of the book features what looks like an apple, but the slice cut out of it reveals that the inside of this “apple” looks like an orange. A perfect illustration for the book. In the course objectives for my 1
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Katie Hunter ECO 211c April 4, 2008 Introduction to Economics class, the following aim is listed, “Economics should help you become more logical. You will learn how to come to certain conclusions by taking into account increasingly complex everyday circumstances.” Freakonomics alone helps to achieve this aim. In virtually every chapter I was introduced to a situation that seemingly made no sense at all. For example, in the first chapter titled “Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers” the authors cited an interesting scenario. An Israeli daycare was getting frustrated with the parents arriving late to pick up their children. After all, the teachers and daycare workers were essentially looking after these children for free after the pick-up time. So in an effort to deter late pick-ups, the daycare instituted a $3 fine for each instance. That seems to make sense. On the surface this would seem to work and lower the number of late pick-ups each week. But it actually had the reverse effect. Late pick-ups actually increased. This is where economics comes into play: figuring out why a fine would cause a rise in the number of late-pick ups at the daycare. Upon further investigation, the reason made a lot of sense.
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FreakonomicsPaper - Katie Hunter ECO 211c April 4 2008...

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