Steven Levitt, an NSF Fellow from 1992 to 1994, is a prominent economist best known for co-authoring the 2005 bestseller Freakonomics (Freakonomics blog). He is currently the Alvin H. Baum Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, director of the Becker Center, co-editor of the Journal of Political Economy published by the University of Chicago Press.
Levitt and his co-author, Stephen Dubner, explored a variety of topics in Freakonomics using analyses of statistics databases. The popularity of this book has made him one of the most well known economists among laymen. It was announced in April 2007 that the two authors are working with Sudhir Venkatesh on a sequel tentatively titled Superfreakonomonics.
Levitt's other awards and honors include: named one of Time magazine’s "100 People Who Shape Our World" in 2006, named the Harry V. Roberts Statistical Advocate of the Year in 2006, the John Bates Clark Medal in 2003, the Garvin Prize in 2003, and the Duncan Black Prize in 2000.
Levitt’s work on various economic topics, including crime, politics, and sports, includes over sixty academic publications. In his most well-known and controversial paper, "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime (2001)," he demonstrates from statistics that the legalization of abortion in the United States was followed approximately sixteen years later by a reduction in crime. He then argues that unwanted children commit more crime. Next he claims that the legalization of abortion resulted in fewer unwanted children, and thus a reduction in crime as these children reached an age at which many criminals begin committing crimes.
Selected works (in chronological order):