Steven Levitt, Freakonomics Co-Author
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 William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, where he directs the Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory.
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 were working on a sequel titled SuperFreakonomonics, which was published in 2009.
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):
- "Using Repeat Challengers to Estimate the Effect of Campaign Spending on Election Outcomes in the U.S. House." Journal of Political Economy, 1994, 102(4), pp. 777-798.
- "How Do Senators Vote? Disentangling the Role of Voter Preferences, Party Affiliation, and Senator Ideology." American Economic Review, 1996, 86(3), pp. 425-441.
- "The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence from Prison Overcrowding Litigation.". Quarterly Journal of Economics, 1996, 111(2), pp. 319-351.
- "The Impact of Federal Spending on House Election Outcomes." Journal of Political Economy, 1997. 105(1), pp. 30-53 (with Snyder, James. M, Jr.)
- "Juvenile Crime and Punishment." Journal of Political Economy, 1998, 106(December), pp. 1156-1185.
- "An Economic Analysis of a Drug-Selling Gang's Finances." Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2000, 115(3), pp. 755-89. (with Venkatesh, Sudhir A.).
- "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime." Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2001, 116(2), pp. 379-420. (with Donohue, John J., III).
- "How Dangerous Are Drinking Drivers?" Journal of Political Economy, 2001, 109(6), pp. 1198-237. (with Porter, Jack).
- "Winning Isn't Everything: Corruption in Sumo Wrestling." American Economic Review, 2002, 92(5), pp. 1594-605. (with Duggan, Mark).
- "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effects of Police on Crime: Reply." American Economic Review, 2002, 92(4), pp. 1244-50.
- "Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Predictors of Teacher Cheating" Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2003, 118(3), pp. 843-77. (with Jacob, Brian A.).
- "The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names." (PDF) Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2004, 119(3), pp. 767-805. (with Fryer, Roland G., Jr.)
- "Testing Theories Of Discrimination: Evidence From Weakest Link" (PDF). Journal of Law and Economics, 2004, 47 (2): 431.
- "Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors that Explain the Decline and Six that Do Not" (PDF). Journal of Economic Perspectives 18: 163-190. (2004)