I just finished Steven D Levitt’s and Stephen J Dubner’s sequel to the hugely popular Freakonomics — the title that started the flow of books on popularized economics. SuperFreakonomics touches on many subjects, describing interesting studies on things like altruism, suicide bombers and global warming.
First, let me state that I enjoyed the book. It contains plenty of good insights, and makes use of economic reasoning in a way that is often thought-provoking and inspiring. The anecdotes and studies are interesting, and the conclusions — as in Freakonomics — sometimes surprising and always different than the “mainstream view”.
Basically, if you enjoyed Freakonomics, you will enjoy SuperFreakonomics. It is essentially more of the same, which is not a bad thing. However, given the plethora of similar books on the market, it is not as surprising or fresh as Freakonomics was when it came out. Tim Harford and Steven Landsburg (and others) have written excellent books in the same vein, and I am starting to feel that the genre could do with some innovation.
The chapter that stands out is the one on global warming. It has gotten some critique from the religious part of the environmental movement for being overly skeptical — a critique I would argue misses its target. The authors take the problem seriously, but propose technological measures rather than political. It’s a much needed perspective. Perhaps I’ll come back to the issue in the future — it’s a topic that deserves a series of blog posts rather than a summary statement in this space.
In conclusion I’m happy to recommend the book, especially if you haven’t read too many books in the genre (or, like me, can not get enough of it!).