Freakonomics Short Essay - Answer Key

Steven Levitt
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1. How were predictions about violent crime in the Nineties incorrect?

In the early to mid-1990s many experts predicted that violent crime, already at an all-time high, would skyrocket and perhaps double in ten years. In reality, violent crime dropped by almost half between 1995 and 2000.

2. What unorthodox theory do the authors offer regarding the drop in crime in the late 1990s?

Levitt and Dubner believe that the sudden drop in violent crime in the late Nineties is actually an effect of the passage of Roe v. Wade some twenty years earlier. They theorize that an entire generation of young people who would have come of age in squalor and desperation were never born as a result.

3. Why is a real estate agent inclined to keep her own house on the market longer than her client's?

A real estate agent's commission is six percent, but she will only see a quarter of that, since it is divided between two agents and their agencies. An agent, in this case, will take the first decent offer on a client's house because a slightly better offer yields only a minutely better commission. With her own house, however, she stands to take one-hundred percent of the sale and will wait for the best reasonable offer.

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