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  1. Presentation of PPR and Puma
  2. Presentation of the operation
  3. Decision and Executive Summary

Media and publishing success rare for a book dealing with economics, yet ?Freakonomics' has managed to do just that by highlighting the real issues that bring into perspective the very concept of "Economics" while drawing a very specific economic theory.
The first section of the document analyzes the epistemological approach of ?Freakonomics' that through the empirical study data seeks to destroy the prejudices of common sense and promote a culture of "evaluation".

Economics, for Levitt, is a set of tools and not a subject in itself: it can be applied to any subject involving deciphering by force of numbers. So in the second part, we will draw the consequences of this concept of economic science and in particular the approach to micro-economics suggested throughout the book, centered around two major concepts: incentives and information.

The empirical method:
The main concern of Levitt's research is to "scrape" the surface of the modern economic world, to discover the underlying mechanisms by which our life works. However, this "surface" is nothing more than "theory" (in the negative sense of "opinion", not in its scientific sense), in contrast to the book's "assessment". The latter depends not only on the figures that the economist must know, but also the ability to "ask the right questions."
This amounts to applying the powerful tools of experimental economics. The latter occupies a less marginal space in economic research: even if 20 years ago Paul Samuelson stated to that unlike the biologist, the economist "cannot afford to experiment ; the latest editions of his famous manual now recognizes it as part of economic orthodoxy.

To ask "good questions" Levitt uses of "natural" experiments (or more precisely "quasi-natural") and "controlled" experiments.

In the former, after an artificial change - such as the introduction of a lottery to determine schools in Chicago, the economist refers to a "treatment group" - children who "won" the draw and get to choose their schools - and a "control group" - children who lost the same draw that must be satisfied with a less prestigious institution ? and studies the academic achievement of the two groups hereafter. By examining the "double-difference" between the two groups, the economist can accurately assess the impact of a change.

Tags: Freakonomics, Experiential Economics, Economic Orthodoxy, Steven Levitt, Paul Samuelson

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