« The 32,000 who say “no convincing evidence” for human induced climate change | Main | Equality in the Age of Human Capital »

May 20, 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

J. K. Gayle

Freakonomics does indeed help reinterpret some of the conventional wisdom. But "shattering" is just some Steven D. Levitt hyperbole. It may just be plain hype, of his book, which is now three years old, and after three million copies sold, might just be experiencing a first-time slump in sales.

That kind of puts a different spin on economic inequities.

So in 2007, when the book was making Levitt richer than ever, do we remember the inequities for women authors? Would you mind too much if we look again at how really bad, unequal, women compared to men had it in 2007?


Applying two different sets of prices for purchasing power within the same society seems to me to demonstrate that inequality is extreme. Saying that poor people's purchasing power has increased because they are constrained to buy cheap goods, but that rich people's purchasing power has decreased because they have the luxury of buying anything they want (including expensive things) is a weak argument for decreasing inequality at best. At worst, it is nonsensical.

If rich people were somehow constrained from shopping at Wal-Mart, and could ONLY buy more expensive goods, they might have a point. However, the rich have gained substantial purchasing power, even if they choose not to exercise it by staying away from cheaper goods. This argument, at least as Levitt retells it, would not pass muster against an eighth grader with some critical thinking skills.

For example, if rich people, because their income has increased in the last decade, all bought more private jets, we might expect the prices of these jets to increase. No one in their right mind would argue that the increasing cost of a private jet negates the increases in income for the rich and that society is actually more equal or as equal as it was previously.

One thing you might be able to say is that the consumption choices people make have not changed much. This is a completely different, and much more cautious argument than the one the authors make, however.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Calmly Considered: Videocasts on Faith & Economics

Kruse Kronicle Series Indexes

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz

Kruse Kronicle on Kindle

Check It Out