Tags: crime/law/deviance, demography/population, economic sociology, education, causality, correlation, incentives, preferences, rational choice theory, 61+ mins
Access: no online access, YouTube preview
Summary: Freakonomics: The Movie is based on the 2004 best-selling book of the same name by journalist Stephen Dubner and economist Steven Levitt. The film is broken up into a number of short segments, all of which might be useful in a sociology course tackling rational choice theory or wrestling with the idea of causality. (1) "A Roshanda by Any Other Name" explores whether the name a child is given can be plausibly blamed for the child's successes or failures in life. (2) "Cheating" and (3) "Pure Corruption" examine how cheating in Chicago public schools and Japan's sumo wresting circuit can be explained by uncovering hidden incentives. (4) "Cause and Effect" succinctly and clearly illustrates the aphorism, "correlation is not causation." In (5) "It's Not Always a Wonderful Life," Steven Levitt offers a relatively detailed and multi-causal account of the drop in US crime rates beginning in the 1990s. According to Levitt, nearly half of the drop in crime can be explained by the unintended consequences of the Roe v. Wade decision by the United States Supreme Court. (6) "Incentives" explores how well intended incentives often lead people to act in unexpected ways, and finally, in (7) "Can a 9th Grader Be Bribed to Succeed?" we see Levitt and other researchers experiment with paying students cash incentives to improve their grades.
Thanks to Jessie Daniels for suggesting this film.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
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