Steven Levitt

Steven DavidSteveLevitt (born May 29, 1967) is an American economist Berninahaus for his work in the field of crime, met on the link tussen legalized abortion and crime rates . Winner of the 2003 John Bates Clark Medal , he is Currently the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago , director of the Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business . He was co-editor of the Journal of Political Economy published by the University of Chicago Press Until January 2007. He co-authored the best-selling book Freakonomics (2005) and its sequels SuperFreakonomics (2009) and Think Like a Freak (2014) . In 2009, Levitt co-founded TGG Group , a business and philanthropy consulting company. [2] He was Chosen as one of Time magazine’s “100 People Who Shape Our World” in 2006. [3] A 2011 survey of economics professors named Levitt hun fourth favorite living economist under the age of 60, after Paul Krugman , Greg Mankiw and Daron Acemoglu . [4]


Levitt was born to a Jewish family in new Orleans [5] in 1967, and attended St. Paul Academy and Summit School in St. Paul, Minnesota . He graduated from Harvard University in 1989 with his BA in economics summa cum laude , and-then worked as a consultant at Corporate Decisions, Inc. (CDI) in Boston Advising Fortune 500 companies. He RECEIVED his Ph.D. in economics from MIT in 1994. He is Currently the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor and the director of The Becker Center on Price Theory [6] at the University of Chicago . In 2003 he was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal , Awarded everytime two years by the American Economic Association to the most Promising US economist under the age of 40. In April 2005, Levitt published his first book, Freakonomics (coauthored with Stephen J. Dubner ) which became a New York Times bestseller . Levitt and Dubner ook started a blog devoted to Freakonomics. [7]


His work on verschillende economics topics, zoals crime , politics and sports , of includes over 60 academic publications. For example, his An Economic Analysis of a Drug-Selling Gang’s Finances (2000) analyzers a hand-written “accounting” or a criminal way, and draws Conclusions about the income distribution onder course members. In his must well-known and controversial paper ( The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime (2001), co-authored with John Donohue ), he shows therein the legalization of abortion in the US was Followed ongeveer eighteen years later to a reduction in crime , dan dat argues unwanted children commit more crime dan wanted children and therein the legalization of abortion resulted in fewer unwanted children, and THUS a reduction in crime as synthesis children reached the age at welke many criminals start committing crimes.


Among other papers, Levitt’s work on Crime of includes Examination of the effects of prison population, police hiring, availability or LoJack anti-theft devices and legal status of abortion on crime rates.

The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime

See The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime for a detailed discussion of the issue.

Revisiting a question first studied empirically in the 1960s, Donohue and Levitt argue dat the legalization of abortion kan account for almost half of the reduction in crime witnessed in the 1990s. This paper has sparked much controversy, to welke Levitt has zegt

“The numbers we’re talking about, in terms of crime, are absolutely trivial als you compare it to the broader debate on abortion. From a pro-life view of the world: If abortion is murder-then we harbor a million Murders a year through abortion. and the few thousand homicides therein will be prevented volgens to our analysis are just nothing-they ‘are a pebble in the ocean relative to the tragedy therein is abortion. So my own view, als we [did] the study and it hasnt changed is therein: our study arnt not change anybody’s opinion about abortion Whether arnt be legal and Easily available or not. It’s really a study about crime, not abortion. ” [8]

In 2003, Theodore Joyce argued dat legalized abortion had little impact on crime, contradicting Donohue and Levitt’s results ( “Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?” Journal of Human Resources, 2003, 38 (1), pp. 1 -37.). In 2004, the authors published a response, [9] in welke ze claimed Joyce’s argument was flawed due to omitted-variable bias .

In November 2005, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston economist Christopher Foote [10] and his research assistant Christopher Goetz, published a working paper, [11] in welke ze argued dat de resultaten Donohue and Levitt’s abortion and crime paper ulcers due to statistical errors made by the authors: the omission or state-year Interactions and the use of the total number of arrests Limit download the arrest rate in explanatory changes in the murder rate. When the Adjustments ulcers made, Foote and Goetz argued dat abortion actually Increased violent crime Limit download Decreasing it and did not affect property crime. Way Down also concluded therein the Majority of women who had abortions in the 1970s ulcers middle class whites Rather dan low income minderheden as Levitt stated; this was, they ‘stated, Because white middle class women had the financial Means for an abortion. The Economist remarked on the news of the errors that ‘for someone or Mr. Levitt’s iconoclasm and ingenuity, technical ineptitude is a much digger charge dan moral turpitude. To be politically incorrect one thing; to be simply incorrect quite Another. ” [12] In January 2006, Donohue and Levitt published a response, [13] in welke they ‘admitted the errors in hun original paper but ook pointed out Foote and Goetz’s correction was flawed due to heavy attenuation bias. The authors argued dat, after making Necessary changes to fix the original errors, the corrected link tussen abortion and crime was now weaker but still statistically significant, Contrary to Foote and Goetz’s claims. Foote and Goetz, however, soon produktie a rebuttal or hun eigen and Showed dat even after analyzing the data using the methods therein Levitt and Donohue recommend, the data does not show a positive correlation tussen abortion rates and crime rates. [11] Way Down are quick to point out down therein does Not necessarily disprove Levitt’s thesis, however, and emphasize therein with data this messy and incomplete, it is in all likelihood not even shower to prove or disprove Donohue and Levitt’s conclusion.

Prison population

Levitt’s 1996 paper on prison population uses prison overcrowding litigation to estimate extent dat Decreasing the prison population at 1 person is associated with an increase is or fifteen Index I crimes per year (Index I crimes include Homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, Burglary, Theft , motor vehicle theft, and arson). [14]

Police hiring

In a 1997 paper on the effect of police hiring on crime rates, Levitt uses the timing or Mayoral and gubernatorial elections as an instrumental variable to Identify a causal effect or police on crime. Past studies had leg inconclusive Because of the simultaneity inherent in police hiring (als crime increases as, more police are hired to combat crime). The findings of this paper ulcers found to be the result of a programming error. This was pointed out in a comment by Justin McCrary published in the American Economic Review in 2002. [15] In a response published with McCrary’s comment Levitt admits to the error and-then goes on to offer alternative evidence to support his original Conclusions. [16]


Ayres and Levitt (1998) use a new dataset on the prevalence or LoJack automobile anti-theft devices to estimate as the social externality associated with zijn use. Ze find therein the marginal social benefit or Lojack is fifteen times grotere dan the marginal social cost in high crime areas, but therein Those who install LoJack obtain less dan in percent of the total social benefits.

Criminal Age

Another 1998 paper FINDS therein juvenile criminals are at least as responsive to criminal sanctions as adults. Sharp drops in crime at the age of maturity suggest dat deterrence plays an important role in the decision to commit a crime. [17]

Finances or a drug corridor

Levitt and Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh (2000) analyseren a unique dataset welke details the financial activities of a drug-selling street course. Ze find dat wage earnings in the hallway are some what hogere dan legal market alternatives, but do not offset the Increased risks associated with selling drugs. Ze dat suggest the prospect of high future earnings are the primary economic motivation for being in a hallway.

Link tussen drunk driving and accident rates

Levitt and Porter (2001) find therein drivers with alcohol in blood hun are seven times more LIKELY to cause a fatal crash dan a sober driver (those Above the legal limit are 13 times more LIKELY dan a sober driver). Way Down ESTIMATE therein the externality per mile driven by a drunk driver is at least thirty cents welke Implies therein the proper fine to internalize this cost is roughly $ 8,000.

Cheating in sumo wrestling and to teachers in schools

Duggan and Levitt (2002) show how nonlinear payoff schemes Establish incentives for corruption and the authors use the nonlinearity to bieden Substantial statistical evidence dat cheating is taking place in Japanese sumo wrestling . Brian and Levitt (2003) developed an algorithm to detect teachers who cheat for hun students on Standardized tests. Ze find dat de Observed frequency or cheating Appears to respondents Strongly to relatief minor changes in incentives.


Levitt’s work on politics of includes papers on the effects of campaign spending, on the median voter Theorem , and on the effects of federal spending.

Levitt’s 1994 paper on campaign spending employs a unique identification strategy to control for the quality of lycra candidates (welke in previous work had led to an over statement of the true effect). It concludes therein campaign spending has a very small impact on outcomes-selection, Regardless of who does the spending. On the subject of federal spending and elections, previous empirical studies ulcers not loveable to Establish dat members of Congress are rewarded by the electorate for Bringing federal dollars to hun district Because Of omitted variables bias. Levitt and Snyder (1997) Employ an instrument welke circumvents this problem and FINDS evidence dat federal spending benefits Congressional incumbents; they ‘find therein an additional_image_link $ 100 per capita spending is worth as much as 2 percent of the popular vote.

The 1996 paper on the median voter Theorem develops a methodology for consistently estimating the relative weights in a senator’s utility function and casts doubt on the median voter Theorem, finding therein the senator’s own ideology is the primary determinant of roll-call voting patterns.

Other studies

  • Testing Mixed Strategy Equilibria When Players Are Heterogeneous: The Case of Penalty Kicks in Soccer (2002): Chiappori, Levitt and Groseclose use penalty kicks from soccer games to test the idea of ​​mixed strategies, a concept important to game theory. Way Down do not reject the hypothesis therein players choose hun strategically optimally.
  • Causes and consequences of distinctively black names (2004): Fryer and Levitt find therein the rise in distinctively black names took place in the early 1970s. While previous studies found keeping a black names HARMFUL, ze dat conclude keeping a distinctively black names are primarily a Consequence Rather dan a cause or poverty and segregation.
  • Discrimination in game shows (2004): Levitt uses contestant voting behavior on the US version of the television show Weakest Link to distinguish tussen taste-based and information-based theories of discrimination. Levitt found no discrimination Against females or blacks, while finding taste-based discrimination Against the Old and information-based discrimination Against Hispanics.


Defamation suit

On April 10, 2006, John Lott Filed suit [18] for defamation Against Steven Levitt and HarperCollins Publishers on the book Freakonomics and Against Levitt on a series of emails to retired economist John B. McCall. [19] In the book Freakonomics , Levitt and coauthor Stephen J. Dubner claimed therein the results of Lott’s research in More Guns, Less Crime had not leg replicated in other Academics. In the e-mails to McCall, who had pointed to a number of papers in different academic publications dat had replicated Lott’s work, Levitt wrote dat de work by authors Supporting Lott in a special 2001 issue of the Journal of Law and Economics had not leg peer reviewed , alleged therein Lott had paid the University of Chicago Press to publish the papers, and therein papers with results Opposite of Lott’s had leg blocked from publication in dat issue. [20]

A federal judge found that Levitt’s replication claim in Freakonomics was not defamation but found merit in Lott’s complaint about the email claims. [21]

Levitt settled the second defamation claim by admitting in a letter to John B. McCall dat he himself was a peer reviewer in the 2001 issue of the Journal of Law and Economics , dat Lott had not Engaged in bribery (paying for additional costs or printing and postage for a conference issue is Customary), and therein have we knew that ‘scholars with varying opinions “(including Levitt himself) had bone Invited to participate. [22] [23] The Chronicle of Higher Education characterized Levitt’s letter as offering “a doozy of a concession.” [24]

The dismissal of the first half of Lott’s suit was unanimously UPHELD by The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on February 11, 2009. [25]

Stetson Kennedy

Levitt drew criticism for writing an article called “Hoodwinked?”, A follow-up to the chapter “The Ku Klux Klan and Real Estate Agents” in his and co-author Stephen Dubner’s 2005 book Freakonomics . The chapter compares the two as maintaining power derived from secret information. It goes on to detail how Stetson Kennedy infiltrated the KKK and disseminated zijn secrets, effectief stripping it of much of zijn power. In 2006 Dubner and Levitt co-authored an article in the New York Times reports dat some or author Stetson Kennedy ‘s accounts ulcers embellished and his 1942 book The Klan Unmasked did not measure journalistic standards. [26]

Selected bibliography

Academic publications (in chronological order)

  • “Four essays in positive political economy” PhD Thesis, DSpace @ MIT. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of of Economics, 1994.
  • “Using Repeat Challengers to Estimate the Effect of Campaign Spending on Election Outcomes in the US House.” Journal of Political Economy , 1994, 102 (4), pp. 777-98.
  • “How Do Senators Vote? Disentangling the Role of Voter Preferences, Party Affiliation, and Senator Ideology.” American Economic Review , 1996, 86 (3), pp. 425-41.
  • “The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence from Prison Overcrowding Litigation.” Quarterly Journal of Economics , 1996, 111 (2), pp. 319-51.
  • “The Impact of Federal Spending on House Election Outcomes.” Journal of Political Economy , 1997, 105 (1), pp. 30-53. (with Snyder, James M., Jr.).
  • “Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime.” American Economic Review , 1997, 87 (3), pp. 270-90.
  • “Measuring Positive Externalities from Unobservable Victim Precaution: An Empirical Analysis of Lojack.” Quarterly Journal of Economics , 1998, 113 (1), pp. 43-77 (with Ayres, Ian).
  • “Juvenile Crime and Punishment.” 1998 Journal of Political Economy , 106 (December): 1156-1185.
  • “An Economic Analysis of a Drug-Selling Gang’s Finances.” Quarterly Journal of Economics , 2000, 115 (3), pp. 755-89. (with Venkatesh, Sudhir A.).
  • “The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime.” Quarterly Journal of Economics , 2001, 116 (2), pp. 379-420. (with Donohue, John J., III).
  • “How Dangerous Are Drinking Drivers?” Journal of Political Economy , 2001, 109 (6), pp. 1198-237. (with Porter, Jack).
  • “Testing Mixed Strategy Equilibria When Players Are Heterogeneous: The Case of Penalty Kicks in Soccer.” American Economic Review , 2002, 92 , pp. 1138-1151 (With Chiappori, Pierre-Andre and Groseclose Timothy).
  • “Winning Is not Everything: Corruption in Sumo Wrestling.” American Economic Review , 2002, 92 (5), pp. 1594-605. (with Duggan, Mark).
  • “Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effects of Police on Crime: Reply.” American Economic Review , 2002, 92 (4), pp. 1244-50.
  • “Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Voorspellers or Teacher Cheating ” Quarterly Journal of Economics , 2003, 118 (3), pp. 843-77. (with Jacob, Brian A.).
  • “The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names.” Quarterly Journal of Economics , 2004, 119 (3), pp. 767-805. (with Fryer, Roland G., Jr.)
  • Levitt, Steven D. (2004). “Testing Theories Of Discrimination: Evidence From Weakest Link” (PDF) . Journal of Law and Economics . 47 (2): 431. doi : 10.1086 / 425591 .
  • Levitt, Steven D. (Winter 2004). “Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors therein Explainconflict the Decline and Six therein Do Not” (PDF) . Journal of Economic Perspectives . 18 : 163-190. doi : 10.1257 / 089533004773563485 .

Other publications

  • Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything William Morrow, May 2005 (with Stephen Dubner)
  • SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance , co-author (2009) ( ISBN 0-060-88957-8 )
  • Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain , co-author with Stephen Dubner (2014) ( ISBN 0-062-21833-6 )
  • When to Rob a Bank: … And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants , co-author with Stephen Dubner (2015) ( ISBN 0-062-38532-1 )


  1. Jump up^ Four essays in positive political economy
  2. Jump up^ TGG Group profile
  3. Jump up^ “The 2006 TIME 100 – TIME” . Retrieved 5 December 2016 .
  4. Jump up^
  5. Jump up^ Jewish Virtual Library: “Steven Levitt”retrieved March 29, 2015
  6. Jump up^ “Untitled Document” . Retrieved 5 December 2016 .
  7. Jump up^ “Freakonomics – The hidden side of everything” . Retrieved 5 December 2016 .
  8. Jump up^ ” ‘ Freakonomics’: Musings of a ‘Rogue Economist’: NPR” .
  9. Jump up^ John J. Donohue III and Stephen D. Levitt (2004). “Further Evidence that Legalized Abortion Lowered Crime: A Reply to Joyce” (pdf) . The Journal of Human Resources . Retrieved 2008-12-03 .
  10. Jump up^ Boston Federal Reserve Bank of. “Christopher Foote – Federal Reserve Bank of Boston” . Retrieved 5 December 2016 .
  11. ^ Jump up to:a b Christopher L. Foote & Christopher F. Goetz (2008-01-31). “The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime: Comment” (pdf) . Federal Reserve Bank of Boston . Retrieved 2008-05-12 .
  12. Jump up^ “Abortion, Crime, and Econometrics” . The Economist. 2005-12-01 . Retrieved 2008-05-12 .
  13. Jump up^ John J. Donohue III and Stephen D. Levitt (January 2006). “Measurement Error, Legalized Abortion, the Decline in Crime: A Response to Foote and Goetz” (pdf) . Retrieved 2008-12-03 .
  14. Jump up^ “The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence from Prison Overcrowding Litigation” abstract, “A one-prisoner reduction is associated with an increase is or fifteen Index I crimes per year.”
  15. Jump up^ Justin McCrary,”Do Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring Really Help us Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime?” Comment AER, 2002, 92 (4), pp. 1236-43.
  16. Jump up^ Steven D. Levitt,”Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effects of Police on Crime: Reply”AER, 2002, 92 (4), pp. 1244-50.
  17. Jump up^ Levitt, Steven (1998). “Juvenile Crime and Punishment” . Journal of Political Economy . 106 (6).
  18. Jump up^ PDF or Lott’s complaint v. Levitt
  19. Jump up^ Law, George Mason. “Parker Argues in Defamation Lawsuit – George Mason Law” . . Retrieved 2015-08-10 .
  20. Jump up^ Higgins, Michael (2006-04-11). “Best-selling leads scholar to file Lawsuit; Defamation allegation targets U. of C. author”. Chicago Tribune. p. 3.
  21. Jump up^ “Judge Castillo issues decision on Lott v. Levitt” on John Lott’s website
  22. Jump up^ Glenn, David (2007-08-10). “Dueling Economists Reach Settlement in Defamation Lawsuit” . Chronicle of Higher Education . 53 (49): 10.
  23. Jump up^ “Unusual Agreement Means Settlement May Be Near in Lott v. Levitt, July 27, 2007”
  24. Jump up^ “Unusual Agreement Means Settlement May Be Near in Lott v. Levitt ‘ ‘. 27 July 2007 . Retrieved 5 December 2016 – by The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  25. Jump up^ “7th Circuit Affirmation of District Court Dismissal of Defamation Lawsuit”
  26. Jump up^ Dubner, Stephen J .; Levitt, Steven D. (January 8, 2006). “Hoodwinked?”. The New York Times .