(1967 - )
Steven Levitt (born May 29, 1967) is an American economist
known for his work in the field of crime, in particular on the link
between legalized abortion and crime rates. Winner of the 2004 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, and co-editor of the Journal of Political
Economy published by the University of Chicago Press.
He co-authored, with Stephen J. Dubner, the best-selling book Freakonomics (2005) and its sequel SuperFreakonomics (2009). Levitt was
chosen as one of Time Magazine's "100 People Who Shape Our World"
Levitt was born into a Jewish family and attended
St. Paul Academy and Summit School, graduated from Harvard University
in 1989 with his B.A. in economics, and received his Ph.D. from MIT
in 1994. He is currently the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service
Professor and the director of the Becker Center on Price Theory at the
University of Chicago. In 2004 he won the John Bates Clark Medal, awarded
bi-annually by the American Economic Association to the most promising
U.S. 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.
His work on various economics topics, including crime,
politics and sports, includes over 60 academic publications. For example,
his An Economic Analysis of a Drug-Selling Gang's Finances (2000) analyzes
a hand-written "accounting" of a criminal gang, and draws
conclusions about the income distribution among gang members. In his
most well-known and controversial paper (The Impact of Legalized Abortion
on Crime (2001), co-authored with John Donohue), he shows that the legalization
of abortion in the US was followed approximately eighteen years later
by a reduction in crime, then argues that unwanted children commit more
crime than wanted children and that the legalization of abortion resulted
in fewer unwanted children, and thus a reduction in crime as these children
reached the age at which many criminals begin committing crimes.