January 09, 2004

Steven Levitt

Brad DeLong calls the award of the John Bates Clark medal to Steven Levitt "a well deserved prize". Levitt was featured in a NYT magazine article this summer (Aug. 3) and is considered somewhat of a wunderkind in the economics world, known for his ability to approach difficult problems from a new direction.

His topics included the effect of school choice on educational results; the causes and consequences of distinctively black names; the effect of legalised abortion on crime; how to test theories of discrimination using evidence from the television programme, "The Weakest Link"; the gap in test results between blacks and whites in the first two years of schooling; gambling and the National Football League; and teachers who cheat in appraisals of their students' performance. Among the work he has published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals are a series of papers on crime and punishment, drug-gang finance, penalty kicks in soccer, money and elections, drunken driving, and the effect of ideology as opposed to voter preferences on the policies supported by politicians. In 2002 the impeccably sober American Economic Review published a paper co-written by Mr Levitt on corruption and sumo wrestling.

He's a pretty fascinating guy, but his interdisciplinary forays and provocative choice of topics ensure that he's got his share of detractors.

Posted by richard at January 9, 2004 12:43 AM