An e-mail from Brazil:
My name is Mauricio Castro, I have a social communications degree and teach interface design and multimedia systems.
I have a story I’d like to share with you guys.
I live in a nice neighborhood in the city of Vitória, Brazil. Being close to the beach, the city code forbids tall buildings in order to maintain sunlight in the sand all time. The maximum floor number is three.
So it’s only natural that most buildings here don’t have elevators. Even some new ones are presented only with stairs, especially those built for the younger customers.
So I went to the health clinic the other day and the nurse was telling me about the rising numbers of youngsters suffering from strokes. There are lots of explanations for these numbers rising, but mostly lifestyle and drug abuse.
Now, the real Freakonomics side of the story it that the number of people suffering from strokes is affecting the real estate market. Because those people are advised against using stairs after the strokes, they are migrating to other neighborhoods, where taller buildings are sure to have elevators.
Who would have thought of that?
Not sure how believable I find this but it does share one trait with the best unintended-consequences stories: as bizarre as the result may seem at first glance, upon inspection it makes perfect sense.