Instead of trick or treat, how about treatment or control? We conducted two new studies on my porch this year for Halloween. Unfortunately, the mayor of New Haven recommended that people delay trick-or-treating post-Sandy even though the neighborhood was in good shape. This caused lots of confusion, and a turnout of half of the normal turnout of 600 or so kids. So sample size is down, standard errors up.
Alas, two nice results. Both written up in one-page one-graph papers. Read More »
A few weeks ago, we got an e-mail from a reader Vishal Dosanjh, who lives in St. Louis:
My daughter asked me this morning why the fancy neighborhoods are the best places to go trick-or-treating. It puzzled me for a moment and then realized it was an economic question. I gave her an answer about disposable income and societal expectations. Anyway I thought it might be up your alley, and I wonder if it’s even true. Do wealthy neighborhoods/people actually give out better candy? She’s 8 by the way.
Freakonomics has reported at length on the human tendency to worry about rare problems that are unlikely to happen versus more common problems that we tend to ignore. And perhaps because of this, we’ve also been in the vanguard of the campaign against drunk walking, which is 8 times more likely to result in your death than drunk driving.
And so a recent story from Christopher Shea at the WSJ Ideas Blog caught our eye, because it so perfectly combines these two obsessions. Shea writes that a razor blade in an apple on Halloween is a myth, and has probably never happened. Pedestrian deaths, however, are four times higher on October 31st than an average day, because so many more people are wandering around outside. We at Freakonomics would like to add that some of those Halloween revelers (the adults at least) are also more likely to be inebriated, which no doubt explains some of the accidents.