FREAK-est Links

1. Today in aptonyms: a trainer named Michael Jock. (HT: Stephanie D)

2. Certain homes in Gary, Indiana going for $1 a house -- but most buyers don't fit the qualifications. (HT: Dave McCall)

3. Drive-in "sex boxes" in Zurich designed to make work less dangerous for sex workers.

4. Consider the price of lobster: cheap at the bay this year, still expensive at restaurants.

5. Does birth order matter? (HT: Eric M. Jones)

The Disadvantages of Summer Babies

A new report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies in the U.K. examines the big difference that a few months can make in the student achievement of young children. Authors Claire Crawford, Lorraine Dearden and Ellen Greaves found (along with several previous studies, like this one and this one) that children born in summer months generally score lower on standardized tests and are seen as "underachievers;" while children born in September and autumn months are more academically and socially successful.

The Prom Effect?

Researchers have long puzzled over the relatively poor health and education outcomes for babies born in the winter months. Past explanations have focused on school attendance laws, vitamin D exposure, and other environmental factors, but economists Kasey Buckles and Daniel Hungerman have found an overlooked explanation.

Happy Birthday, Charlie Darwin

Today, as you've probably heard, is the 200th anniversary of both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. Lincoln always gets lots of ink, so it's especially nice to see all the attention being paid to Darwin; this piece is particularly good.

I Turn Old Today

Dan and his wife in 1966. Back to Bismarck! Today I am officially old (by definition of the U.S. Census Bureau). As an economist, I am “hung up” on this age. Why? Because the life-cycle theories of utility maximization that describe patterns of consumption are based on a retirement age; and 65 was enshrined as […]

My Son Andrew Would Have Turned 10 Today

My son Andrew would have turned 10 today. I usually try to say a little something about him on the blog around this time of year. This year, I commemorate Andrew through the words of a new friend, John Latham. In his day job, Latham is a leading climate scientist. He also moonlights as a […]

Happy Birthday, Dad

When it comes to creativity and storytelling, my sister Linda Jines got all the talent. She, for instance, is the genius who thought up the title “Freakonomics.” In what we hope will be the first in a long line of guest blog posts, today she toasts my father on his 73rd birthday. Levitt’s father in […]

What’s the Significance of Your Sign? A Guest Post

A reader named E. Allyn Smith, a Ph.D. student in linguistics at Ohio State University, wrote in with the following observations. I’ve been thinking about birthdays a lot lately, because November 15th to the 27th is one of the annual “birthday rushes” in which I have eight birthdays in two weeks. It got me thinking […]