Freakonomics Character List

Norma McCorvey

The young Dallas woman seeking an abortion who was the plaintiff in the Roe v. Wade case. Her name was disguised as Jane Roe.

James Alan Fox

The criminologist who, in 1995, proposed that the teenage crime and murder rate would more than double. Instead, the rate fell dramatically.

Henry Wade

The Dallas County district attorney, who was the defendant in the Roe v. Wade case.

Arne Duncan

The CEO of Chicago Public Schools in the early 2000s, who pushed for identifying and getting rid of cheating teachers in the system.

Paul Feldman

An agricultural economist who began delivering bagels to over a hundred offices in Washington, D.C., and collecting money on the honor system for these bagels. This created an economic experiment about incentives, cheating, and stealing.

Adam Smith

The Scottish moral philosopher who wrote The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations, two extremely important texts in the field of economics.

Stetson Kennedy

The man who infiltrated the 1940s Ku Klux Klan in Atlanta, posing as a Klansman and eventually releasing the Klan's inner secrets to a radio show.

Sudhir Venkatesh

University of Chicago PhD student who began living with the Black Disciples crack gang in order to learn more about its operation.


Leader of the branch of the Black Disciples crack gang that Venkatesh spent time studying. J.T. was a university-educated business major.

Nicolae Ceausescu

The communist dictator of Romania from 1965 to 1989. He banned abortion; as a result, crime rates rose drastically in the small nation.

William "Bill" Bratton

Police chief in New York City who instituted a novel approach to policing in the mid-1990s in order to fix the city's crime situation.

John R. Lott Jr.

Champion of the idea that putting more guns on the street in the hands of the right people will reduce crime.

Peter Sandeman

An expert on risk, who analyzed the factors that contribute to the public's (often misguided) assessment of the risks of certain situations.

Judith Rich Harris

Author who wrote The Nurture Assumption, which argued that parents mattered less than people believed with regards to the outcomes of their children.

Roland G. Fryer

A young black Harvard economist who specializes in studying the achievement gap between blacks and whites.

Winner Lane

Boy who was given the name "Winner" and who turned out to have an abominable crime record.

Loser Lane

Brother of "Winner"; he turned out to be an immensely successful police officer in the NYPD.