Bagel Theft

Twenty years ago an economist got tired of his regular job and started selling bagels. In the morning, he would leave his bagels at offices alongside an honor-box. In the afternoon, he would pick up the leftovers and the payments. Being an economist he kept volumes of data on bagels eaten and payments made allowing him to deduce when and where people were the most dishonest.

Steve Levitt and journalist Steve Dubner write about “Paul F.’s” findings in the New York Times Magazine. Some of the results:

Theft declined 15 percent after 9/11.

People are more honest when the weather is especially good and more dishonest when the weather especially bad.

Smaller offices have lower crime rates, just like smaller cities.

Theft is high near Christmas.

Here’s the byline to the article:

Stephen J. Dubner, an author and journalist in New York City, and Steven D. Levitt, an economist at the University of Chicago, are writing a book about the economics of baby names, cheating, crack dealing and real estate.

Which leads me to wonder, what do these things have in common!