How Easy is it to Read The Wages of Wins?

Posted on July 30, 2006 by


Our intention in writing The Wages of Wins was to take our academic work to a general audience.  As we note in the preface, though, we had no experience writing for anyone other than fellow economists.  So at the onset of this project it was not clear that we could write something that was accessible to non-economists.

The reviews of our work in The New Yorker, the New York Times, and Sports Illustrated indicate that we were somewhat successful in our objective.  Words are of course nice, but as economists with a strong empirical bent, we wanted some data to support our contention that our work was accessible.

Yesterday I found such data at  Previously I noted all the features has for those thinking of purchasing our work.  Now another feature has been added.  If you click on Text Stats you are provided with a number of stats associated with our book.  These include the Fog Index, the Flesch Index, and the Flesch-Kincaid Index. describes these indices as follows:

  • The Fog Index was developed by Robert Gunning. It indicates the number of years of formal education required to read and understand a passage of text.
  • The Flesch Index, developed in 1940 by Dr. Rudolph Flesch, is another indicator of reading ease. The score returned is based on a 100 point scale, with 100 being easiest to read. Scores between 90 and 100 are appropriate for 5th and 6th graders, while a college degree is considered necessary to understand text with a score between 0 and 30.
  • The Flesch-Kincaid Index is a refinement to the Flesch Index that tries to relate the score to a U.S. grade level. For example, text with a Flesch-Kincaid score of 10.1 would be considered suitable for someone with a 10th grade or higher reading level.

For our book the Fog Index is 10.4, the Flesch Index is 61.9, and the Flesch-Kincaid Index is 7.7.  To put these numbers in perspective, indicates that two-thirds of books written are harder to read than The Wages of Wins.  A more specific comparison can be made if we look at Freakonomics, the best-seller written by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.  For this work we see a Fog Index of 11.1, a Flesch Index of 55.3, and a Flesch-Kincaid Index of 9.1. 

So we wrote a book that is easier to read than the average book and furthermore, a bit easier to read than Freakonomics.  Although the actual research we report in the book was not inspired by Freakonomics (it was virtually all completed before that book was published), certainly we tried to follow the example of Levitt and Dubner in writing our book.  The stats indicate we were somewhat successful. also provides a few other stats on The Wages of Wins.  Our book contains 87,152 words and of these, 14% are complex – which is defined as a word with three or more syllables. On average, our words have 1.6 syllables and each sentence contains 12.4 words.

Finally, the stats indicate that people who buy our book from receive 4,619 words per dollar spent.  Of course, as I indicated here, not everyone is charged the price.  If you purchase our book from Best Prices you will only receive 2,359 words per dollar spent. 

Now this little essay is so far 560 words. So if this was Best Prices, everyone would have to pay 24 cents for this post.  And the more I write, the higher would be the price.  In fact, just saying this has raised the price to 25 cents. 

Fortunately, you do not have to purchase this essay at Best Prices or  You did, though, have to spend some time to read something that has descended into nonsense.  So how many people want the time it took to read this back?  Unfortunately, we have a strict no-refund policy at The Wages of Wins Journal.

— DJ

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