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What Can Vampires Teach Us About Economics? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

(Photo: gaelx)

Do vampires employ an optimal strategy in choosing their mates? Would a zombie invasion help create jobs? And what would happen if vampires didn’t have to attack humans to get blood?

These are some of the pressing questions we ask in this week’s episode, “What Can Vampires Teach Us About Economics?” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

It was inspired by a book called Economics of the Undead: Zombies, Vampires, and the Dismal Science a collection of 23 scholarly essays edited by the economists Glen Whitman and James Dow. Read More »


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Do Not Read This Unless You Have Already Listened to “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know”

Our latest podcast is called “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know.” It’s the debut of a live game show with audience contestants and celebrity judges, including Malcolm Gladwell. In the final round, the judges team up with contestants to play for the grand prize. If you’ve already listened, you’ll know that Malcolm and his partner were asked to tell us all something we don’t know about bread, and Malcolm came up with an intriguing fact that, upon a quick fact-check, turned out to be wrong. Oops! But as it turns out, Malcolm wasn’t so much wrong as he was confused about the type of bread. Here, from Malcolm himself, is the explanation: Read More »



Tell Me Something I Don’t Know: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast


A few years ago, I developed a habit. If the person sitting next to me on an airplane seemed like they wanted to have a conversation, I’d ask them a bit about themselves — let’s say they worked in civil engineering — and I’d say “Tell me something I don’t know about civil engineering.” The habit became an addiction. I loved learning stuff I didn’t know, and most people loved to talk about their passions, work-related or otherwise.

Soon this addiction fueled a dream: I imagined turning it into some kind of a live game show/talk show. It would be called “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know.” There’d be a host (me), some smart judges, and we’d invite the audience members to come onstage and tell us something we didn’t know. We’d learn a bit, laugh a lot, and take advantage of all the amazing information that’s floating around in the world.

It took a while to make this dream happen but finally it did, a few weeks, ago, at WNYC’s Greene Space. Read More »



How Can Tiny Norway Afford to Buy So Many Teslas? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Until recently, tiny Norway (population 5 million) has been the second largest market for Teslas (after the U.S.). Earlier this year, Tesla’s Model S became the best-selling car in the country ever for a one-month period. Not bad for a luxury electric vehicle whose base price in Norway is over $100,000. What’s behind this Tesla boom?

That’s the question we try to answer in this episode of Freakonomics Radio. It’s called “How Can Tiny Norway Afford to Buy So Many Teslas?” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

It turns out that Teslas, along with other electric vehicles, are massively subsidized by the Norwegian government. Read More »



How to Raise Money Without Killing a Kitten: A Freakonomics Radio Rebroadcast


It’s fundraising season again here at Freakonomics Radio. This episode is a rebroadcast of the first time that we asked listeners to donate to help keep our public-radio podcast going strong. This episode is called “How to Raise Money Without Killing a Kitten.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player in the post. You can also read the transcript; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

In this podcast you’ll hear the economist John List give us the gospel of fundraising — what works, what doesn’t, and why. List and economist Uri Gneezy write about the science of charitable giving in their book The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life. Read More »



Fixing the World, Bang-for-the-Buck Edition: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast


Here’s $2.5 trillion. You have 15 years to spend it. How do you distribute this money in a way that will achieve the most good for the world?

This isn’t a hypothetical. In September 2015, the United Nations will set its Post-2015 Development Goals,  continuation of the Millennium Development Goals it set in 2000.

But with every interest group imaginable (and then some) scrambling for a slice of the  aid pie, how do you decide which goals are the most worthy?

That’s the question addressed by this week’s episode. It’s called “Fixing the World, Bang-for-the-Buck Edition.” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.) Read More »



Fitness Apartheid: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast


A New York City apartment building has a gym that only certain tenants can use. Which tenants? The newer ones who are paying market-rate rents — and not the ones who’ve lived there long enough to qualify for much cheaper, government-subsidized rent. Some tenants call this “fitness apartheid.” What do economists call it?

That’s what this week’s show is about. The episode is called “Fitness Apartheid.” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

You’ll hear Theda Palmer Saxton and Jean Green Dorsey, both residents of Stonehenge Village, the building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with the controversial gym. Stephen Dubner also talks to Steve Levitt and Daniel Hamermesh, a  professor of economics at Royal Holloway University of London and Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin. (Hamermesh was on the show most recently talking about discrimination and looks.) As you’ll hear, Levitt and Hamermesh have pretty different points of view. Read More »



Outsiders by Design: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast


What does it mean to pursue something that everyone else think is nuts? And what does it take to succeed? That’s what this week’s episode is about. It’s called “Outsiders By Design.”  (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

You’ll hear about three radical thinkers whose lives didn’t proceed in a perfectly straight line. In each case, their work was ridiculed or ignored — but ultimately, they triumphed. This podcast was inspired by the recent death of the economist Gary Becker, whose firm belief in the rational choice model led him to publish works like “Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach” and “A Theory on the Allocation of Time.” Read More »



One Reason to Not Use Generic Medicines

Our latest podcast episode — “How to Save $1 Billion Without Even Trying” — discusses research which finds that health-care experts generally buy generic medicines for their own use rather than the more expensive name brands. The episode discusses the various reasons that brand names might be more appealing despite the higher cost. A listener […] Read More »



How to Save $1 Billion Without Even Trying: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast


When a pharmacist gets a headache, what do you think she’ll buy: Bayer aspirin or the much cheaper store brand?

You’ll find out on this week’s episode. Hint: the episode is called “How to Save $1 Billion Without Even Trying.” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.) Read More »



Regulate This! A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast


A battle is being waged between the Internet and the State, and this episode of Freakonomics Radio gives you front-row seats. It’s called “Regulate This!” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

At issue is the so-called sharing economy, a range of services that facilitate peer-to-peer transactions through the Internet. Companies like Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft have seen rapid growth and eye-popping valuations, but as they expand around the world, they are increasingly butting heads with government regulators. Read More »