Earth 2.0: Is Income Inequality Inevitable?

In pursuit of a more perfect economy, we discuss the future of work; the toxic remnants of colonization; and whether giving everyone a basic income would be genius — or maybe the worst idea ever.

Earth 2.0: What Would Our Economy Look Like?

If we could reboot the planet and create new systems and institutions from scratch, would they be any better than what we’ve blundered our way into through trial and error? This is the first of a series of episodes that we’ll release over several months. Today we start with — what else? — economics. You’ll hear from Nobel laureate Angus Deaton, the poverty-fighting superhero Jeff Sachs; and many others.

Should We Really Behave Like Economists Say We Do?

Season 6, Episode 9  You have perhaps come across the phrase homo economicus, which describes a model for human behavior as seen through the lens of economics. In this hour, you’ll hear Freakonomics Radio producer Greg Rosalsky embark on a long and tortuous process to live his life like homo economicus. Is this even possible? […]

Ten Ideas to Make Politics Less Rotten

Season 6, Episode 1 We Americans may love our democracy — at least in theory — but at the moment our feelings toward the Federal government lie somewhere between disdain and hatred. Which electoral and political ideas should be killed off to make way for a saner system? This episode features ideas from Olympia Snowe, Howard Dean, Joaquin […]

Should We Really Behave Like Economists Say We Do? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called “Should We Really Behave Like Economists Say We Do?" (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes or elsewhere, 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.)

Is Learning a Foreign Language Really Worth It? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Our latest podcast is called “Is Learning a Foreign Language Really Worth It?” (You can subscribe 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.) We produced the episode in response to a question from a listener named Doug Ahmann, who wrote in to say:   

I'm very curious how it came to be that teaching students a foreign language has reached the status it has in the U.S. … My oldest daughter is a college freshman, and not only have I paid for her to study Spanish for the last four or more years -- they even do it in grade school now! -- but her college is requiring her to study EVEN MORE! 

What on earth is going on? How did it ever get this far?

In a day and age where schools at every level are complaining about limited resources, why on earth do we continue to force these kids to study a foreign language that few will ever use, and virtually all do not retain?

Or to put it in economics terms, where is the ROI? 

Great question, Doug! We do our best to provide some answers.

We the Sheeple: A New Freakonomics Podcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called "We the Sheeple." (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player in the post.) The gist: politicians tell voters exactly what they want to hear, even when it makes no sense -- which is pretty much all the time.

With the Presidential election finally almost here, this is the last of our politically themed podcasts for a while. We've previously looked at how much the President really matters (updated here); whether campaign spending is as influential as people think; why people bother to vote (related Times column here); whether we tell the truth in polls; and whether we should consider importing the British tradition of Prime Minister's Questions.

"We the Sheeple" features Bryan Caplan, the economist-author of The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies. You might have read or heard from Caplan in other Freakonomics venues, including "The Economist's Guide to Parenting," in which he discussed another of his books, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids.

New Freakonomics Radio Podcast: “The Economist’s Guide to Parenting”

Our newest Freakonomics Radio podcast is called "The Economist's Guide to Parenting." This is the second of five hour-long podcasts we’ll be releasing over the coming weeks. Some of you may have heard them on public-radio stations around the country, but now all the hours are being fed into our podcast stream. (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the media player above, or read the transcript here.)

I know what you’re thinking when you read the title of this podcast. You’re thinking what the **** — economists? What can economists possibly have to say about something as emotional, as nuanced, as humane, as parenting? Well, let me say this: because economists aren’t necessarily emotional (or, for that matter, all that nuanced or humane), maybe they’re exactly the people we need to sort this through. Maybe.

You may remember that we wrote a bit about parenting in Freakonomics; now we've put together an entire roundtable of economists to talk about a great many elements of child-rearing, with one essential question in mind: how much do parents really matter, and in what dimensions? So you'll hear about parents' effect on everything from education and culture cramming to smoking and drinking.

The Economist’s Guide to Parenting

Season 1, Episode 2

Our second hour-long episode of Freakonomics Radio is called "The Economist's Guide to Parenting." (You can listen or download via the link above, or read a transcript here. This episode and four more hours will be airing on public-radio stations across the country this summer at various times, so check out your local station's website. And you can subscribe to the Freakonomics Radio podcast on iTunes or via RSS.)

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking what the **** — economists? What can economists possibly have to say about something as emotional, as nuanced, as humane, as parenting? Well, let me say this: because economists aren’t necessarily emotional (or, for that matter, all that nuanced or humane), maybe they’re exactly the people we need to sort this through. Maybe.