When Helping Hurts

Good intentions are nice, but with so many resources poured into social programs, wouldn’t it be even nicer to know what actually works?

The Fracking Boom, a Baby Boom, and the Retreat From Marriage

Over 40 percent of U.S. births are to unmarried mothers, and the numbers are especially high among the less-educated. Why? One argument is that the decline in good manufacturing jobs led to a decline in “marriageable” men. Surely the fracking boom reversed that trend, right?

Family Matters: TMSIDK Episode 20

Amy Chua, Liza Donnelly and Gary Gulman are panelists. The "Tiger Mom," the New Yorker cartoonist and the comedian join our dysfunctional family for this show on parenting, cousins, genealogy and medical divorce. AJ Jacobs is fact-checker.

The Church of ‘Scionology’

Season 6, Episode 18 On this week’s episode of Freakonomics Radio: if you’ve built a successful business — be it a bakery, a carmaker or a newspaper — who continues the legacy when you retire? For many Fortune 500 companies, the answer is obvious: one (or more) of your children take the helm. But let’s get beyond the nepotism and silver spoons, […]

The Troubled Cremation of Stevie the Cat: A Freakonomics Radio Rebroadcast

If there's a death in your family and you choose to have your loved one cremated, wouldn't you expect that the remains that are returned to you belong specifically to your beloved? Of course you would! Would you expect the same if the dearly departed happens to be the family pet? I suspect the answer is still yes. But in the fast-growing pet-cremation business, how do you know that the remains you're getting back are indeed from your pet?

This week’s podcast is a rebroadcast of our episode called “The Troubled Cremation of Stevie the Cat.”

New Freakonomics Radio Podcast: “The Church of ‘Scionology'”

About one-third of the companies in the Fortune 500 are family-controlled firms. Isn't that amazing? Isn't that fantastic?

You know the story. Some incredibly hard-working person starts a business – maybe a bakery or a brewery, a carmaker or a newspaper – and, against all odds, the business doesn’t just succeed; it flourishes. But someday, it's inevitable that the founder will retire (or die). So who takes over then?
That’s easy: the founder’s son or daughter. The scion of the family. Who better to protect and grow the family brand?

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Who could possibly work harder than someone whose name is on the building?

The family firm is a way of life. And it’s a nice story. But we’ve got a big, hungry economy here, people. “Nice” doesn’t necessarily generate jobs; "nice" doesn't increase productivity or spur innovation. So when it comes to putting the family scion in charge of a company, here’s what we wanted to know: what do the numbers say?

That's the theme of our latest podcast, "The Church of Scionology." This is the first of five hour-long podcasts we'll be releasing over the next ten weeks. Some of you may have heard some of 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.)