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

Season 7, Episode 5 This week on Freakonomics Radio: 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? Stephen J. Dubner investigates. […]

Could Solving This One Problem Solve All the Others?

Season 6, Episode 38 This week on Freakonomics Radio: the biggest problem with humanity is humans themselves. Too often, we make choices — what we eat, how we spend our money and time — that undermine our well-being. Stephen J. Dubner asks, “How can we stop?” And this radio hour has two answers: think small, and make behavior […]

Big Returns from Thinking Small

By day, two leaders of Britain’s famous Nudge Unit use behavioral tricks to make better government policy. By night, they repurpose those tricks to improve their personal lives. They want to help you do the same.

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? […]

How To Win A Nobel Prize: A New Freakonomics Radio Episode

Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called “How To Win A Nobel Prize" (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.)

The gist: the Nobel selection process is famously secretive (and conducted in Swedish!) but we pry the lid off, at least a little bit.

“I Don’t Know What You’ve Done With My Husband But He’s a Changed Man”: A New Freakonomics Radio Episode

Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called "I Don't Know What You've Done With My Husband, But He's a Changed Man." (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.) The gist: from domestic abusers to former child soldiers, there is increasing evidence that behavioral therapy can turn them around.

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.)

When Willpower Isn’t Enough: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

One of the most compelling talks I saw at this year's American Economics Association conference was by Katherine Milkman, an assistant professor at the Wharton School at Penn. She holds a joint Ph.D. in computer science and business, but her passion is behavioral economics -- and, specifically, how its findings can be applied to help people in their daily lives. Milkman and her research are the focus of our latest Freakonomics Radio episode, "When Willpower Isn't Enough." (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.)

Fighting Poverty With Actual Evidence: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Our new podcast is called “Fighting Poverty With Actual Evidence.” (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.)

Not long ago, we put out a podcast that asked the question “Would a big bucket of cash really change your life?” That episode looked at whether winning a land lottery in antebellum Georgia significantly altered a given family's financial future. University of Chicago economist Hoyt Bleakley, who studied that 1832 lottery, told us this: 

BLEAKLEY: We see a really huge change in the wealth of the individuals, but we don’t see any difference in human capital. We don’t see that the children are going to school more. If your father won the lottery or lost the lottery the school attendance rates are pretty much the same, the literacy rates are pretty much the same. As we follow those sons into adulthood, their wealth looks the same in a statistical sense. Whether their father won the lottery, lost the lottery, their occupation looks the same. The grandchildren aren’t going to school more, the grandchildren aren't more literate. 

But one case study can’t definitively answer the larger question: what’s the best way to help poor people stop being poor? That's the question we address in this new podcast. If features a discussion that Stephen Dubner recently moderated in New York City with Richard Thaler and Dean Karlan.

How to Think About Money, Choose Your Hometown, and Buy an Electric Toothbrush: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Our latest podcast is called “How to Think About Money, Choose Your Hometown, and Buy an Electric Toothbrush.” (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 below; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.) It’s another installment of our FREAK-quently Asked Questions, in which Stephen Dubner and Steve Levitt answer questions from you, our readers and listeners. 

Steve Reda, a 22-year-old in the Washington, D.C., area, asks if kids today are more careful using credit as opposed to cash. (It's a question that makes Dubner recall his salad days, back when he fell in love with economics and the "mental accounting" research done by Richard Thaler, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.) This leads to a conversation about spending in general, which leads to Levitt’s counterintuitive advice for the youth of today (advice passed down from Milton Friedman to José Scheinkman and on to Levitt):