In Think Like a Freak, we touch briefly on paying schoolkids for good grades — which, much of the time, isn’t successful. This inspired a note from a reader named Gary Crowley, who describes himself as “an economics major in college many years ago”:
Loved Think Like a Freak.
One thought: Why don’t we trying paying parents for kids getting good grades??? If the parents are motivated to make money, from someone else’s hard work, then they’ll make the kids work harder and want them to stay in school. I think paying the kids doesn’t take advantage of the leverage of a parent over their child. Just a thought.
As a child in the feudal system of a blue-collar Irish-Catholic East Coast family, my Dad took great pride in and took the credit for his beautiful lawn. This would be the same lawn that his children did all the work on. Haha. Don’t see why it wouldn’t work for grades. And I’m sure the parents would be just as proud, even if they’re getting paid.
Gary’s note may also be referring to a brief passage in Think about the parents of schoolkids: Read More »
Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called “How to Make People Quit Smoking.” (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.) The gist: the war on cigarettes has been fairly successful in some places. But 1 billion humans still smoke — so what comes next?
In the U.S., roughly 70 percent of smokers say they want to quit. But when they try, some 90 percent of them fail. So what does get people to smoke less? Something must be working: the smoking rate in the U.S. has fallen by more than half.
Kenneth Warner, an economist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, has been doing tobacco-policy research since the 1970’s. One of the most powerful smoking deterrents, he says, is making cigarettes more expensive. Read More »
From Eric Kirkland, a photo of an ice-cream shop in Colorado Springs with a weather-sensitive customer-loyalty plan: Read More »
John List and Uri Gneezy have appeared on our blog many times. This guest post is part a series adapted from their new book The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life. List appeared in our recent podcast “How to Raise Money Without Killing a Kitten.”
Money is important. For a long time, economists thought that it was the only thing that mattered. And, in fact, if you want people to do what you want, money can be incredibly useful. Out to entice the best workers? Pay more. Want to sell a product? Discount it, a lot. Want to discourage a bad behavior? Impose a monetary fine.
It seemed a little silly to us though (as well as to other behavioral economists doing work back in the 1990s) to think that money was the only thing that mattered. So we set out to learn exactly when and how monetary incentives work. Along the way, we discovered some environments where incentives don’t work at all. Read More »
John List and Uri Gneezy have appeared on our blog many times. This guest post is part of a series adapted from their book The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life. List also appeared in our recent podcast “How to Raise Money Without Killing a Kitten.”
If you look at two pictures of two athletes: One is beaming, the other doesn’t seem too sure what she’s feeling. Which do you think won the silver? Which the bronze? Easy, right? Silver is better than bronze, so the smiling girl on the right must have won the silver. Which do you think won the silver? Which the bronze? Easy, right? Silver is better than bronze, so the smiling girl on the right must have won the silver. Read More »
Last spring, I blogged about the $5/day for in-house food purchases that many Sheraton hotels give guests who waive house-cleaning. In some hotels, they offer a choice between the $5 and 500 frequent-guest points. Which is better? For infrequent guests like me, the $5 is better. But in some of the best Sheraton hotels, it only takes 10,000 points to obtain a free night—i.e., 20 days of no house-cleaning. If you are a frequent guest, that seems like a much better deal—the opportunity cost of one free night is $100, typically far below the price of a night. The Sheraton’s offer creates a separation between infrequent and frequent guests, benefiting the latter (and giving people an incentive to become frequent guests). (HT: DJH)
If you have a tough decision to make, wander on over to FreakonomicsExperiments.com. So far we’ve helped more than 20,000 people make decisions, and the preliminary results look great.
As an incentive to get people who tossed coins at FreakonomicsExperiments to complete follow-up surveys, we promised to give away prizes via lottery. As evidence we kept our word, the complete list of winners is here. Read More »