Archives for Marketplace



The Perils of Drunk Walking: A New Marketplace Podcast

In our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast, Stephen Dubner looks at why the first decision you make in 2012 can be riskier than you think. (Download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript.)

The risks of driving drunk are well-established; it’s an incredibly dangerous thing to do, and produces massive collateral damage as well. So if you have a bit too much to drink over the holiday and think you’ll do the smart thing and walk home instead — well, that’s not so smart after all. Steve Levitt has compared the risk of drunk walking with drunk driving and found that the former can potentially pose a greater risk: Read More »



How American Food Got So Bad: A New Marketplace Podcast

In our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast, Stephen Dubner and Kai Ryssdal talk about the unexpected reasons why American food got so bad. (Download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the media player above, or read the transcript.)

In his forthcoming book An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies, economist Tyler Cowen pinpoints specific moments in history that affected American food for decades to come. From Prohibition to stringent immigration quotas to World War II, Cowen argues that large societal forces threw us into a food rut that lasted for roughly 70 years: Read More »



What Makes a Donor Donate? A New Marketplace Podcast

In our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast, we look at the economics of charity — specifically, what works (and what doesn’t) when trying to incentivize people to give. (Download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the media player above, or read the transcript.)

In Australia, Dick Smith’s electronics empire has afforded him enough success to be able to donate about 20 percent of his annual income to charity. But, he says, this kind of generosity is no longer the norm: Read More »



Unnatural Turkeys: Full Transcript

This is the full transcript for the Freakonomics Radio Marketplace podcast, “Unnatural Turkeys.”

Kai Ryssdal: Time now for a little Freakonomics Radio. It’s that moment every two weeks where we talk to Stephen Dubner, the co-author of the books and the blog of the same name. It’s about the hidden side of everything. Dubner, welcome back.

Stephen Dubner: Hey Kai, thanks. I’ve got a little Thanksgiving quiz for you. Are you up for that?

Ryssdal: No, I don’t do quizzes. It’s my show. All right, what?

Dubner: Well, I’m going to force you to.

Ryssdal: All right.

Dubner: All right, here we go. Americans will probably eat about 40 million turkeys this month. Now, I hope this doesn’t kill your appetite, but what percentage of those 40 million birds do you think were the product of artificial insemination? Read More »



Unnatural Turkeys: A New Marketplace Podcast

In our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast, we’re talking turkey, literally. (Download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the media player above, or read the transcript.) Americans are expected to eat more than 40 million of the big birds this month for Thanksgiving, so we asked the same question everyone’s thinking: where do they all come from? The answer might surprise you – it certainly seemed to surprise Kai Ryssdal.

Specifically, the question is this: of all the commercially raised turkeys in the U.S., what percentage are the product of artificial insemination?

The answer, oddly enough, is 100 percent. Why? Well, it’s a supply-and-demand story. Because Americans particularly love to eat turkey breast meat (a great delivery platform for gravy!), turkeys have been selectively bred over the years to have bigger and bigger breasts. So big, in fact, that when it comes time for a male turkey to naturally reproduce with a female, his massive breast prevents him from getting close enough to complete the act. Read More »



Wildfires, Cops, and Keggers: A New Marketplace Podcast on Election-Time Mischief

Next week, dutiful voters will head to the polls for elections. Among the jobs up for grabs are the Kentucky and Mississippi governorships, the mayorship of San Francisco, and a smattering of municipal and state positions across the country. In many of these races, incumbents are fighting to keep their seats.

In our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast (you can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the media player above, or read the transcript), we examine the side effects that elections sometimes produce. Steve Levitt wrote about one such effect several years ago (here is the original study, and here’s an update): in mayoral and gubernatorial election years, police forces tend to grow and crime tends to fall.

As Stephen Dubner explains to Kai Ryssdal, incumbents’ incentives change when they run for re-election. They might try to perform better, hiring more police or lowering taxes. But they also might cater more to special interests, giving out election-time favors and even enabling illegal activities.

We went out in search of various election-year anomalies and found some pretty interesting stuff. Read More »



Wildfires, Cops, and Keggers: Full Transcript

This is the full transcript for the Freakonomics Radio Marketplace podcast, “Wildfires, Cops, and Keggers.

Kai Ryssdal: It’s time now for a little bit ofFreakonomics Radio. It’s that moment of your lives every couple weeks when we talk to Stephen Dubner, co-author of the books and blog about the hidden side of everything. Welcome back, Dubner.

Stephen Dubner: Hey Kai. I sent you a little something this week. Want to open it up?

Ryssdal: Here we go. It’s heavy. Also in a bag. Oh get out of here! It’s Heineken, a little mini-keg of Heineken. You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to put it in the Marketplace refrigerator.

Dubner: Don’t thank me too much, Kai — I’m actually just trying to save myself a little money. Because, as you know, Election Day is next week.

Ryssdal: Fine, but as much as I like my beer, what does Election Day have to do with it?

Dubner: Well, as it turns out, Election Day and beer inflation sometimes travel together. Here’s Jeffrey Kubik, an economist at Syracuse University: Read More »



Talk Back: Tell Us Your Election Stories

Ever notice anything strange around town when elections are coming up?

Our latest podcast, “Wildfires, Cops, and Keggers,” looks into the odd by-products of electoral politics — that is, not just which politicians get elected, but what kind of below-the-radar shenanigans happen before (and sometimes after) an election, usually inspired by how an incumbent’s incentives are lined up. Maybe property taxes dropped in the run-up to an election, only to spike once an incumbent had won another term. Maybe more cops and firemen were hired during campaign season.

Given that many of these election-cycle fluctuations occur in less-scrutizined local elections, we want to hear from you any interesting examples you’ve witnessed. Tell us your election stories in the comments below!