Archives for Milton Friedman



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): Read More »



Mourning Thatcher in Estonia

An Estonian Public Broadcasting news article about the death of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher noted her efforts to help Estonia’s early independent government break with Soviet-era policies. It also included the following:

Of the three, it was Thatcher’s economic policies in particular that were often cited by Mart Laar, the country’s prime minister who came to power after the first post-independence parliamentary elections, as the blueprint for his free-market reforms.

In 2010, Laar told the Freakonomics Radio podcast: “The flat tax I got on my first meeting with Margaret Thatcher, who I admired very much and who was a great admirer of Milton Friedman. I met her first when I had been prime minister I think for some months and so on, and when I told her what I am planning to do, she looked at me with these big eyes and said ‘you are one brave young man.’ And then a little bit introduced me on the realities of the Western world on which I was not very well informed. But I didn’t stop.”

Freakonomics podcast listeners may recall that Laar appeared on one of our earliest podcasts “What Would the World Look Like if Economists Were in Charge?



Evidence on School Choice

Economists, long inspired by Milton Friedman and others, generally embrace the concept of school choice. But actual evidence on its efficacy has been thin.

A new working paper by Justine S. Hastings, Christopher A. Neilson, and Seth D. Zimmerman, using data from a low-income urban school district, offers some encouraging news for choice advocates:

[W]e use unique daily data on individual-level student absences and suspensions to show that lottery winners have significantly lower truancies after they learn about lottery outcomes but before they enroll in their new schools. The effects are largest for male students entering high school, whose truancy rates decline by 21% in the months after winning the lottery.

How do the authors interpret this finding? Read More »



Dream On, Valiant Austrian! An Economics Sonnet

This comes from reader Alex Entz:

I wrote a Shakespearean sonnet in iambic pentameter about economics for an English class of mine at Northwestern this past quarter and, spurred on by the rash of “Fed Valentines,” thought I’d take a decidedly Austrian approach. Now that the class is done, I figured that I should pass it along to some people who, unlike my English professor, would perhaps appreciate its economic aspects more than its rhythmic and metrical aspects.

Read More »



What Would the World Look Like if Economists Were in Charge?

We’ve just released the third episode of our Freakonomics Radio podcast, and this one strikes close to the heart of many readers. It asks a simple speculative question: What would the world look like if economists were in charge? Read More »



Hayek Propped Up by Government Intervention

Sunday’s New York Times reported on attempts by the Texas Board of Education to rewrite the high school curriculum in accordance with its conservative values. So I find the raw ideological force exerted by these “educators” to be both striking and dispiriting. Read More »



Serious Academic Debate

Only at the University of Chicago. A while back, the university made plans to start a Milton Friedman Institute. It has been the source of some controversy. The latest installment is reported in the student newspaper, the Chicago Maroon. The beginning of the article is a little boring — but definitely read to the end, […] Read More »



No Free Lunch, Even for Royalty

L. Gordon Crovitz writes in today’s Wall Street Journal about the dispute at the University of Chicago over whether to name its new institute after Milton Friedman. In making the point that the U. of C. strives to be resolutely apolitical, even in the awarding of honors, Crovitz includes this delicious anecdote: The mayor of […] Read More »