Last week, we solicited your questions for economist Emily Oster, a Freakonomics favorite and author of the new book Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong-and What You Really Need to Know. Oster’s answers are below and address everything from how fertility declines with age to whether pregnant women can still safely indulge in caffeine, fish, and transatlantic travel. A big thanks to Emily — and to all of you for your excellent questions. Read More »
If you’ve ever been pregnant, or been close to someone who is pregnant, you know how many prohibitions there are. You can’t smoke or drink. Shellfish are to be avoided. In my house, conveniently (for the pregnant woman), scooping the cat litter was absolutely out of the question. Of course, there are also a large number of things you have to do when you are pregnant or are thinking of getting pregnant, like take folic acid.
Is there any evidence to support all these pregnancy rules? My good friend and colleague Emily Oster (whose research has been featured in SuperFreakonomics and many times on the blog), has just written the definitive book on the subject, entitled Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong-and What You Really Need to Know. She has generously agreed to answer blog reader questions, so fire away in the comments section below and, as always, we’ll post her answers in good time!
Here’s the Table of Contents to get you started: Read More »
Last week, we solicited your questions for Ray Fisman and Tim Sullivan, authors of The Org: The Underlying Logic of the Office. Below you will find their very interesting answers. Thanks to all for playing along, and especially to Fisman and Sullivan.
Q. I work in an office with stark contrasts in the cultures of different departments. Has there been research on the success/failures of forcing departments to assimilate/work together more? -Drew
A. A 2003 experiment by economists Colin Camerer and Roberto Weber was designed to speak to exactly the question you’re asking: What are the challenges of cross-cultural interaction, and what difficulties present themselves when two distinct cultures are forced together?
Each participant in their experiment viewed a matrix of sixteen office scenes on a computer screen. The participants were randomly paired up and put in the roles of “manager” and “employee.” Managers’ screens highlighted and numbered eight of the pictures. Their job was to communicate to the employee, through instant messaging, the eight highlighted scenes in order. The employee had to identify the picture the manager was describing. Simple enough. Read More »
If these topics interest you even a little bit, then you might want to check out The Org: The Underlying Logic of the Office, a new book by Ray Fisman and Tim Sullivan. Fisman, who has appeared on the blog before, teaches at Columbia, writes at Slate, and is the co-author of Economic Gangsters; Sullivan is the editorial director of Harvard Business Review Press. Read More »
We recently solicited your questions for Peter D. Feaver, Sue Wasiolek, and Anne Crossman, the authors of Getting the Best Out of College. Your questions ran the gamut and so do their replies. Thanks to all for participating. And feel free to check out our podcast on the value of a college education, “Freakonomics Goes to College” (Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and together as an hour-long special).
Q. Michael Pollan summed up his philosophy of nutrition in seven words: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Do you have similarly pithy advice for students trying to maximize their college experience? Don’t feel limited to seven words – I’m just looking for something aphoristic. -Glen Davis
A. Your choices in college matter more than your choices of college, so choose wisely. Read More »
We recently put out a two-part podcast called “Freakonomics Goes to College” (Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and together as an hour-long special). The main question we tried to answer was if, and on what dimensions, a college education is “worth it” — i.e., whether the returns to education are as robust as we’ve been led to think. (Short answer: yes.) Along the way, we talked to economists including David Card, Betsey Stevenson, and Justin Wolfers, and poked into the market for counterfeit degrees.
But let’s say you’re interested in the question from a practical, rather than a theoretical, perspective. That is, let’s say you’re an actual college student, or related to one, already deep in the throes of higher education, and that your primary question is: Okay, now what? Now that I’m here, what do I do to get the very most out of this expensive, time-consuming endeavor?
Glad you asked. Peter D. Feaver, Sue Wasiolek, and Anne Crossman are the authors of Getting the Best Out of College: Insider Advice for Success From a Professor, a Dean, and a Recent Grad, and they have agreed to field questions from Freakonomics readers. Read More »
We recently solicited your questions for Hanna Rosin, author of the new book The End of Men (and the Rise of Women). Here now are her replies, which include an explanation of the book’s title and possible solutions to the wage gap. Thanks to everyone for playing along, and especially to Rosin for fielding so many of your good questions.
Q. What do you think about the feminization of higher education; that is, more female faculty and administrators resulting in more policy creation by women or influenced by them? -Gary
A. This has been the conservative explanation for why boys are having trouble in schools. It was advanced, for example, by Christina Hoff Sommers in her 2000 Atlantic story “The War Against Boys.” I think it’s a valid but somewhat limited explanation. For one thing, it’s not new. Psychologist G. Stanley Hall began promoting this theory in 1908 in his influential essay “Feminization in School and Home.” The problem with it is it implies a kind of coordinated conspiracy by women to influence young minds. The truth is that women have taken over teaching because, as has happened often in our economy, once women start to enter a profession the men tend to flee. That’s really the men’s problem, as I see it, not the women’s. It would be fabulous and solve a lot of problems if more men would become teachers. It also has to do with the fact that teaching is one of the rare profession in the U.S. that allows for enough flexibility for a parent to be able to spend a reasonable amount of time with his or her family, both on a weekly basis and on summer vacations. That’s the fault of the American workforce, which is so resistant to flexible working and a reasonable amount of vacation time. Read More »
“In the Great Recession, three-quarters of the 7.5 million jobs lost were lost by men,” writes Hanna Rosin, author of the new book The End of Men (and the Rise of Women). “The worst-hit industries were overwhelmingly male, and deeply identified with macho: construction, manufacturing, high finance. Some of those jobs have come back, but the dislocation is neither random nor temporary. The recession merely revealed — and accelerated — a profound economic shift that has been going on for at least thirty years, and in some respects even longer.”
Rosin’s book (here are some reviews), based on her controversial 2010 Atlantic essay, explores the new American marriage divide, the education gap between young men and women around the world, and the new Asian power women. Read More »