John List and Uri Gneezy have appeared on our blog many times. Now they have written a book, The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life. (The title, by the way, was crowdsourced on this blog). Below is the first in a series of guest posts adapted from the book; Gneezy spoke about this research in our podcast “Women Are Not Men.”
What can a Ball and Bucket Teach Us About Why Women Earn Less than Men?
By Uri Gneezy and John List
The sign on the road leading to the city of Shilong in the Khasi hills of northeast India had a puzzling message: “Equitable distribution of self-acquired property rights.” Later we’d find out that the sign was part of a nascent men’s movement, as the men in the Khasi society were not allowed to own property. We’d traveled across the world in search of such a parallel universe—one where men felt like “breeding bulls and babysitters”—because evidence in the U.S. was starting to point to a massive gap in preferences towards competition between the genders and we wanted to understand the reason why.
Our plan was to take a simple game to a matrilineal society (the Khasi) and patrilineal society (the Masai in Tanzania) and give participants just one choice: Earn a small certain payment for their performance in the game or earn a much bigger payment for their performance, but only if they also bested a randomly chosen competitor. The game we settled on? Tossing tennis balls into a bucket 3 meters away. The experiment was conducted with Kenneth Leonard as a coauthor. Read More »
A while back we held a contest for the new popular economics book written by Uri Gneezy and John List. The authors and their publishers picked some of their favorite title suggestions and then we ran a beauty contest to determine which title was most popular among blog readers. The deal was that the person who proposed the winning title would get $1,000. Another $1,000 was to be split between randomly selected beauty contest participants.
Before I tell you which title won, let me tell you about the naming of Freakonomics. We had such an impossibly hard time coming up with a good name until my sister Linda came up with “Freakonomics.” To make a long story short, the publishers hated that name for a long time, but finally gave in. The rest is history. Of course we were all just guessing — it would have been nice to have data, the way Uri and John did.
So what do the data say? The winner of the beauty contest, with 33 percent of the votes, was The Carrot that Moved A Mountain: How the Right Incentives Shape the Economics of Everyday Life. Congratulations to Ivy Tantuco who proposed that title and collected the $1,000 prize.(Congratulations also to Jenna Dargie and Melinda Reiss, who were the randomly chosen beauty contest winners and pocketed $500 each.) Read More »
A couple weeks ago, Uri Gneezy and John List asked our blog readers to come up with titles for their new book. And our readers did not disappoint! There were over 400 suggestions, many of them brilliant.
The authors and their editors have now narrowed it down to five choices, and they once again are asking for your help in deciding on the final title. There is no better way to solicit that input than — you guessed it — a field experiment. To get you interested, they are putting up another $1,000 in prizes to participants.
The rules are simple: You go here and answer two simple questions.
First, you will be asked to choose which of the five titles you think will be the most popular among all the respondents. They don’t want to know your favorite title, they want to know the title you think other people will like best. Read More »
My close friend, colleague, and frequent co-author John List has written a popular (non-academic) book with another economist, Uri Gneezy. John and Uri are pioneers in the area of “field experiments” which bring the power of randomized experiments into real-world settings. In my opinion, field experiments are the future of empirical economics. We’ve written at length in our books and on our blog about the amazing work these two have been doing. I’ve had the chance to read John and Uri’s book, and I loved it.
The thing they can’t figure out, however, is what to call the book! If only my sister Linda – the greatest namer of things the world has ever known — were still around, she would figure out a great title for sure. In her absence, they’ve asked if I could mobilize the collective genius of you, the Freakonomics blog readers.
Okay, so here is the deal. Below, I’ve provided some information on the book and links to some materials that might prove useful to you in coming up with a name. You have two days to generate great titles for the book, which you can submit as comments on this blog post. Read More »
Our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast is called “Women Are Not Men.” (You can subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript below; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)
As Stephen Dubner says:
DUBNER: Equality of the sexes has long been a goal, and in many ways that goal is being met. But, as you’ll hear on this program, the variance between men and women on some dimensions is still large. … We’re not trying to start any arguments. We’re just trying to look at the data that show differences between men and women to figure out why those differences exist, and how meaningful they are.
The first story you’ll hear is about the gender gap among editors of the world’s biggest encyclopedia. Bourree Lam (the editor of this blog) looks at why only 16% of Wikipedia’s editors are female — which is puzzling in that women outnumber men on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and even in online games.
Next, you’ll hear about female-male differences in competition. Economist Uri Gneezy and a group of researchers got to study competition in the Masai tribe in Tanzania (which is extremely patriarchal) and the Khasi tribe in India (one of the world’s few matrilineal societies). When it comes to competition, Gneezy says, nurture is key: Read More »
Included in the hubbub leading up to the final Harry Potter installment is a prediction exchange in which participants bet on whether Harry lives or dies — although betting has now been influenced by an anonymous Web spoiler claiming insider knowledge that the hero doesn’t meet an untimely doom. Gelf magazine has an interview with […] Read More »