The Annual Freakonomics Kentucky Derby Predictions

Almost a decade of blogging had worn me down, but after some time off, I'm ready to jump back in the saddle. I can't think of a better way than by embarrassing myself with the annual Kentucky Derby predictions!

Read an Early Excerpt from When to Rob a Bank

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Freakonomics comes this curated collection from the most readable economics blog in the universe. When Freakonomics was first published, its authors, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, started a blog — and they’ve kept it up. The writing is more casual, more personal, even more outlandish than in their books. In When to Rob a Bank, they ask a host of typically off-center questions: Why don’t flight attendants get tipped? If you were a terrorist, how would you attack? And why does KFC always run out of fried chicken?

Religiosity: Good for Society, Bad for Innovation?

In a new working paper, Roland Benabou, Davide Ticchi, and Andrea Vindigni  follow up their earlier paper which found "a robust negative association between religiosity and patents per capita." Their new paper, "Religion and Innovation" (abstract; PDF), they look at religiosity on the individual level, "examining the relationship between religiosity and a broad set of pro- or anti-innovation attitudes."

Should I Work for an “Evil” Company?

A reader writes in with a question that is hard to answer. I thought it'd be best to put the question to you, our readers; hopefully you can help him find his way to a good decision.


I am an academic plant geneticists, who has worked at [a renowned academic institution] for the last five years. I've pretty much decided I want to leave academia but remain in science. The obvious direction to then go into is biotech and I think I could be a good fit for it. There are many options for me in biotech and I've applied for many jobs. The company that has been the most responsive to me is Monsanto.

A Would-Be Freakonomist in Kyrgyzstan Needs Your Help

From a reader named John Keaney: I just finished your book Think Like a Freak, and I’m trying to use the lessons in the book while I’m in Kyrgyzstan. I’m an undergraduate at University of South Carolina, and I’ve decided to pursue my very first, independent research project while I’m living in Kyrgyzstan on the […]

What Happens When Poor Pregnant Women Are Given Medicaid Coverage?

We’ll be putting out a new Freakonomics Radio episode later this week on the use of RCTs (randomized controlled trials) in healthcare delivery. It features the work of the MIT economist Amy Finkelstein and her colleagues at J-PAL, and it includes their analysis of what happened when Oregon expanded its Medicaid coverage. If you want […]

New Miracle Sleep Aid Discovered!

From a podcast listener named Jessica Graham in Sydney, Australia: My name is Jess and for most of my adult life I have been afflicted by various forms of sleeplessness. Would I call it insomnia? I don’t know if it could be classified as clinical insomnia, but all I can say is up until a […]

Great Companies Needed

My good friend and colleague John List has very ambitious summer plans.

We’ve both believed for a long time that the combination of creative economic thinking and randomized experiments has the potential to revolutionize business and the non-profit sector. John and I have worked to foment that revolution through both  academic partnerships with firms as well as a project of John's called the Science of Philanthropy Initiative (SPI), whose mission is "evidence-based research on charitable giving."

Lend Your Voice to Freakonomics Radio

We're working on an episode about behavior change -- essentially, how to get yourself to do the things you should be doing but often don't. It revolves around the fascinating research of Katy Milkman at Penn. For example, she and her colleagues have noted a "Fresh Start Effect":

The popularity of New Year’s resolutions suggests that people are more likely to tackle their goals immediately following salient temporal landmarks. ... We propose that these landmarks demarcate the passage of time, creating many new mental accounting periods each year, which relegate past imperfections to a previous period, induce people to take a big-picture view of their lives, and thus motivate aspirational behaviors.

Some Other Explanations for Why Public Bathrooms Are the Way They Are

From a podcast listener named Katie McGreer, some really interesting comment on our recent episode “Time to Take Back the Toilet“: I am an avid listener of the Freakonomics podcast and I just wanted to respond to the recent episode on noise in public washrooms (or the lack of buffers).  I was having a discussion […]