Covid and the “Birthday Effect” (Freakonomics, M.D. Ep. 1)

Host Bapu Jena is an economist and medical doctor whose latest research measures the link between birthdays and Covid. He explains his team’s findings, explores the role that kids’ parties may have played, reveals whether politics made a difference, and convinces a Zoom magician to reveal the secrets of making virtual parties awesome. 

Is Hedonism Better Than Self-Control? (NSQ Ep. 25)

Also: is it wrong to feel inured to the pandemic?

Many Businesses Thought They Were Insured for a Pandemic. They Weren’t. (Ep. 437)

A fine reading of most policies for “business interruption” reveals that viral outbreaks aren’t covered. Some legislators are demanding that insurance firms pay up anyway. Is it time to rethink insurance entirely?

Why Are Cities (Still) So Expensive? (Ep. 435)

It isn’t just supply and demand. We look at the complicated history and skewed incentives that make “affordable housing” more punch line than reality in cities from New York and San Francisco to Flint, Michigan (!).

Will a Covid-19 Vaccine Change the Future of Medical Research? (Ep. 430)

We explore the science, scalability, and (of course) economics surrounding the global vaccine race. Guests include the chief medical officer of the first U.S. firm to go to Phase 3 trials with a vaccine candidate; a former F.D.A. commissioner who’s been warning of a pandemic for years; and an economist who thinks Covid-19 may finally change how diseases are cured.

Remembrance of Economic Crises Past (Ep. 425)

Christina Romer was a top White House economist during the Great Recession. As a researcher, she specializes in the Great Depression. She tells us what those disasters can (and can’t) teach us about the Covid crash.