Season 4, Episode 5
The practice of tipping is one of the most irrational, un-economic behaviors we engage in. It’s not in our economic best-interest to tip; essentially we do it because it’s a social norm — a nicety. In this episode of Freakonomics Radio, Stephen Dubner looks at why we tip, what kinds of things can nudge tips upward, and what’s wrong with tipping overall. In the end, we wonder whether or not the practice of tipping should be eliminated altogether. Research shows that African American waiters make less in tips than people of other races, so tipping is a discriminatory practice. Later in the hour: if your parent has the gene for Huntington’s disease you have a 50% chance of getting it yourself. Huntington’s is a debilitating fatal disorder. People can do genetic testing to see if they will fall ill, yet only 5% of people choose to do so. Stephen Dubner talks to University of Chicago economist Emily Oster about her research on Huntington’s genetic testing, and the value of not knowing your fate.
Season 5, Episode 24
This hour of Freakonomics Radio is all about tipping. As we all know, the practice of tipping can be awkward, random, and confusing. What you might not know is that it is discriminatory, and according to at least one academic’s research, correlates with corruption. We talk with a professor who has written over 50 papers on the subject.
Then, we explore the warped restaurant business model: kitchen wages are too low to hire cooks, while diners are put in charge of paying the waitstaff. So what happens if you eliminate tipping, raise menu prices, and redistribute the wealth? New York restaurant maverick Danny Meyer is about to find out.
It’s an acutely haphazard way of paying workers, and yet it keeps expanding. We dig into the data to find out why.
Tipping is an acutely haphazard way of paying workers, and yet it keeps expanding. We dig into the data to find out why. To find out more, check out the podcasts from which this hour was drawn: “Why Does Tipping Still Exist?” and “Why You Shouldn’t Open a Restaurant.”
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