What’s the Most Important Psychological Experiment That’s Never Been Done?

That is the very good question posed on the British Psychological Society’s research blog. The answers, provided by leading psychologists, are even better. In many cases, it’s not that the experiments haven’t been done, but that they can’t be, often for ethical or practical reasons. But even if the proposed experiments are only thought experiments, […]

More Evidence on the (Lack of) Impact of School Choice

There is no policy economists love more than school choice. Milton Friedman was an early proponent. The idea certainly makes sense: if parents have the ability to choose the best schools for their children, outcomes should improve through both the better matching of kids to specific schools and the resulting competition that would force schools […]

The Debate on Female Happiness Heats Up

I blogged a few days back about the interesting new paper by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers analyzing trends in happiness by gender, and finding statistically significant reductions in how happy women are relative to men. Elsewhere on the Internet, the paper has drawn the ire of a number of bloggers. Stevenson and Wolfers have […]

Why Are Women So Unhappy?

I saw Justin Wolfers a few weeks back, and I joked with him that it had been months since I’d seen his research in the headlines. It didn’t take him long to fix that — he and his partner in life and economics, Betsey Stevenson, made the news twice last week. The first time was […]

Do Newspapers Use Economic News to Sway Public Opinion?

As Levitt has noted in the past, media bias is a hot topic among some economists. Typically the bias is reflected in a paper’s reporting (as Dubner pointed out here). But can newspapers also influence public opinion based on their coverage of economic matters? That’s the question addressed in the working paper “Partisan Bias in […]

The Science of Passing the Bar Exam: Does First-Year Torts Really Matter?

Every year, thousands of law school graduates leap into the nerve-wracking and costly process of preparing for the bar exam. The bar consists of two days of testing (three in California) on memorization and comprehension of specific areas of law. Failure is hardly uncommon: various estimates place the passage rate at roughly 70 percent, while […]

FREAK-TV: ‘All the Death Threats Came From the Left’

Video There’s a new Freakonomics video today, the third and final installment of Levitt talking about his academic research, co-authored by John Donohue, that linked a rise in legalized abortion to a drop in crime. (You can access Parts 1 and 2 in the thumbnail images beneath the video player.) In this piece, Levitt talks […]

Hatred and Profits: Getting Under the Hood of the Ku Klux Klan

That is the title of my latest academic working paper, written with Roland Fryer. It details the rise and fall of the Klan in the 1920s. Incredibly, the Klan had millions of members at that time, and most of them were reasonably well-educated. Based on a variety of data sources, we argue that, despite its […]

Are Health, Wealth and Happiness Linked Worldwide?

Levitt and Dubner have blogged quite a bit about the growing literature on happiness studies. Meanwhile, the media has been abuzz recently over the relationship (or possible lack thereof) between happiness and wealth. Enter Angus Deaton, a professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton. Deaton has a published new paper, “Income, Aging, Health and […]

The Most Surprising Thing I Learned Today

The most surprising thing I learned today comes from the opening paragraph of a paper by Anne Case and Christina Paxson: In late 19th Century Europe, adult height was attained at age 26. This is just one reminder of how radically life has changed in the last 100 years. At least in the developed world, […]