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Freakonomics Radio

Discover the hidden side of everything with Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of the Freakonomics books. Each week, Freakonomics Radio tells you things you always thought you knew (but didn’t) and things you never thought you wanted to know (but do) — from the economics of sleep to how to become great at just about anything. Dubner speaks with Nobel laureates and provocateurs, intellectuals and entrepreneurs, and various other underachievers. The entire archive, going back to 2010, is available on the Stitcher podcast app and at freakonomics.com.

565. Are Private Equity Firms Plundering the U.S. Economy?

Freakonomics Radio

  • 240 views
  • 4 months ago
  • 55:48

They say they make companies more efficient through savvy management. Critics say they bend the rules to enrich themselves at the expense of consumers and employees. Can they both be right? (Probably not.) RESOURCES:Plunder: Private Equity's Plan to Pillage America, by Brendan Ballou (2023).Two and Twenty: How the Masters of Private Equity Always Win, by Sachin Khajuria (2022)."Local Journalism under Private Equity Ownership," by Michael Ewens, Arpit Gupta, and Sabrina T. Howell (NBER Working Paper, 2022).“Owner Incentives and Performance in Healthcare: Private Equity Investment in Nursing Homes,” by Atul Gupta, Sabrina T. Howell, Constantine Yannelis, and Abhinav Gupta (NBER Working Paper, 2021).“Leveraged Buyouts and Financial Distress,” by Brian Ayash and Mahdi Rastad (Finance Research Letters, 2021).“Have Private Equity Owned Nursing Homes Fared Worse Under COVID-19?” by Ashvin Gandhi, YoungJun Song, and Prabhava Upadrashta (SSRN, 2020).“When Investor Incentives and Consumer Interests Diverge: Private Equity in Higher Education,” by Charlie Eaton, Sabrina T. Howell, and Constantine Yannelis (The Review of Financial Studies, 2020).“The Economic Effects of Private Equity Buyouts,” by Steven J. Davis, John Haltiwanger, Kyle Handley, Ben Lipsius, Josh Lerner, and Javier Miranda (SSRN, 2019).“How Acquisitions Affect Firm Behavior and Performance: Evidence from the Dialysis Industry,” by Paul J. Eliason, Benjamin Heebsh, Ryan C. McDevitt, and James W. Roberts (The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2019)."In Silicon Valley, Even Mobile Homes Are Getting Too Pricey for Longtime Residents," by Tracy Lien (Los Angeles Times, 2017).“The Operational Consequences of Private Equity Buyouts: Evidence from the Restaurant Industry,” by Shai Bernstein and Albert Sheen (SSRN, 2013)."Private Equity and Employment," by Steven J. Davis, John C. Haltiwanger, Ron S. Jarmin, Josh Lerner, and Javier Miranda (NBER Working Paper, 2011).EXTRAS:"Should You Trust Private Equity to Take Care of Your Dog?" by Freakonomics Radio (2023)."Do You Know Who Owns Your Vet?" by Freakonomics Radio (2023)."Mobile Home Parks," by The Economics of Everyday Things (2023)."The Secret Life of a C.E.O.," series by Freakonomics Radio (2018)."Extra: David Rubenstein Full Interview," by Freakonomics Radio (2018).

480. How Much Does Discrimination Hurt the Economy? (Replay)

Freakonomics Radio

  • 240 views
  • 4 months ago
  • 01:02:47

Evidence from Nazi Germany and 1940’s America (and pretty much everywhere else) shows that discrimination is incredibly costly — to the victims, of course, but also the perpetrators. One modern solution is to invoke a diversity mandate. But new research shows that’s not necessarily the answer. RESOURCES:"Discrimination, Managers, and Firm Performance: Evidence from 'Aryanizations' in Nazi Germany," by Kilian Huber, Volker Lindenthal, and Fabian Waldinger (Journal of Political Economy, 2021)."Diversity and Performance in Entrepreneurial Teams," by Sophie Calder-Wang, Paul A. Gompers, and Kevin Huang (SSRN, 2021)."Systemic Discrimination Among Large U.S. Employers," by Patrick M. Kline, Evan K. Rose, and Christopher R. Walters (NBER Working Papers, 2021).City of Champions: A History of Triumph and Defeat in Detroit, by Silke-Maria Weineck and Stefan Szymanski (2020)."The Allocation of Talent and U.S. Economic Growth," by Chang-Tai Hsieh, Erik Hurst, Charles I. Jones, and Peter J. Klenow (Econometrica, 2019).Genius & Anxiety: How Jews Changed the World, 1847-1947, by Norman Lebrecht (2019)."And the Children Shall Lead: Gender Diversity and Performance in Venture Capital," by Paul A. Gompers and Sophie Q. Wang (NBER Working Papers, 2017)."The Political Economy of Hatred," by Edward Glaeser (The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2005)."Statistical Theories of Discrimination in Labor Markets," by Dennis J. Aigner and Glen G. Cain (Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 1977).The Economics of Discrimination, by Gary S. Becker (1957).EXTRAS:"A New Nobel Laureate Explains the Gender Pay Gap (Replay)," by Freakonomics Radio (2023)."Edward Glaeser Explains Why Some Cities Thrive While Others Fade Away," by People I (Mostly) Admire (2021)."What Are the Secrets of the German Economy — and Should We Steal Them?" by Freakonomics Radio (2017).

456. How to Fix the Hot Mess of U.S. Healthcare

Freakonomics Radio

  • 1.4K views
  • almost 3 years ago
  • 51:52

Medicine has evolved from a calling into an industry, adept at dispensing procedures and pills (and gigantic bills), but less good at actual health. Most reformers call for big, bold action. What happens if, instead, you think small? 

Policymaking Is Not a Science (Yet) (Ep. 405 Rebroadcast)

Freakonomics Radio

  • 970 views
  • almost 3 years ago
  • 46:01

Why do so many promising solutions — in education, medicine, criminal justice, etc. — fail to scale up into great policy? And can a new breed of “implementation scientists” crack the code?

How Does New York City Keep Reinventing Itself? (Bonus)

Freakonomics Radio

  • 830 views
  • almost 3 years ago
  • 52:28

In a word: networks. Once it embraced information as its main currency, New York was able to climb out of a deep fiscal (and psychic) pit. Will that magic trick still work after Covid? In this installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, guest host Kurt Andersen interviews Thomas Dyja, author of New York, New York, New York: Four Decades of Success, Excess and Transformation.

455. Are You Ready for a Fresh Start?

Freakonomics Radio

  • 970 views
  • almost 3 years ago
  • 44:03

Behavioral scientists have been exploring if — and when — a psychological reset can lead to lasting change. We survey evidence from the London Underground, Major League Baseball, and New Year’s resolutions; we look at accidental fresh starts, forced fresh starts, and fresh starts that backfire. And we wonder: will the pandemic’s end provide the biggest fresh start ever?

454. Should Traffic Lights Be Abolished?

Freakonomics Radio

  • 1.1K views
  • almost 3 years ago
  • 45:18

Americans are so accustomed to the standard intersection that we rarely consider how dangerous it can be — as well as costly, time-wasting, and polluting. Is it time to embrace the lowly, lovely roundabout?

453. A Rescue Plan for Black America

Freakonomics Radio

  • 850 views
  • almost 3 years ago
  • 56:47

New York Times columnist Charles Blow argues that white supremacy in America will never fully recede, and that it’s time for Black people to do something radical about it. In The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto, he urges a “reverse migration” to the South to consolidate political power and create a region where it’s safe to be Black. (This is an episode of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club.)

452. Jeff Immelt Knows He Let You Down

Freakonomics Radio

  • 880 views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 45:48

Not so long ago, G.E. was the most valuable company in the world, a conglomerate that included everything from light bulbs and jet engines to financial services and The Apprentice. Now it’s selling off body parts to survive. What does the C.E.O. who presided over the decline have to say for himself? 

451. Can I Ask You a Ridiculously Personal Question?

Freakonomics Radio

  • 770 views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 42:25

Most of us are are afraid to ask sensitive questions about money, sex, politics, etc. New research shows this fear is largely unfounded. Time for some interesting conversations!

450. How to Be Better at Death

Freakonomics Radio

  • 790 views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 57:38

Caitlin Doughty is a mortician who would like to put herself out of business. Our corporate funeral industry, she argues, has made us forget how to offer our loved ones an authentic sendoff. Doughty is the author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory. In this installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, she is interviewed by guest host Maria Konnikova.

449. How to Fix the Incentives in Cancer Research

Freakonomics Radio

  • 760 views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 44:15

For all the progress made in fighting cancer, it still kills 10 million people a year, and some types remain especially hard to detect and treat. Pancreatic cancer, for instance, is nearly always fatal. A new clinical-trial platform could change that by aligning institutions that typically compete against one another.

447. How Much Do We Really Care About Children?

Freakonomics Radio

  • 790 views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 50:58

They can’t vote or hire lobbyists. The policies we create to help them aren’t always so helpful. Consider the car seat: parents hate it, the safety data are unconvincing, and new evidence suggests an unintended consequence that is as anti-child as it gets.

446. “We Get All Our Great Stuff from Europe — Including Witch Hunting.”

Freakonomics Radio

  • 780 views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 42

We’ve collected some of our favorite moments from People I (Mostly) Admire, the latest show from the Freakonomics Radio Network. Host Steve Levitt seeks advice from scientists and inventors, memory wizards and basketball champions — even his fellow economists. He also asks about quitting, witch trials, and whether we need a Manhattan Project for climate change. 

Trust Me (Ep. 266 Rebroadcast)

Freakonomics Radio

  • 910 views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 31:45

Societies where people trust one another are healthier and wealthier. In the U.S. (and the U.K. and elsewhere), social trust has been falling for decades — in part because our populations are more diverse. What can we do to fix it?

445. Why Do We Seek Comfort in the Familiar?

Freakonomics Radio

  • 830 views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 36:56

In this episode of No Stupid Questions — a Freakonomics Radio Network show launched earlier this year — Stephen Dubner and Angela Duckworth debate why we watch, read, and eat familiar things during a crisis, and if it might in fact be better to try new things instead. Also: is a little knowledge truly as dangerous as they say? 

444. How Do You Cure a Compassion Crisis?

Freakonomics Radio

  • 840 views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 48:50

Patients in the U.S. healthcare system often feel they’re treated with a lack of empathy. Doctors and nurses have tragically high levels of burnout. Could fixing the first problem solve the second? And does the rest of society need more compassion too?

PLAYBACK (2015): Could the Next Brooklyn Be ... Las Vegas?!

Freakonomics Radio

  • 810 views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 57:02

Tony Hsieh, the longtime C.E.O. of Zappos, was an iconoclast and a dreamer. Five years ago, we sat down with him around a desert campfire to talk about those dreams. Hsieh died recently from injuries sustained in a house fire; he was 46.

441. Does Advertising Actually Work? (Part 2: Digital)

Freakonomics Radio

  • 1.3K views
  • over 3 years ago
  • 50:51

Google and Facebook are worth a combined $2 trillion, with the vast majority of their revenue coming from advertising. In our previous episode, we learned that TV advertising is much less effective than the industry says. Is digital any better? Some say yes, some say no — and some say we’re in a full-blown digital-ad bubble.

“Don’t Neglect the Thing That Makes You Weird” | People I (Mostly) Admire: Ken Jennings

Freakonomics Radio

  • 1.1K views
  • over 3 years ago
  • 50:37

It was only in his late twenties that America’s favorite brainiac began to seriously embrace his love of trivia. Now he holds the “Greatest of All Time” title on Jeopardy! Steve Levitt digs into how he trained for the show, what it means to have a "geographic memory," and why we lie to our children.