Freakonomics Radio

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Freakonomics co-author Stephen J. Dubner uncovers the hidden side of everything. Why is it safer to fly in an airplane than drive a car? How do we decide whom to marry? Why is the media so full of bad news? Also: things you never knew you wanted to know about wolves, bananas, pollution, search engines, and the quirks of human behavior. Join the Freakonomics Radio Plus membership program for weekly member-only episodes of Freakonomics Radio. You’ll also get every show in our network without ads. To sign up, visit our show page on Apple Podcasts or go to read less

Our Editor's Take

Freakonomics Radio looks at the hidden side of things like the economy and human behavior. Steve Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner introduced their style of analysis in the blockbuster book Freakonomics in 2005. On the podcast, the duo uses data to help listeners understand the world around them. They interview leading experts to get to the bottom of intriguing real-world problems. The show aims to answer difficult questions. Past topics have included "Why Are There So Many Bad Bosses?" and "Is 'Toxic Positivity' a Thing?" along with many more.

With counterintuitive takes such as exploring why traffic jams are actually good for us, they help to show the world in a whole new light. This light is shone with the help of expert opinions and guests. Guests on the show include bestselling author Alexandra Horowitz and economist Chris Paxson.

Each episode tackles a specific topic and uses data and stories to answer questions in a new way. The results are often unexpected. Themes range from politics to culture and are always topical. Freakonomics Radio helps listeners forge a new view of contemporary life. No matter what the topic, Freakonomics Radio always provides listeners with fascinating insights.

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Society & CultureSociety & Culture
513. Should Public Transit Be Free? (Update)
513. Should Public Transit Be Free? (Update)
It boosts economic opportunity and social mobility. It’s good for the environment. So why do we charge people to use it? The short answer: it’s complicated. Also: We talk to the man who gets half the nation’s mass-transit riders where they want to go (most of the time).  SOURCES:Marcus Finbom, traffic planner in Stockholm, Sweden.Robbie Makinen, former president and C.E.O. of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority.Janno Lieber, chair and C.E.O. of the M.T.A. in New York City.Brian Taylor, professor of urban planning and public policy and director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at U.C.L.A.Shashi Verma, director of strategy and C.T.O. at Transport for London.Michelle Wu, mayor of Boston. RESOURCES:"Free Bus Service Starts Sunday on 5 Routes in New York City," by Ana Ley (The New York Times, 2023).“Vehicle Access and Falling Transit Ridership: Evidence From Southern California,” by Michael Manville, Brian D. Taylor, Evelyn Blumenberg, and Andrew Schouten (Transportation, 2023).“Route-28 Fare-Free Pilot Evaluation: Summary Findings,” by the City of Boston Transportation (2022).“Forget Fare Hikes — Make the T Free,” by Michelle Wu (The Boston Globe, 2019).Traffic Power Structure, by (2016)."The Impacts of Neighborhoods on Intergenerational Mobility: Childhood Exposure Effects and County-Level Estimates," by Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren (NBER Working Paper, 2015)."Fare, Free, or Something in Between?" by Jennifer S. Perone and Joel M. Volinski (World Transit Research, 2003).Planka.Nu. EXTRAS:"Why Is the U.S. So Good at Killing Pedestrians?" by Freakonomics Radio (2023)."Should Public Transit Be Free?" by Freakonomics Radio (2022).“Should Traffic Lights Be Abolished?” by Freakonomics Radio (2021).“The Perfect Crime,” by Freakonomics Radio (2014).“Parking Is Hell,” by Freakonomics Radio (2013).
565. Are Private Equity Firms Plundering the U.S. Economy?
Nov 16 2023
565. Are Private Equity Firms Plundering the U.S. Economy?
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)
Nov 9 2023
480. How Much Does Discrimination Hurt the Economy? (Replay)
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).