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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 freakonomics.com/plus. read less
Society & CultureSociety & Culture
567. Do the Police Have a Management Problem?
Yesterday
567. Do the Police Have a Management Problem?
In policing, as in most vocations, the best employees are often promoted into leadership without much training. One economist thinks he can address this problem — and, with it, America’s gun violence. SOURCESKenneth Corey, director of outreach and engagement for the Policing Leadership Academy at the University of Chicago and retired chief of department for the New York Police Department.Stephanie Drescher, operations captain in the City of Madison Police Department.Max Kapustin, assistant professor of economics and public policy at Cornell University.Jens Ludwig, economist and director of the Crime Lab at the University of Chicago.Sandy Jo MacArthur, curriculum design director for the Policing Leadership Academy at the University of Chicago.Sean Malinowski, D.O.J. strategic site liaison for the Philadelphia Police Department and retired chief of detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department.Sindyanna Paul-Noel, lieutenant with the City of Miami Police Department.Michael Wolley, deputy chief of operations with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. RESOURCES:"Policing Leadership Academy (PLA) Graduation of Inaugural Cohort," by the University of Chicago Crime Lab (2023)."Policing and Management," by Max Kapustin, Terrence Neumann, and Jens Ludwig (NBER Working Paper, 2022)."Getting More Out of Policing in the U.S.," by Jens Ludwig, Terrence Neumann, and Max Kapustin (VoxEU, 2022)."University of Chicago Crime Lab Launches National Policing and Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academies," by the University of Chicago Crime Lab (2022)."What Drives Differences in Management?" by Nicholas Bloom, Erik Brynjolfsson, Lucia Foster, Ron S. Jarmin, Megha Patnaik, Itay Saporta-Eksten, and John Van Reenen (NBER Working Paper, 2017)."Management as a Technology?" by Nicholas Bloom, Raffaella Sadun, and John Van Reenen (NBER Working Paper, 2017)."Measuring and Explaining Management Practices Across Firms and Countries," by Nick Bloom and John Van Reenen (NBER Working Paper, 2006)."Crime, Urban Flight, and the Consequences for Cities," by Julie Berry Cullen and Steven D. Levitt (SSRN, 1997). EXTRAS:"Why Are There So Many Bad Bosses?" by Freakonomics Radio (2022)."What Are the Police for, Anyway?" by Freakonomics Radio (2021).
513. Should Public Transit Be Free? (Update)
30-11-2023
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 Planka.nu (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?
16-11-2023
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).SOURCES:Brendan Ballou, special counsel at the Department of Justice.Dan Glickberg, venture-capital investor.Hannah Howard, food writer.Sachin Khajuria, investor.
480. How Much Does Discrimination Hurt the Economy? (Replay)
09-11-2023
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).SOURCES:Kilian Huber, professor of economics at the University of Chicago.Silke-Maria Weineck, professor of German studies and comparative literature at the University of Michigan.Sophie Calder-Wang, professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania.
563. How to Succeed at Failing, Part 3: Grit vs. Quit
26-10-2023
563. How to Succeed at Failing, Part 3: Grit vs. Quit
Giving up can be painful. That's why we need to talk about it. Today: stories about glitchy apps, leaky paint cans, broken sculptures — and a quest for the perfect bowl of ramen.  RESOURCES"Data Snapshot: Tenure and Contingency in US Higher Education," by Glenn Colby (American Association of University Professors, 2023).Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth (2016)."Entrepreneurship and the U.S. Economy," by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2016)."A CV of Failures," by Melanie Stefan (Nature, 2010).EXTRAS“How to Succeed at Failing,” series by Freakonomics Radio (2023)."Annie Duke Thinks You Should Quit," by People I (Mostly) Admire (2022)."How Do You Know When It’s Time to Quit?" by No Stupid Questions (2020).“Honey, I Grew the Economy,” by Freakonomics Radio (2019).“The Upside of Quitting," by Freakonomics Radio (2011)."The Ramen Now - Rapid Desktop Cooking for Delicious Meals," Kickstarter campaign by Travis Thul.SOURCES:John Boykin, website designer and failed paint can re-inventor.Angela Duckworth, host of No Stupid Questions, co-founder of Character Lab, and professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.Amy Edmondson, professor of leadership management at Harvard Business School.Helen Fisher, senior research fellow at The Kinsey Institute and chief science advisor to Match.com.Eric von Hippel, professor of technological innovation at M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management.Jill Hoffman, founder and C.E.O. of Path 2 Flight.Gary Klein, cognitive psychologist and pioneer in the field of naturalistic decision making.Steve Levitt, host of People I (Mostly) Admire, co-author of the Freakonomics books, and professor of economics at the University of Chicago.Joseph O’Connell, artist.Mike Ridgeman, advocacy manager at Trek Bicycles and former professor.Melanie Stefan, professor of physiology at Medical School Berlin.Travis Thul, director of operations and senior fellow at the University of Minnesota Technological Leadership Institute.
562. How to Succeed at Failing, Part 2: Life and Death
19-10-2023
562. How to Succeed at Failing, Part 2: Life and Death
In medicine, failure can be catastrophic. It can also produce discoveries that save millions of lives. Tales from the front line, the lab, and the I.T. department. RESOURCES:Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well, by Amy Edmondson (2023)."Reconsidering the Application of Systems Thinking in Healthcare: The RaDonda Vaught Case," by Connor Lusk, Elise DeForest, Gabriel Segarra, David M. Neyens, James H. Abernathy III, and Ken Catchpole (British Journal of Anaesthesia, 2022)."Dispelling the Myth That Organizations Learn From Failure," by Jeffrey Ray (SSRN, 2016)."A New, Evidence-Based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated With Hospital Care," by John T. James (Journal of Patient Safety, 2013).To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System, by the National Academy of Sciences (1999)."Polymers for the Sustained Release of Proteins and Other Macromolecules," by Robert Langer and Judah Folkman (Nature, 1976).EXTRAS:"How to Succeed at Failing," series by Freakonomics Radio (2023)."Will a Covid-19 Vaccine Change the Future of Medical Research?" by Freakonomics Radio (2020)."Bad Medicine, Part 3: Death by Diagnosis," by Freakonomics Radio (2016).SOURCES:Amy Edmondson, professor of leadership management at Harvard Business School.Carole Hemmelgarn, co-founder of Patients for Patient Safety U.S. and director of the Clinical Quality, Safety & Leadership Master’s program at Georgetown University.Gary Klein, cognitive psychologist and pioneer in the field of naturalistic decision making.Robert Langer, institute professor and head of the Langer Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.John Van Reenen, professor at the London School of Economics.
561. How to Succeed at Failing, Part 1: The Chain of Events
12-10-2023
561. How to Succeed at Failing, Part 1: The Chain of Events
We tend to think of tragedies as a single terrible moment, rather than the result of multiple bad decisions. Can this pattern be reversed? We try — with stories about wildfires, school shootings, and love. RESOURCESRight Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well, by Amy Edmondson (2023)."Michigan School Shooter Is Found Eligible for Life Sentence Without Parole," by Stephanie Saul and Dana Goldstein (The New York Times, 2023)."How Fire Turned Lahaina Into a Death Trap," by Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Serge F. Kovaleski, Shawn Hubler, and Riley Mellen (The New York Times, 2023).The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic, by Jillian Peterson and James Densley (2021)."I Was Almost A School Shooter," by Aaron Stark (TEDxBoulder, 2018).EXTRAS "Is Perfectionism Ruining Your Life?" by People I (Mostly) Admire (2023)."Why Did You Marry That Person?" by Freakonomics Radio (2022)."What Do We Really Learn From Failure?" by No Stupid Questions (2021)."How to Fail Like a Pro," by Freakonomics Radio (2019)."Failure Is Your Friend," by Freakonomics Radio (2014).SOURCES:Amy Edmondson, professor of leadership management at Harvard Business School.Helen Fisher, senior research fellow at The Kinsey Institute and chief science advisor to Match.com.Ed Galea, founding director of the Fire Safety Engineering Group at the University of Greenwich.Gary Klein, cognitive psychologist and pioneer in the field of naturalistic decision making.David Riedman, founder of the K-12 School Shooting Database.Aaron Stark, assistant manager at Kum & Go and keynote speaker.John Van Reenen, professor at the London School of Economics.