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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


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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




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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 CoreyStephanie DrescherMax KapustinJens LudwigSandy Jo MacArthurSean MalinowskiSindyanna Paul-NoelMichael Wolley RESOURCES:Policing Leadership Academy (PLA) Graduation of Inaugural CohortPolicing and ManagementNBER Working Paper, Getting More Out of Policing in the U.S.VoxEU, University of Chicago Crime Lab Launches National Policing and Community Violence Intervention Leadership AcademiesWhat Drives Differences in Management?NBER Working Paper, Management as a Technology?NBER Working Paper, Measuring and Explaining Management Practices Across Firms and CountriesNBER Working Paper, Crime, Urban Flight, and the Consequences for CitiesSSRN, EXTRAS:Why Are There So Many Bad Bosses?Freakonomics Radio What Are the Police for, Anyway?Freakonomics Radio


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 FinbomRobbie MakinenJanno LieberBrian TaylorShashi VermaMichelle Wu RESOURCES: Free Bus Service Starts Sunday on 5 Routes in New York CityThe New York Times, Vehicle Access and Falling Transit Ridership: Evidence From Southern CaliforniaTransportation, Route-28 Fare-Free Pilot Evaluation: Summary FindingsForget Fare Hikes — Make the T FreeThe Boston Globe, Traffic Power Structure, The Impacts of Neighborhoods on Intergenerational Mobility: Childhood Exposure Effects and County-Level EstimatesNBER Working Paper, Fare, Free, or Something in Between?World Transit Research, Planka.Nu EXTRAS: Why Is the U.S. So Good at Killing Pedestrians?Freakonomics Radio Should Public Transit Be Free?Freakonomics Radio Should Traffic Lights Be Abolished?Freakonomics Radio The Perfect CrimeFreakonomics Radio Parking Is HellFreakonomics Radio


566. Why Is It So Hard (and Expensive) to Build Anything in America?

Most industries have become more productive over time. But not construction! We identify the causes — and possible solutions. (Can you say ... “prefab”?) RESOURCES: The Strange and Awful Path of Productivity in the US Construction SectorBFI Working Paper, Infrastructure CostsAmerican Economic Journal: Applied, The Silicon Valley Elite Who Want to Build a City From ScratchThe New York Times, A Decent Home EXTRAS: Edward Glaeser Explains Why Some Cities Thrive While Others Fade AwayPeople I (Mostly) Admire Why Are Cities (Still) So Expensive?Freakonomics Radio SOURCES: Vaughan BuckleyCarrie Sturts DossickEd GlaeserMichael HoughIvan RupnikChad Syverson


Extra: Jason Kelce Hates to Lose

Pro footballer and star podcaster Jason Kelce is ubiquitous right now (almost as ubiquitous as his brother and co-host Travis, who's been in the limelight for his relationship with Taylor Swift). After you hear this wide-ranging interview, you might want even more Kelce in your life. RESOURCES: N.F.L. Player Team Report CardsKelce, New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce,EXTRAS: When Is a Superstar Just Another Employee?Freakonomics Radio SOURCES: Jason Kelce


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, Two and Twenty: How the Masters of Private Equity Always Win, Local Journalism under Private Equity OwnershipNBER Working Paper, Owner Incentives and Performance in Healthcare: Private Equity Investment in Nursing HomesNBER Working Paper, Leveraged Buyouts and Financial DistressFinance Research Letters, Have Private Equity Owned Nursing Homes Fared Worse Under COVID-19?SSRN, When Investor Incentives and Consumer Interests Diverge: Private Equity in Higher EducationThe Review of Financial Studies, The Economic Effects of Private Equity BuyoutsSSRN, How Acquisitions Affect Firm Behavior and Performance: Evidence from the Dialysis IndustryThe Quarterly Journal of Economics, In Silicon Valley, Even Mobile Homes Are Getting Too Pricey for Longtime ResidentsLos Angeles Times, The Operational Consequences of Private Equity Buyouts: Evidence from the Restaurant IndustrySSRN, Private Equity and EmploymentNBER Working Paper, EXTRAS: Should You Trust Private Equity to Take Care of Your Dog?Freakonomics Radio Do You Know Who Owns Your Vet?Freakonomics Radio Mobile Home ParksThe Economics of Everyday Things The Secret Life of a C.E.O.Freakonomics Radio Extra: David Rubenstein Full InterviewFreakonomics Radio SOURCES: Brendan BallouDan GlickbergHannah HowardSachin Khajuria


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 GermanyJournal of Political Economy,Diversity and Performance in Entrepreneurial TeamsSSRN,Systemic Discrimination Among Large U.S. EmployersNBER Working Papers, City of Champions: A History of Triumph and Defeat in Detroit, The Allocation of Talent and U.S. Economic GrowthEconometrica,Genius & Anxiety: How Jews Changed the World, 1847-1947, And the Children Shall Lead: Gender Diversity and Performance in Venture CapitalNBER Working Papers,The Political Economy of HatredThe Quarterly Journal of Economics, Statistical Theories of Discrimination in Labor MarketsIndustrial and Labor Relations Review,The Economics of DiscriminationEXTRAS: A New Nobel Laureate Explains the Gender Pay Gap (Replay)Freakonomics Radio Edward Glaeser Explains Why Some Cities Thrive While Others Fade AwayPeople I (Mostly) Admire What Are the Secrets of the German Economy — and Should We Steal Them?Freakonomics RadioSOURCES: Kilian HuberSilke-Maria WeineckSophie Calder-Wang


564. How to Succeed at Failing, Part 4: Extreme Resiliency

Everyone makes mistakes. How do you learn from them? Lessons from the classroom, the Air Force, and the world’s deadliest infectious disease. RESOURCES: Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well, You Think Failure Is Hard? So Is Learning From ItPerspectives on Psychological Science, The Market for R&D FailuresSSRN, Performing a Project PremortemHarvard Business Review, EXTRAS: How to Succeed at FailingFreakonomics Radio Moncef Slaoui: 'It’s Unfortunate That It Takes a Crisis for This to HappenPeople I (Mostly) Admire SOURCES: Will ColemanAmy EdmondsonBabak JavidGary KleinTheresa MacPhailRoy ShalemSamuel West


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 EducationAmerican Association of University ProfessorsGrit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Entrepreneurship and the U.S. EconomyA CV of FailuresNature, EXTRAS How to Succeed at FailingFreakonomics Radio Annie Duke Thinks You Should QuitPeople I (Mostly) Admire How Do You Know When It’s Time to Quit?No Stupid Questions Honey, I Grew the Economy,Freakonomics Radio The Upside of QuittingFreakonomics Radio The Ramen Now - Rapid Desktop Cooking for Delicious MealsSOURCES: John BoykinAngela DuckworthNo Stupid QuestionsAmy EdmondsonHelen FisherEric von Hippel,Jill HoffmanGary KleinSteve LevittPeople I (Mostly) AdmireFreakonomicsJoseph O’ConnellMike RidgemanMelanie StefanTravis Thul


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, Reconsidering the Application of Systems Thinking in Healthcare: The RaDonda Vaught CaseBritish Journal of Anaesthesia, Dispelling the Myth That Organizations Learn From FailureSSRN, A New, Evidence-Based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated With Hospital CareJournal of Patient Safety, To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System, Polymers for the Sustained Release of Proteins and Other MacromoleculesNature, EXTRAS: How to Succeed at FailingFreakonomics Radio Will a Covid-19 Vaccine Change the Future of Medical Research?Freakonomics Radio Bad Medicine, Part 3: Death by DiagnosisFreakonomics Radio SOURCES: Amy EdmondsonCarole HemmelgarnGary KleinRobert LangerJohn Van Reenen


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. RESOURCES Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well, Michigan School Shooter Is Found Eligible for Life Sentence Without ParoleThe New York Times, How Fire Turned Lahaina Into a Death TrapThe New York Times, The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic, I Was Almost A School ShooterTEDxBoulder, EXTRAS Is Perfectionism Ruining Your Life?People I (Mostly) Admire Why Did You Marry That Person?Freakonomics Radio What Do We Really Learn From Failure?No Stupid Questions How to Fail Like a ProFreakonomics Radio Failure Is Your FriendFreakonomics Radio SOURCES: Amy EdmondsonHelen FisherEd GaleaGary KleinDavid RiedmanAaron StarkJohn Van Reenen


232. A New Nobel Laureate Explains the Gender Pay Gap (Replay)

Claudia Goldin is the newest winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics. We spoke with her in 2016 about why women earn so much less than men — and how it’s not all explained by discrimination. SOURCES: Claudia Goldin


560. Is This “the Worst Job in Corporate America” — or Maybe the Best?

John Ray is an emergency C.E.O., a bankruptcy expert who takes over companies that have succumbed to failure or fraud. He’s currently cleaning up the mess left by alleged crypto scammer Sam Bankman-Fried. And he loves it. RESOURCES: United States of America v. Samuel Bankman-Fried, a/k/a 'SBF,'Does FTX’s New CEO Have the Worst Job in Corporate America?The Wall Street Journal, John J. Ray III, a St. Joseph’s Grad From Pittsfield, Is Earning $1,300 an Hour to Sort Out the Remains of the FTX Cryptocurrency CollapseThe Berkshire Eagle, 'Pit Bull' Fights to Pick Up Enron's PiecesChicago Tribune, EXTRAS: The Secret Life of a C.E.O.Freakonomics Radio Did Michael Lewis Just Get Lucky with Moneyball?Freakonomics Radio Does the Crypto Crash Mean the Blockchain Is Over?Freakonomics Radio What Can Blockchain Do for You?Freakonomics Radio SOURCES: John Ray


559. Are Two C.E.O.s Better Than One?

If two parents can run a family, why shouldn’t two executives run a company? We dig into the research and hear firsthand stories of both triumph and disaster. Also: lessons from computer programmers, Simon and Garfunkel, and bears versus alligators. RESOURCES:How Allbirds Lost Its WayIs It Time to Consider Co-C.E.O.s?The Costs and Benefits of Pair Programming,Strengthening the Case for Pair Programming, EXTRAS:The Facts Are In: Two Parents Are Better Than OneThe Secret Life of a C.E.O. SOURCES:Jim BalsillieMike Cannon-BrookesScott FarquharMarc FeigenJeffrey SonnenfeldLaurie Williams


558. The Facts Are In: Two Parents Are Better Than One

In her new book The Two-Parent Privilege, the economist Melissa Kearney says it’s time for liberals to face the facts: U.S. marriage rates have plummeted but the babies keep coming, and the U.S. now leads the world in single-parent households. Plus: our friends at Atlas Obscura explore just how many parents a kid can have.


557. When Is a Superstar Just Another Employee?

The union that represents N.F.L. players conducted their first-ever survey of workplace conditions, and issued a report card to all 32 teams. What did the survey reveal? Clogged showers, rats in the locker room — and some helpful insights for those of us who don’t play pro football. For show notes, visit


556. A.I. Is Changing Everything. Does That Include You?

For all the speculation about the future, A.I. tools can be useful right now. Adam Davidson discovers what they can help us do, how we can get the most from them — and why the things that make them helpful also make them dangerous. (Part 3 of "How to Think About A.I.")


555. New Technologies Always Scare Us. Is A.I. Any Different?

Guest host Adam Davidson looks at what might happen to your job in a world of human-level artificial intelligence, and asks when it might be time to worry that the machines have become too powerful. (Part 2 of "How to Think About A.I.")


554. Can A.I. Take a Joke?

Artificial intelligence, we’ve been told, will destroy humankind. No, wait — it will usher in a new age of human flourishing! Guest host Adam Davidson (co-founder of Planet Money) sorts through the big claims about A.I.'s future by exploring its past and present — and whether it has a sense of humor. (Part 1 of "How to Think About A.I.")


553. The Suddenly Diplomatic Rahm Emanuel

The famously profane politician and operative is now U.S. ambassador to Japan, where he’s trying to rewrite the rules of diplomacy. But don’t worry: When it comes to China, he’s every bit as combative as you’d expect.


Should Traffic Lights Be Abolished? (Ep. 454 Replay)

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?