Episodes
Economist and Nobel Laureate James Heckman of the University of Chicago talks about inequality and economic mobility with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Drawing on research on inequality in Denmark with Rasmus Landerso, Heckman argues that despite the efforts of the Danish welfare state to provide equal access to education, there is little difference in economic mobility between the United States and Denmark. The conversation includes a general discussion of economic mobility in the United...
Published 07/26/21
Journalist and author Michael Easter talks about his book The Comfort Crisis with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Easter thinks modern life is too easy, too comfortable. To be healthy, he says, we need to move out of our comfort zones and every once in a while try to do something, especially something physically demanding, that we didn't think was possible. Easter discusses rising levels of anxiety and depression in the West and why taking on challenges can be part of the solution.
Published 07/19/21
Economist Don Boudreaux of George Mason University talks about the pandemic with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Boudreaux argues that a perfect storm of factors created a huge overreaction, including unnecessary lockdowns that accomplished little at a very high cost in physical and emotional health. Instead, Boudreaux argues, we should have focused attention on the population most at risk of dying from COVID--the elderly and especially the elderly with co-morbidities. The conversation includes a...
Published 07/12/21
Claudia Hauer of St. John's College and the Air Force Academy talks about her book Strategic Humanism with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Topics discussed include war, rage, terrorism, and what a modern warrior might learn from Homer.
Published 07/05/21
Journalist and author Sebastian Junger talks about his book, Freedom, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The book and conversation are based on a 400-mile walk Junger took with buddies along railroad rights-of-way, evading police, railroad security, and other wanderers. Junger discusses the ever-present tension between the human desire to be free and the desire to be interconnected and part of something. Along the way, Junger talks about the joy of walking, the limits of human endurance, war,...
Published 06/28/21
Economist and author Anja Shortland of King's College London talks about her new book, Lost Art, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. When a famous painting disappears into the underworld of stolen art, how does it make its way back into the legitimate world of auction houses and museums? Drawing on the archives of a private database of stolen objects--the Art Loss Register--Shortland discusses the economics of the art world when objects up for sale may be the result of theft.
Published 06/21/21
Author and economist Donald Shoup of UCLA talks about destructive parking policies with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Shoup argues that most parking policies inflict unseen damage on the economy. He urges cities to charge for curbside parking and use the proceeds to improve the neighborhood beyond the curb. Stroup also explains the surprising harm done by requiring new buildings to provide a minimum level of off-street parking.
Published 06/14/21
Author Ian Leslie talks about his book Conflicted with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Leslie argues that, far from being a negative thing, conflict is often the essential ingredient that helps us get to the right answer or best solution. Because some of our best thinking comes in collaboration with others, learning how to disagree civilly when our views conflict is the key to productive conversation in business and in marriage. The conversation includes a surprising defense of confirmation bias.
Published 06/07/21
Economist Bruce Meyer of the University of Chicago talks about poverty with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. In recent years, a number of scholars have claimed that millions of Americans live in extreme poverty, akin to the standard of living in the poorest countries around the world. Meyer argues that these studies are based on flawed surveys or particular assumptions that may not be justified. The conversation also addresses broader challenges around measuring mobility and the American Dream.
Published 05/31/21
Journalist and author Jason Riley talks about race with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Riley argues that the challenges facing Black America go beyond racial discrimination and the threat of police violence. He argues that both the history of Black Americans and the current situation has been distorted by activists who benefit from that distorted picture.
Published 05/24/21
Podcaster and author Julia Galef talks about her book The Scout Mindset with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Galef urges us to be more rational--to be open-minded about what we might discover about the world--rather than simply defend what we already believe, which she calls the soldier mindset. The conversation is a wide-ranging discussion of our biases and the challenges of viewing the world objectively.
Published 05/17/21
Philosopher Agnes Callard of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about anger. Is anger something we should vilify and strive to eradicate in ourselves? Or should we accept it as a necessary and appropriate human emotion? Callard takes a fresh look at anger and has much to say about jealousy, desire, and forgiveness as well.
Published 05/10/21
Behavioral scientist Katy Milkman of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania talks about her book How to Change with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. What can we learn from research in psychology and behavioral economics about breaking the habits we want to change? Is that research reliable? And should Russ Roberts accept being overweight or keep working at finding the thinner man trying to get out?
Published 05/03/21
Author and poet Roya Hakakian talks about her latest book, A Beginner's Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hakakian was born in Iran and came to the United States as a 19 year-old, not speaking any English, and carrying only the things she could stuff in her backpack. She tells Russ about the love affair she's had with her adopted country as well as where there is room for improvement.
Published 04/26/21
Sociologist and author Mark Rank talks about his book, Poorly Understood, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Rank looks at a wide variety of aspects of poverty. He argues that many widely-held views on poverty are inaccurate, and in particular he argues that most Americans will be poor at some point in their lives. This is a wide-ranging and lively conversation on the nature of poverty and the challenge of ending or reducing it.
Published 04/19/21
Psychologist Emiliana Simon-Thomas of the University of California, Berkeley talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the science of happiness--what research can teach us about happiness.
Published 04/12/21
Blogger, author, podcaster, economist Tyler Cowen of George Mason University discusses the lessons learned from the pandemic with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Appearing roughly one year after his first conversation on the pandemic, Cowen revisits the predictions he made then and what he has learned for the next time.
Published 04/05/21
Max Kenner, founder and executive director of the Bard Prison Initiative--which offers college degrees to prisoners--talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the program, which replicates the coursework of students at Bard College. The Bard Prison Initiative was profiled in a four-part PBS documentary, College Behind Bars. Kenner talks about the origins of the program, what students experience, and the injustice he sees in both the criminal justice system and the educational system in the...
Published 03/29/21
Whether it's a pandemic or a Texas-sized ice storm that leaves millions of people without power, we'd like to avoid a repetition. Megan McArdle of the Washington Post talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenge of learning the right lessons from the current crisis in order to prevent the next one. McArdle argues that we frequently learn the wrong lessons from the past in trying to prevent the harm from the catastrophes that might be waiting in our future.
Published 03/22/21
Psychologist and author Sherry Turkle of MIT talks about her book, The Empathy Diaries, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The Empathy Diaries is a memoir about Turkle's secretive family and how that secrecy turned Turkle into an acute observer, skilled at revealing the story behind the story. She also chronicles the early days of artificial intelligence and the evolution of the computer. Topics in this conversation include the challenges of family, the role of technology in our lives, the...
Published 03/15/21
Leon Kass, long-time teacher of classic works at the University of Chicago and now Dean of Faculty at Shalem College in Jerusalem, talks about human flourishing with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Drawing on an essay from his book, Leading a Worthy Life, Kass gives a broad overview of Aristotle's ideas on how to live. This episode also discusses the listeners' votes for their Top 10 EconTalk podcast episodes for 2020.
Published 03/08/21
Economist and author Michael Munger of Duke University talks about human wants and desires with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Human beings have desires about our desires. Can we change what we want? And how should economists and normal human beings think about doing the right thing, what we often call morality? Is acting morally self-interested behavior or is it possible to act selflessly?
Published 03/01/21
Would the impact of the pandemic have been different if government and policymakers had been more open to more market-based responses and less committed to a top-down approach? Economist John Cochrane of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the pandemic and the policy response. Cochrane believes outcomes would have been much better if governments, in the United States and elsewhere, had embraced approaches that relied more on market forces.
Published 02/22/21
Poet and author Dana Gioia talks about his book Studying with Miss Bishop with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. They talk about the craft of being a poet, the business world, mentorship, loss, why poetry no longer seems to matter, and how it might begin to matter again.
Published 02/15/21
Lamorna Ash talks about her book Dark, Salt, Clear with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Ash leaves London and moves to the small fishing village of Newlyn, near where her mother grew up on the Cornish coast. In Newlyn, everything revolves around fishing. Ash gets herself a bunk on a trawler and quickly learns how to gut fish with sharp knives on a rocking boat in the middle of the night. And so much more.
Published 02/08/21