Join BFI for an extra slice of The Pie, our expanded podcast series drawn from presentations and conversations with UChicago scholars on cutting edge research and key events of the day.
Nudge: The Final Edition Book Talk with Richard Thaler
How can a small nudge make a big impact? Since publishing the first edition of Nudge more than 10 years ago, Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler have changed the way businesses and governments design rules and regulations to influence people’s behavior and decision making. Tess Vigeland sat down with Thaler to discuss new material covered in Nudge: The Final Edition, including COVID-19, healthcare, retirement savings, credit card debt, home mortgages, organ donation, climate change, and even “sludge.”
Economics of Courage
Economists and policymakers alike rely on the “value of a statistical life” to make important trade-offs. What are the merits of such a calculation? Can it be improved? Economists Michael Greenstone and Kyle Greenberg join to discuss groundbreaking research examining army reenlistment choices to show how US soldiers, in effect, price the risk of certain career options.
Vaccine Lotteries: Worth a Shot?
More than a dozen states have announced large lotteries to incentivize vaccinations. On this episode, Steve Levitt and Jeff Severts examine the economics and likely outcomes of the policy strategy. Is this a lottery where everyone wins big? When it comes to cash prizes, does magnitude matter?
Pay Now or Pay Later
With the rise in federal spending over the last several years, there are questions on how the US will pay those bills. Chicago Booth economists Austan Goolsbee and Eric Zwick demystify which rate changes actually impact revenue and expose how economists think about infrastructure spending. Delving into the details on capital gains taxes, they discuss strategies to close loopholes and, ultimately, increase total revenues.
College Sports: Show Me The Money
Division I schools make billions off athletic programs, with close to two-thirds coming from men’s basketball and football alone. Economist Matt Matt Notowidigdo has calculated that due to NCAA restrictions, only 7% of those revenues are paid to student athletes, with important distributional consequences. He joins this week with sports attorney Michael McCann to discuss the economic dynamics, who benefits most, and what is at stake in future court cases over this controversial issue.
Discrimination is Expensive
Preventing people from entering careers where they could maximize their potential places massive costs on society, and economists can measure the real impact. Chang-Tai Hsieh and Erik Hurst have discovered that declining barriers to careers for women and Black men over the last 50 years accounts for 25-40% of all productivity growth in the US. They join to discuss the implications of their critical findings.
Review for this episode
4 stars for podcast overall so far just because this podcast was overall good and freakonomics gave it a good plug. Still wish there was slightly less of an interviewy commentary vibe and more of a learn economics vibe like with Freakonomics. I still like how it’s different though so I will happily keep listening and see where it goes from here 😊
But about the cost of a life episode: I’ve heard similar points of view to this episode, and am always left wondering... what is the total blow to the economy because of social distancing? If you added up the amount lost from GDP (from the start of social distancing to October 1) would that be a good estimate of the fallout? Or is there more loss than that? And does all that loss add up to less than $8 trillion, which is what this podcast estimates the cost of social distancing to be from start until October 1?
I started listening from episode 1 to see the take on the Pandemic from this group. It had been ok, not great. This episode, about climate change and Indian development, had nothing to do with the pandemic. Besides, why did nuclear energy not even get mentioned. It seems like the only viable way through this and not a peep.
You have to learn to filter the bias. Sometimes they do better than others. Episode 20 was a love fest with former Obama economist. The first part was informational and interesting. Then the decline into tribalism at the end. I think working together we can solve problems. If we try only what is tribal truth, we will fail. There are multiple stakeholders and everyone should have a voice. Neither party had foolproof answers for everything, just like economics.