Russ Roberts

Happiness and Behavioral Economics Podcast Episodes and Extras

Category Archive with 37 podcast episodes and extras
 

Deaton on Health, Wealth, and Poverty

EconTalk Episode with Angus Deaton
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Angus Deaton of Princeton University and author of the Great Escape talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the book--the vast improvements in health and standard of living in recent times. Deaton surveys the improvements in life expectancy and income both in the developed and undeveloped world. Inequality of both health and wealth are discussed as well. The conversation closes with a discussion of foreign aid and what rich nations can do for the poor.

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Stevenson and Wolfers on Happiness, Growth, and the Reinhart-Rogoff Controversy

EconTalk Episode with Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, of the University of Michigan talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about their work on the relationship between income and happiness. They argue that there is a positive relationship over time and across countries between income and self-reported measures of happiness. The second part of the conversation looks at the recent controversy surrounding work by Reinhart and Rogoff on the relationship between debt and growth. Stevenson and Wolfers give their take on the controversy and the lessons for economists and policy-makers. This conversation was recorded shortly before Betsey Stevenson was nominated to the President's Council of Economic Advisers.

Size: 29.8 MB
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Rosenberg on the Nature of Economics

EconTalk Episode with Alex Rosenberg
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Alex Rosenberg of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the scientific nature of economics. Rosenberg, a philosopher of science talks about whether economics is a science. He surveys the changes in economics over the last 25 years--the rise of experimental economics and behavioral economics--and argues that economics has become more scientific and that economists have become more aware of flaws in economic theory. But he also argues that economics is unable to make precise predictions about the effects of various changes in policy and behavior. The conversation closes with a discussion of the role the philosophy of science can play in the evolution of economics.

Size: 26.3 MB
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Frank on Competition, Government, and Darwin

EconTalk Episode with Robert Frank
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Robert Frank of Cornell University and author of The Darwin Economy talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about competition, government and the relevance of Darwin for economics. In a lively and spirited discussion, Frank argues that because people care about their relative standing with their neighbors, standard conclusions about the virtues of competition are misleading. He argues that competition is often wasteful and he suggests directions for tax policy and other forms of government intervention to take these effects into accounts.

Size: 29.2 MB
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Satz on Markets

EconTalk Episode with Debra Satz
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Debra Satz, Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book, Why Some Things Should Not Be For Sale: The Moral Limits of the Market. Satz argues that some markets are noxious and should not be allowed to operate freely. Topics discussed include organ sales, price spikes after natural disasters, the economic concept of efficiency and utilitarianism. The conversation includes a discussion of the possible limits of political intervention and whether it would be good to allow voters to sell their votes.

Size: 28.6 MB
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Otteson on Adam Smith

EconTalk Episode with James Otteson
Hosted by Russ Roberts

James Otteson of Yeshiva University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Adam Smith. The conversation begins with a brief sketch of David Hume and his influence on Smith and then turns to the so-called Adam Smith problem--the author of The Wealth of Nations appears to have a different take on human nature than the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Smith worked on both books throughout his life, yet their perspectives seem so different. Otteson argues that the books focus on social behavior and the institutions that sustain that behavior--market transactions in The Wealth of Nations and moral behavior in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Both books use the idea of emergent order to explain the evolution of both kinds of social behavior and social institutions. The conversation concludes with a discussion of what Smith got right and wrong.

Size: 32.7 MB
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Munger on Exchange, Exploitation and Euvoluntary Transactions

EconTalk Episode with Mike Munger
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Mike Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the psychology, sociology, and economics of buying and selling. Why are different transactions that seemingly make both parties better off frowned on and often made illegal? In theory, all voluntary transactions should make both parties better off. But Munger argues that some transactions are more voluntary than others. Munger lists the attributes of a truly voluntary transaction, what he calls a euvoluntary transaction and argues that when transactions are not euvoluntary, they may be outlawed or seen as immoral. Related issues that are discussed include price gouging after a natural disaster, blackmail, sales of human organs, and the employment of low-wage workers.

Size: 28.8 MB
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Buchholz on Competition, Stress, and the Rat Race

EconTalk Episode with Todd Buchholz
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Todd Buchholz, author of Rush: Why You Need and Love the Rat Race, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book. Buchholz argues that competition and striving for excellence is part of our evolutionary inheritance. He criticizes attempts to remake human beings into gentle creatures who long to return to an Eden-like serenity. He argues that it is action, creativity, and planning for the future that makes us happy. The discussion includes the implications of our interest in the future for theater and story-telling.

Size: 27.4 MB
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Harford on Adapt and the Virtues of Failure

EconTalk Episode with Tim Harford
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Tim Harford, author and journalist, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Adapt, Harford's book on the virtues of failure and the trial and error process. Harford argues that success is more likely when there is experimentation and trial and error followed by adapting, rather than following a top-down, ex ante plan driven by expertise. The conversation looks at the what war can teach us about information, knowledge, and planning, the challenge of admitting mistakes, and the implications of trial and error for our daily lives.

Size: 26.9 MB
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Rubinstein on Game Theory and Behavioral Economics

EconTalk Episode with Ariel Rubinstein
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Ariel Rubinstein of Tel Aviv University and New York University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of game theory and behavioral economics, two of the most influential areas of economics in recent years. Drawing on his Afterword for the 60th anniversary edition of Von Neumann and Morgenstern's Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, Rubinstein argues that game theory's successes have been quite limited. Rubinstein, himself a game theorist, argues that game theory is unable to yield testable predictions or solutions to public policy problems. He argues that game theorists have a natural incentive to exaggerate its usefulness. In the area of behavioral economics, Rubinstein argues that the experimental results (which often draw on game theory) are too often done in ways that are not rigorous. The conversation concludes with a plea for honesty about what economics can and cannot do.

Size: 27.9 MB
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Coyle on the Economics of Enough

EconTalk Episode with Diane Coyle
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Diane Coyle, author of The Economics of Enough, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the future and the ideas in her book. Coyle argues that the financial crisis, the entitlement crisis, and climate change all reflect a failure to deal with the future appropriately. The conversation ranges across a wide range of issues including debt, the financial sector, and the demographic challenges of an aging population that is promised generous retirement and health benefits. Coyle argues for better measurement of the government budget and suggests ways that the political process might be made more effective.

Size: 26.9 MB
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Cowen on the Great Stagnation

EconTalk Episode with Tyler Cowen
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Tyler Cowen of George Mason University and author of the e-book The Great Stagnation talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book. Cowen argues that in the last four decades, the growth in prosperity for the average family has slowed dramatically in the United States relative to earlier decades and time periods. Cowen argues that this is the result of a natural slowing in innovation and that we expect too much growth relative to what is possible. Cowen expects improvements in the rate of growth in the future when new areas of research yield high returns. The conversation includes a discussion of the implications of Cowen's thesis for politics and public policy.

Size: 27.8 MB
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Robert Frank on Inequality

EconTalk Episode with Robert Frank
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Robert Frank of Cornell University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about inequality. Is there a role for public policy in mitigating income inequality? Is such intervention justified or effective? The conversation delves into both the philosophical and empirical evidence behind differing answers to these questions. Ultimately, Frank argues for a steeply rising tax rate on consumption that would reduce disparities in consumption. This is a lively back-and-forth about a very timely topic.

Size: 28.3 MB
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de Botton on the Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

EconTalk Episode with Alain de Botton
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Author Alain de Botton talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work. How has the nature of work changed with the increase in specialization? Why is the search for meaningful work a modern phenomenon? Has the change in the workplace changed parenting? Why does technology become invisible? These are some of the questions discussed by de Botton in a wide-ranging discussion of the modern workplace and the modern worker.

Size: 27.1 MB
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Daniel Pink on Drive, Motivation, and Incentives

EconTalk Episode with Dan Pink
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Daniel Pink, author of Drive, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about drive, motivation, compensation, and incentives. Pink discusses the implications of using monetary rewards as compensation in business and in education. Much of the conversation focuses on the research underlying the book, Drive, research from behavioral psychology that challenges traditional claims by economists on the power of monetary and other types of incentive. The last part of the conversation turns toward education and the role of incentives in motivating or demotivating students.

Size: 36.2 MB
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McArdle on Debt and Self-Restraint

EconTalk Episode with Megan McArdle
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Megan McArdle, who writes the blog Asymmetrical Information at The Atlantic, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about debt and the challenge of self-restraint. She discusses her recent Atlantic article on her experience at a Dave Ramsey personal finance seminar, how it affected her life, and the psychology of self-restraint. The conversation concludes with a discussion of debt and savings during the Great Depression and the current national debt of the United States.

Size: 35.8 MB
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Cowen on Culture, Autism, and Creating Your Own Economy

EconTalk Episode with Tyler Cowen
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Tyler Cowen of George Mason University and author of Create Your Own Economy talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his recent book. The conversation ranges across a wide array of topics related to information, the arts, and the culture of the internet. Topics include how autistics perceive information and what non-autistics can learn from them, what Buddhism might teach us about our digital lives, the pace of change in the use of technology, Nozick's experience machine and the relative importance of authenticity and what the Alchian and Allen theorem has to do with the internet and culture.

Size: 26.0 MB
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Munger on Cultural Norms

EconTalk Episode with Mike Munger
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about cultural norms--the subtle signals we send to each other in our daily interactions. Mike, having returned from a four-month stint as a visiting professor in Germany, talks about the challenges of being an American in a different culture with very different expectations on how people will interact. Our speech patterns, how we wait in line, how we treat each other at the grocery, the interaction between a teacher and a student, how we drive, how we tip for services rendered, even how we listen to music all emerge from our culture and are often different in different countries. The listener will learn what Ted Williams and Joe Dimaggio have to do with the Book of Judges along with the relative merits of Williams and Dimaggio performances in 1941.

Size: 26.8 MB
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Richard Epstein on Happiness, Inequality, and Envy

EconTalk Episode with Richard Epstein
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the relationship between happiness and wealth, the effects of inequality on happiness, and the economics of envy and altruism. He also applies the theory of evolution to explain some of the findings of the happiness literature.

Size: 26.1 MB
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Bernstein on Inequality

EconTalk Episode with William Bernstein
Hosted by Russ Roberts

William Bernstein, author of A Splendid Exchange, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about inequality. Bernstein is worried about it; Roberts is not. Bernstein argues that inequality is damaging to the health of low-status people and hurts the health of the economy. Roberts challenges Bernstein's empirical evidence. It's a lively conversation on the economics of status, productivity and the progressivity of taxes.

Size: 25.9 MB
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Coyle on the Soulful Science

EconTalk Episode with Diane Coyle
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Diane Coyle talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in her new book, The Soulful Science: What Economists Really Do and Why it Matters. The discussions starts with the issue of growth--measurement issues and what economists have learned and have yet to learn about why some nations grow faster than others and some don't grow at all. Subsequent topics include happiness research, the politics and economics of inequality, the role of math in economics, and policy areas where economics has made the greatest contribution.

Size: 29.5 MB
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Marglin on Markets and Community

EconTalk Episode with Stephen Marglin
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Stephen Marglin of Harvard University and author of The Dismal Science: How Thinking Like an Economist Undermines Community talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the markets and community. Marglin argues that markets and commercial transactions undermine the connections between us. He wants people to pay more attention to what is lost and not just what is gained by the pursuit of material well-being. Topics discussed include the nature of community, the role that voluntary associations play in our lives, the costs and benefits of mobility, the role of insurance in reducing our dependence on each other, and the nature of knowledge.

Size: 30.0 MB
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Vernon Smith on Rationality in Economics

EconTalk Episode with Vernon Smith
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Nobel Laureate Vernon Smith of Chapman University and George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his new book, Rationality in Economics: Constructivist and Ecological Forms. They discuss the social and human sides of exchange, the robust nature of equilibrium in experiments and the real world, the seeming contradiction between Adam Smith's two great works, the unpredictability of how innovation emerges and its rationality, what neuroscience might tell us about economic decision-making, and the challenges of small-group intimate exchange and our interactions with strangers in the extended order of the marketplace.

Size: 28.0 MB
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Sowell on Economic Facts and Fallacies

EconTalk Episode with Thomas Sowell
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Thomas Sowell of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his new book, Economic Facts and Fallacies. He discusses the misleading nature of measured income inequality, CEO pay, why nations grow or stay poor, the role of intellectuals and experts in designing public policy, and immigration.

Size: 30.4 MB
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Sunstein on Worst-case Scenarios

EconTalk Episode with Cass Sunstein
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Sunstein.jpgCass Sunstein of the University of Chicago talks about the ideas in his latest book, Worst-Case Scenarios. How should individuals and societies cope with low-probability events with potentially catastrophic consequences? In this conversation with EconTalk host Russ Roberts, Sunstein discusses the uselessness of the precautionary principle as a guide to behavior and the psychological challenges we all face in coping with uncertain, risky events. He also speculates why we have chosen politically to treat terrorism and global warming so differently.

Size: 29.5 MB
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Robert Frank on Economics Education and the Economic Naturalist

EconTalk Episode with Robert Frank
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Author Robert Frank of Cornell University talks about economic education and his recent book, The Economic Naturalist. Frank argues that the traditional way of teaching economics via graphs and equations often fails to make any impression on students. In this conversation with host Russ Roberts, Frank outlines an alternative approach from his new book, where students find interesting questions and enigmas from everyday life. They then try to explain them using the economic way of thinking. Frank and Roberts discuss a number of the enigmas and speculate on the future of economics and education. The topics discussed include tuxedos vs. wedding dresses, the level of civility (or lack thereof) in New York City, the difference between vending machines for soda and newspapers, the tragedy of the commons, and the economics of love.

Size: 31.7 MB
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Cowen on Your Inner Economist

EconTalk Episode with Tyler Cowen
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Tyler CowenTyler Cowen, of George Mason University, talks about his new book, Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist. Cowen, legendary blogger at MarginalRevolution.com, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economics of parenting, reading, dentistry, art museums and education. Highlights include Tyler's favorite art museum and what to see there along with the challenges of being a tourist in Morocco.

Size: 26.8 MB
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Dan Pink on How Half Your Brain Can Save Your Job

EconTalk Episode with Dan Pink
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Author Dan Pink talks about the ideas in his book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. He argues that the skills of the right side of the brain--skills such as creativity, empathy, contextual thinking and big picture thinking--are going to become increasingly important as a response to competition from low-wage workers overseas and our growing standard of living.

Size: 30.8 MB
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Hanson on Health

EconTalk Episode with Robin Hanson
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Robin Hanson, of George Mason University, argues that health care is different, but not in the usual ways people claim. He describes a set of paradoxical empirical findings in the study of health care and tries to explain these paradoxes in a unified way. One of his arguments is that the human brain evolved in ways that make it hard for us to be rational about health care. He also discusses using prediction markets as a way of designing health care policy.

Size: 33.1 MB
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Vernon Smith on Markets and Experimental Economics

EconTalk Episode with Vernon Smith
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Vernon SmithVernon Smith, Professor of Economics at George Mason University and the 2002 Nobel Laureate in Economics, talks about experimental economics, markets, risk, behavioral economics and the evolution of his career.

Size: 15.2 MB
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Taleb on Black Swans

EconTalk Episode with Nassim Taleb
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Nassim Taleb talks about the challenges of coping with uncertainty, predicting events, and understanding history. This wide-ranging conversation looks at investment, health, history and other areas where data play a key role. Taleb, the author of Fooled By Randomness and The Black Swan, imagines two countries, Mediocristan and Extremistan where the ability to understand the past and predict the future is radically different. In Mediocristan, events are generated by a underlying random process that is normally distributed. These events are often physical and observable and they tend to cluster around the middle. Most people are near the average height and no adult is more than nine feet tall. But in Extremistan, the right-hand tail of events is thick and long and the outlier, the seemingly wildly unlikely event is more common than our experience with Mediocristan would indicate. Bill Gates is more than a little wealthier than the average. The civil war in Lebabon or the events of 9/11 were more worse than just a typical bad day in the Beirut or New York City. Taleb's contention is that we often bring our intuition from Mediocristan for the events of Extremistan, leading us to error. The result is a tendency to be blind-sided by the unexpected.

Size: 19.2 MB
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Cowen on Liberty, Art, Food and Everything Else in Between

EconTalk Episode with Tyler Cowen
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Tyler CowenTyler Cowen, co-blogger (with Alex Tabarrok) at MarginalRevolution.com, talks about liberty, global warming, using the courts vs. regulation to protect people, the challenges of leading a country out of poverty, the political economy of cuisine, and a quick overview of the Washington, DC. art museum scene.

EconTalk listeners were invited to email questions in advance of this podcast. See "Questions for Podcast Guests" at Cafe Hayek, for information about emailing questions for upcoming guests.

Size: 12.8 MB
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Easterbrook on the American Standard of Living

EconTalk Episode with Gregg Easterbrook
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Author Gregg Easterbrook talks about the ideas in his latest book, The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse. How has life changed in America over the last century? Is the average person getting ahead or are the rich taking all the gains? Easterbrook argues that life is better for the average American in almost every dimension. The paradox is that despite those gains, we don't seem much happier.

Size: 12.7 MB
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Viviana Zelizer on Money and Intimacy

EconTalk Episode with Viviana Zelizer
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Viviana Zelizer, Princeton University sociologist, talks about the ideas in her new book, The Purchase of Intimacy. Does money ruin intimacy? Does intimacy ruin our commercial transactions? Zelizer and host Russ Roberts have a lively conversation on the sometimes contentious border between economics and sociology.

Size: 12.6 MB
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Richard Thaler on Libertarian Paternalism

EconTalk Episode with Richard Thaler
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business defends the idea of libertarian paternalism--how government might use the insights of behavioral economics to help citizens make better choices. Host Russ Roberts accepts the premise that individuals make imperfect choices but challenges Thaler on the likelihood that government, in practice, will improve matters. Along the way they discuss the design of Sweden's social security system, organ donations and whether professors at Cornell University are more or less like you and me.

Size: 14.4 MB
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The Economics of Paternalism

EconTalk Episode with Edward Glaeser
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Economist Ed Glaeser of Harvard University talks with host Russ Roberts about the dangers of soft paternalism--various forms of government regulation that fall short of outright bans or taxes but that are meant to correct alleged flaws in the choices we make. Glaeser argues that while individuals do inevitably make mistakes, so do politicians, and the concentration of power in the hands of the few makes government "benevolence" particularly dangerous.

Size: 10.1 MB
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An Interview with Gary Becker

EconTalk Episode with Gary Becker
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Russ Roberts interviews Gary Becker on the challenges of being an intellectual maverick, the economic approach to human behavior, the influences of Adam Smith and Alfred Marshall on Becker's work and Becker's optimism for the future of economics.

Size: 6.9 MB
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