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This is a transcript of the Freakonomics Radio podcast “What Do Skating Rinks, Ultimate Frisbee, and the World Have in Common?” [MUSIC: Glenn Crytzer and His Syncopators, “Century Stomps” (from Harlem Mad)] Dan KLEIN: Hi, I’m Dan Klein. I’m a professor of economics at George Mason University. I got into economics very much from a […] Read More »
One day last spring, I saw in a Google alert that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) had announced that it was for the first time making public a consumer complaint database. At the time, I was teaching a course in Empirical Law & Economics at Yale and decided to call an audible. I came into class that day and projected the raw data (which you can see for yourself by clicking here) and asked the class how we might make use of the information.
With incredible dispatch, Jeff Lingwall and Sonia Steinway merged the complaint data with other datasets and together we started to put together an initial draft analyzing the complaint information. When the CFPB made the database public, they actively encouraged “the public, including consumers, analysts, developers, data scientists, civic hackers, and companies that serve consumers, to analyze, augment, and build on the public database to develop ways for consumers to access the complaint data or mash it up with other public data sets.” This paper is our attempt to respond to the Bureau’s call to action. Read More »
This is a transcript of the Freakonomics Radio podcast “The Troubled Cremation of Stevie the Cat.” [MUSIC: The Diplomats of Solid Sound, “Pistol Alien” (from Let’s Cool One)] Stephen J. Dubner: Hey podcast listeners: you are about to hear a new episode of Freakonomics Radio, called “The Troubled Cremation of Stevie the Cat.” I think […] Read More »
[MUSIC: The Diplomats of Solid Sound, “Growin’ In It” (from Destination... Get Down!)] Stephen J. DUBNER: Steve Levitt is my Freakonomics friend and co-author. He teaches at the University of Chicago. DUBNER: Hey, Levitt so we are going to do something today that we’ve never done before on this program, which is beg. […] Read More »
How to Think About Money, Choose Your Hometown, and Buy an Electric Toothbrush: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast Full Transcript
This is a transcript of the Freakonomics Radio podcast “How to Think About Money, Choose Your Hometown, and Buy an Electric Toothbrush.” [MUSIC: John Philip Sousa, “Manhattan Beach” (from J.P. Sousa’s Marches and Dances)] Stephen J. DUBNER: Hey Levitt, what are your very favorite three letters in the English alphabet? Steven D. LEVITT: I […] Read More »
Last year, we did a podcast on college tuition which discussed the growing gap between a college’s “sticker price” and the actual tuition paid by low- and middle-income working families. In order to demystify this gap — and help low-income families understand that many expensive private colleges are actually well within their reach — Wellesley College has just released a “Quick College Cost Estimator” calculator.
“The conversation that takes place around college costs is largely misguided,” Phillip B. Levine, an economics professor at Wellesley, told David Leonhardt of the Times. “People focus only on the sticker price. The sticker price is a meaningful statistic for roughly 40 percent of our students. The majority of our students are receiving financial aid, and for them the sticker price is an irrelevant number.” While The College Board and Harvard have similar calculators, Leonhardt likes the simplicity of Wellesley’s version. “The larger point is that Wellesley’s calculator is a significant step in the growing effort to spread accurate information about college costs,” writes Leonhardt. ”As Mr. Levine says, the widespread misunderstanding of tuition ‘clos
This is a transcript of the Freakonomics Radio podcast “Who Are the Most Successful Immigrants in the World?“ [MUSIC: Soulglue, “Steve McQueen” (from Arboretum)] Stephen J. DUBNER: Once upon a time, I was on a plane with Nassim Taleb. He is a philosopher of sorts, and he writes fascinating books – most recently The […] Read More »
At the core of the debate over the value of college is a collage of evidence showing that it produces better lifetime outcomes not just in income but in health and happiness. How does this happen? And how can we be sure that we aren’t just seeing a selection bias — i.e., that people who go to college would have been richer, healthier, and happier in any case?
Here’s a new working paper (abstract; PDF), by Kasey Buckles, Andreas Hagemann, Ofer Malamud, Melinda Morrill, and Abigail Wozniak which purports to show the long-term health effects of a college education. Granted, their data stretches back to the Vietnam War draft (a good instrumental variable, which other researchers have used) but their findings are significant nonetheless.
We exploit exogenous variation in college completion induced by draft-avoidance behavior during the Vietnam War to examine the impact of college completion on adult mortality. Our preferred estimates imply that increasing college completion rates from the level of the state with the lowest induced rate to the highest would decrease
cumulative mortality by 28 percent relative to the mean. Most of the reduction in mortality is from deaths due to cancer and heart disease. We also explore potential mechanisms, including differential earnings, health insurance, and health behaviors, using data from the Census, ACS, and NHIS.
Differential earnings and health insurance are of course related to the income boost that college graduates receive. It is the “health behaviors” that are learned/adopted by college graduates that are especially interesting.