Netflix's 'Squid Game' shows how debt affects decision making : The Indicator from Planet Money In the Netflix show Squid Game, 456 desperate players compete to the death in a series of children's games for millions of dollars. How did their debt impact their decision making?

Squid Game: Debt, decisions, and the paradox of thrift

Squid Game: Debt, Decisions, and the Paradox of Thrift

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
MOHD RASFAN/AFP via Getty Images
Cosplayers dressed in outfits from the Netflix series &quot;Squid Game&quot; stand by a doll statue at a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur on October 20, 2021.
MOHD RASFAN/AFP via Getty Images

It didn't take long for the Korean Netflix show, Squid Game, to become the most-watched show on the streaming platform. After all, debt is a universal language.

If you don't know, Squid Game tells the story of cash-strapped people who volunteer to risk their lives playing deadly versions of children's games for a cash prize.

Although some people watching at home may balk at the idea of anyone subjecting themselves to that level of humiliation and danger, could crippling debt realistically drive someone to that extreme?

Today on the show, Harvard professor John Beshears explains how debt can affect our decision making.

Music by Drop Electric. Find us: Twitter / Facebook / Newsletter.

Subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, PocketCasts and NPR One.