The Pie Economists are always talking about The Pie - how it grows and shrinks, how it's sliced, and who gets the biggest shares. Join hosts Eduardo Porter and Tess Vigeland as they talk with leading economists from the University of Chicago and other experts about the most pressing matters of today. Hear how the economic pie is at the heart of issues like COVID-19 vaccine development, gender dynamics in the workplace, energy policy, jobs, and more.
The Pie

The Pie

From WBEZ Chicago

Economists are always talking about The Pie - how it grows and shrinks, how it's sliced, and who gets the biggest shares. Join hosts Eduardo Porter and Tess Vigeland as they talk with leading economists from the University of Chicago and other experts about the most pressing matters of today. Hear how the economic pie is at the heart of issues like COVID-19 vaccine development, gender dynamics in the workplace, energy policy, jobs, and more.

Most Recent Episodes

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.

Are Carbon Offsets Bogus?

Some of the world's largest companies (and biggest emitters of CO2) boast big investments in carbon offset programs to reduce their reported carbon footprint. Do these programs work ? If so, for whom? Michael Greenstone and Barbara Haya join to take a close look at proposed solutions to reducing on carbon emissions.

WFH... Forever?

The pandemic forced many Americans into a mass social experiment: working from home (WFH). Now, economists like Steve Davis are measuring the immediate and long-term impact of this massive shift. Davis and Kate Lister join this week to help us explore how time away from the office will change life — for workers, employers, and our cities.

Incentives and the Race to Vaccinate

With COVID-19 variants proliferating, administering vaccines as quickly as possible is a key policy priority. How can we ensure every level of the healthcare system pulls out all the stops in that pursuit? Joshua Gottlieb and David Pitrak join to discuss the urgent answers from their specialties of economics and medicine.

Is the Future Cashless?

When COVID lockdowns started a year ago, the use of cash plummeted. But the pandemic only accelerated a trend already underway. As we begin to emerge from global pandemic, is a fully cashless world on the horizon? Who benefits from using cash? Fernando Alvarez and Raghuram Rajan share research insights on the economic effects of banning – and introducing – cash in today's markets.

The Surprising Results of Pandemic Unemployment Benefits

In March 2020, the CARES Act expanded who was eligible for unemployment benefits, how much they could collect and for how long. Economists are now finding patterns in job searches and spending during this enormous expansion that seem to counter common economic assumptions. Peter Ganong and Fiona Greig join to discuss the surprising effects they uncovered in the data.