One prescription drug is keeping some addicts from dying. So why isn’t it more widespread? A story of regulation, stigma, and the potentially fatal faith in abstinence.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died of opioid overdoses in recent years. While opioid deaths in the United States have started to level off, more than one in five Americans still have at least one opioid prescription filled or refilled per year. …

How pharma greed, government subsidies, and a push to make pain the “fifth vital sign” kicked off a crisis that costs $80 billion a year and has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans

Oxycodone pain pills prescribed for a patient with chronic pain lie on display

The U.S. is in the throes of a full-blown crisis of opioid overuse, abuse, damage, and death. As far back as 2006, federal health institutes flagged what they called “disturbing data about a spike in opioid addictions. But the message didn’t seem to get through. Prescriptions for opioids continued to…

A year ago, nobody was taking Andrew Yang very seriously. Now he is America’s favorite entrepre-nerd, with a candidacy that keeps gaining momentum. This episode includes our January 2019 conversation with the leader of the Yang Gang and a fresh interview recorded from the campaign trail in Iowa.

Andrew Yang, the long-shot presidential candidate who has now outlasted several prominent contenders in the Democratic primary, is the son of immigrants. He was born in Schenectady, New York; studied economics and political science at Brown; and got a law degree at Columbia. After law school, Yang worked at a…

Every year, Americans short the IRS nearly half a trillion dollars. Most ideas to increase compliance are more stick than carrot — scary letters, audits, and penalties. But what if we gave taxpayers a chance to allocate how their money is spent, or even bribed them with a thank-you gift?

One of the biggest economic problems in the United States today is the tax gap, the difference between taxes owed to the federal government and what’s actually paid. The U.S. tax gap is considered quite large for a rich country; the IRS says it’s around 15% to 20% of the…

Freakonomics Radio

Innovation experts have long overlooked where a lot of innovation actually happens. The personal computer, the mountain bike, the artificial pancreas — none of these came from some big R&D lab, but from users tinkering in their homes. Acknowledging this reality — and encouraging it — would be good for the economy (and the soul too).

When you think about innovation these days, what kind of image comes to mind? Maybe a massive computer-science lab, or a well-funded medical-device workshop, or a flavor-profile laboratory run by a gigantic food company?

These are all true enough examples of corporate innovation — but they’re just the most visible…

Freakonomics Radio

A recent outbreak of illness and death has gotten everyone’s attention — including late-to-the-game regulators. But would a ban on e-cigarettes do more harm than good? We smoke out the facts.

Unless you’ve been hibernating, you’ve probably heard about the dangers posed by e-cigarettes and vaping. Forty-two people in the United States have died and 2,000 have been injured in cases involving a severe respiratory ailment called EVALI, or “e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury.”

People have been vaping…

Freakonomics Radio

For nearly a decade, governments have been using behavioral nudges to solve problems — and the strategy is catching on in health care, firefighting, and policing. But is that thinking too small? Could nudging be used to fight income inequality and achieve world peace?

Almost ten years ago, a quiet revolution began in London, in the very heart of the U.K.’s central government. This revolution promoted something that shouldn’t really need promoting: policy-making based on empirical evidence.

After all, wouldn’t it make sense for governments to design policy based on data-driven solutions rather than…

Freakonomics Radio

Do economic sanctions work? Are big democracies any good at spreading democracy? What is the root cause of terrorism? It turns out that data analysis can help answer all these questions — and make better foreign-policy decisions.

U.S. Army 11th Engineers move into position ahead of a possible military strike near Kuwait-Iraq border on March 18, 2003.

At the moment, the United States has a relatively charged relationship with, among others, China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela. The stakes in each case are high; the issues are complex. And the outcomes will reverberate for decades, if not longer.

Fortunately for policymakers, a group of researchers at…

Freakonomics Radio

For decades, there’s been a huge gender disparity both on-screen and behind the scenes. But it seems like cold, hard data — with an assist from the actor Geena Davis — may finally be moving the needle.

Disney character Belle at the Walt Disney premiere of “The Ice Princess” on March 13, 2005 in Hollywood, California.

In 1991, the actress Geena Davis starred in a movie that made her superfamous: Thelma and Louise. She played a timid housewife who goes road-tripping with her not-at-all timid friend, played by Susan Sarandon. As Hollywood films go, it was a huge outlier: two female leads, a female screenwriter, and…

Stephen J. Dubner/ Freakonomics Radio

Stephen J. Dubner is co-author of the Freakonomics books and host of Freakonomics Radio.

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