Are universities worth it?

©Harry Haysom

‘To enjoy higher wages, smart people must waste time and money going to the trouble of acquiring a degree’

Illustration by Harry Haysom of the Olympics logo across a person's head
©Harry Haysom

Does hosting the Olympics make us happier?

‘Careful surveys of wellbeing are an important tool in figuring out the wisest way to spend public money’

©Harry Haysom

The meaning of trust in the age of Airbnb

‘The reason eBay and Airbnb work is not because of brilliant online reputation systems but because most people aren’t crooks’

©Harry Haysom

An algorithm for getting through your to-do list

‘We all have days of switching focus from one task to another but never actually doing anything. Can we borrow a solution from computers?’

Polluting car illustration
©Harry Haysom

Fossil fuels have had an aeon’s head start

‘Fossil fuels have a formidable head start as our entire existing energy system revolves around them’

Metropolitan myths that led to Brexit

‘The pressing issue for the UK has not been rising inequality but weak growth’

©Harry Haysom

Brexit and the power of wishful thinking

‘We are quite capable of clinging on to our beliefs by picking whatever facts support them’

Illustration of a Brexit expert on TV
©Harry Haysom

Did economists fail us over Brexit?

‘Most economists think the British public shot itself in the foot, and did so against expert advice’

Illustration by Harry Haysom of a girl and boy measuring their heights
©Harry Haysom

We’re all winners or losers now

‘When we stop admiring how much the pie has grown, we start fighting each other for a larger slice’

Illustration by Harry Haysom of an Olympic torch
©Harry Haysom

How do you make the Olympics pay? Fudge the figures

‘Hosting the games is not unlike building a church for one single, glorious wedding celebration’

How to fuel a rewarding culture

‘Money matters, but sometimes we find financial incentives to be insulting or grubby’

The dubious power of power poses

‘Many notable results in psychology are now being questioned because later research has reached different conclusions’

Worth the wait?

‘If you miss your plane or your train, it hardly matters that the queue was a nice place to chill’

How the sense of an ending shapes memory

‘Composers, novelists and film directors try to end on a high. Restaurants keen to manipulate their online reviews have found a similar trick’

The refugee crisis — match us if you can

‘However many refugees we decide to resettle, there’s no excuse for doing the process wastefully’

A billion prices can’t be wrong

‘A “big data” approach to inflation is helping us understand the fundamental question of why recessions happen’

The odds are you won’t know when to quit

‘The truth is that there are no foolproof methods for knowing when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em’

Could an income for all provide the ultimate safety net?

‘Though the idea of a basic income is far from mainstream, it has had astonishingly broad support’

Tata Steel, Port Talbot and how to manage industrial decline

‘The wounds of a large industrial closure run deep. The entire economic ecosystem of an area can collapse’

Why one size doesn’t fit all

‘The most notorious example of this “compromise effect” is our tendency to plump for the second-cheapest bottle on the wine list’

ABOUT TIM

Tim HarfordTim Harford is economics leader writer for the Financial Times and writes the “Undercover Economist” columns on Saturdays. He first joined the FT as Peter Martin Fellow in 2003 and after a spell at the World Bank in Washington DC he rejoined the FT’s leader writing team in 2006.

Tim’s book, The Undercover Economist, is a Business Week bestseller and a Sunday Times bestseller, and was number one on Amazon.co.uk. It has been translated into sixteen languages. He is now working on a sequel.

Tim is also the presenter of the BBC2 series, Trust Me, I’m an Economist.

E-mail Tim Harford

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