The great data debate

‘The idea that we can somehow measure “the thing that matters most” is quite absurd’

The power of saying no

‘Every time we say yes to a request, we are also saying no to anything else we might accomplish with the time’

How much is a (micro)life worth?

‘Travelling 28 miles on a motorbike is four micromorts; cycling the same distance is just over one micromort’

Why more and more means less

Status quo bias means that most of your stuff stays because you can’t think of a good reason to get rid of it

You really, really, shouldn’t have . . . 

There is a vast discrepancy between how we see the world when giving gifts and when receiving them

Women (still) don’t win prizes

‘Something about the culture of UK schools is nudging young women away from economics’

The Christmas card network

‘It is not clear new technologies are expanding our number of genuine friends’

Best of 2014 - Learn from the losers

Kickended is important. It reminds us that the world is biased in systematic ways

Why a house-price bubble means trouble

A housing boom is the economic equivalent of a tapeworm infection

Finance and the jelly bean problem

‘What else might influence portfolio returns? There is literally no limit to the number of variables’

A passport to privilege

Class matters far less than it used to in the 19th century. Citizenship matters far more

Trading places – with a rat

Financial price data are converted into music, the music is played to a rat, then the rat guesses whether the price will fall or rise

Why are recessions so depressing?

Happiness is around six times more sensitive to economic growth when that ‘growth’ is negative

Why pilot schemes help ideas take flight

There’s huge value in experiments that help us decide whether to go big or go home

The kettle conundrum

The problem of saving the environment, then, is also the fundamental social problem: how do we come together and co-operate?

Pick a fund, any fund…

Most active managers do not manage to outperform passive funds – particularly not when their fees are deducted

When regulators are all out to déjeuner

Just because a problem exists does not mean that a new regulation will solve it

Crushing the competition – at any price

It was Selten’s chain store paradox that first attracted me to economics, with a heady mixture of logic, psychology and military strategy

Ice bucket challenge: the cold facts

In a world of limited generosity, who is to say which cause should be at the head of the queue?

Here today, gone tomorrow

Don’t draw up your task list in the morning – do it the evening before, when you will have a more distant perspective

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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