Undercover Economist

My weekly column in the Financial Times on Saturdays, explaining the economic ideas around us every day. This column was inspired by my book and began in 2005.

Why are some jobs so “greedy”?

Why do women still tend to earn less than men? There is nobody better placed to answer that question than economic historian Claudia Goldin, the winner of the 2023 Nobel memorial prize in economics. Her answer tells us how to fight unfairness, but also how to create...

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Sometimes a random solution is best

Just over a decade ago, Egypt’s Coptic Christians chose their new pope. The names of three favoured candidates were placed in a glass bowl, then a blindfolded boy selected from the trio at random. Religious people can appeal to the idea that the outcome wasn’t truly...

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The art of making good misstakes

Do good teams make fewer mistakes? It seems a reasonable hypothesis. But in the early 1990s, when a young researcher looked at evidence from medical teams at two Massachusetts hospitals, the numbers told her a completely different story: the teams who displayed the...

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Confessions of a work-from-homer

I wouldn’t claim to be a workaholic — the word is ugly and glib. But as I enter my sixth decade, I am finally starting to own up to some bad work habits. Unlike my father, who would head to the office in the morning, come home in the evening and almost never work...

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