November 22, 2016
Alex Graves.jpg

We know holiday travel isn't always the most fun, so here are some podcast episodes to help you get smarter while you're on the road.

We've grouped them by the podcast they come from with the subscription link at the top (you may have to scroll back to find the specific episode), and web link to that episode after when could find one. If you're looking for which ones to start with favorites of the favorites are in bold, and skip to the end for some promising-looking new podcasts that have just launched. 

Planet Money (iTunes, other)

  • "Episode 723: The Risk Farmers" economists Chris Udry and Dean Karlan work in Ghana trying to unpiece why farmers don't invest more into their fields, and find it's not because they're poor (web).

  • "Episode 731: How Venezuela Imploded" (web).

  • "Episode 727: You Asked For It, Again" - a fun collection of economic mysteries listeners wanted answered (web).

  • "Episode 698: The Long Way Home"  - why housing subsidies are given out through such a strange system in the U.S. (web).

Ezra Klein show (iTunes

  • World Bank President Jim Yong Kim - wide ranging interview including his early days as a medical anthopology Ph.D. student studying pharmaceuticals in a rapidly developing Korea and at Partners in Health (web).

  • The Daily Show's Trevor Noah - he has an outsider's perspective on the U.S. but his job is to observe the news, it comes across much like an anthropologist (web).

  • Sociologist Arlie Hoschild - was in rural Louisiana for the Trump rise and describes the perspective of the people she spent a lot of time with (web, written interview).

Busted: America's Poverty Myths

  • An amazing collaboration between Public Radio's On The Media, and Public Television comparing the real causes of poverty in the U.S. to what many of us believe (often without even realizing it). Five 20ish minute episodes (web).

Econ Talk (iTunes, other)

  • "Chris Arnade," Physics Ph.D. and former Wall Street Trader talks about his view of the financial crisis from the trading floor, and how his long walks through the Bronx during the crisis led to him quitting to explore and photograph rural distressed middle America. He has a lot of thoughtful observations.  (web, & his widely circulated Guardian Article.) Special thanks to Bill on Chris Blattman's blog for this one.  

Invisibilia from NPR  (iTunes)

  • "Outside In" looks at the first all-girls debate team in Rwanda, but more deeply how recently top-down pro-women policies conflict with cultural traditions (web, article).

  • "The Problem with the Solution" goes to a town in Belgium that doesn't look at mental illness as a clinical pathology, and has been welcoming in those with mental illness for hundreds of years (web).

Conversations with Tyler Cowen (iTunes, others)

  • Cognitive Scientist Steven Pinker - a public intellectual, but he specializes in language and the brain (web).
  • Economist Dani Rodrik - lots of stuff about global economy (web). 
  • Psychologist Jon Haidt - who studies why people with different political views often misunderstand one another because they're using different kinds of moral reasoning (web).

This American Life

  • Their two-part view of life inside Greek refugee camps does a decent job of not being depressing (their iTunes feed doesn't go very far back):
    • "Episode 592: Are We There Yet" Part one, describes how the camps work and how people get there. (web)
    • "Episode 593: Don't Have to Live Like a Refugee" Part two profiles people getting on with their lives in the camps. (web)
  • Also "Episode 595: Deep End of the Pool" has the story of a lawyer with no criminal experience being drafted to defend someone facing 20 years. (web)

GovInnovator Podcast (iTunes)

  • "Determining if Your Program Has an Impact" David Evans on the GovInnovator Podcast gives a beginners intro to different evaluation methods (web).

  • "Lessons in Applying Behavioral Insights to Human Services" two MDRC researchers talk about results from 15 nudge experiments in government services. Many of their insights aren't from the RCT results, but organizational lessons in how to get government agencies to try new ideas (web). 

Promising-looking new podcast feeds:

  • Tim Harford on the BBC with "Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy" (iTunes). Each episode explores one invention that had a major economic impact on the world.

  • BBC "World Hacks". The first episode looks at the evidence behind cash transfers for humanitarian assistance.

  • Gimlet "Undone" (iTunes) revisits an episode that was in the news in near history (past few decades), with a more modern critical eye. Like all Gimlet shows, it's done very well. 

And finally, as you see there's no shortage of podcasts out there. There's a new app I was just told about, RadioPublic, from PRX (which distributes many public radio and other programs). It's designed to help better organize the world of podcasts, and includes a "librarian" feature, where a real world person will try to recommend podcasts you might like based on your preferences.

More suggestions? Leave them in the comments or tweet us @poverty_action!

Image above via Alex Graves on Flickr