How important is luck in economic success? No question more reliably divides conservatives from liberals. As conservatives correctly observe, people who amass great fortunes are almost always talented and hardworking. But liberals are also correct to note that countless others have those same qualities yet never earn much. In recent years, social scientists have discovered that chance plays a much larger role in important life outcomes than most people imagine.
"Not what is advertised"
Who was the greater economist--Adam Smith or Charles Darwin? The question seems absurd. Darwin, after all, was a naturalist, not an economist. But Robert Frank, New York Times economics columnist and best-selling author of The Economic Naturalist, predicts that within the next century Darwin will unseat Smith as the intellectual founder of economics.
"Ivory tower theorys that lack depth"
Although middle-income families don't earn much more than they did several decades ago, they are buying bigger cars, houses, and appliances. To pay for them, they spend more than they earn and carry record levels of debt. In a book that explores the very meaning of happiness and prosperity in America today, Robert Frank explains how increased concentrations of income and wealth at the top of the economic pyramid have set off "expenditure cascades" that raise the cost of achieving many basic goals for the middle class.
"The Incalculable Value of Finding a Job You Love" is from the July 22, 2016 Financial section of The New York Times. It was written by Robert H. Frank and narrated by Caroline Miller.
"Are You Successful? You’ve Already Won the Lottery" is from the May 20, 2016 Business section of The New York Times. It was written by Robert H. Frank and narrated by Paul Ryden.