Russell Roberts

John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow

Russ Roberts is the John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He founded the award-winning weekly podcast EconTalk in 2006. Past guests include Milton Friedman, Thomas Piketty, Christopher Hitchens, Bill James, Nassim Taleb, Michael Lewis, and Marc Andreessen. All 600+ episodes remain available free of charge at

His two rap videos on the ideas of John Maynard Keynes and F.A. Hayek, created with filmmaker John Papola, have had more than 10 million YouTube views, been subtitled in 11 languages, and are used in high school and college classrooms around the world. His poem and animated video “It’s a Wonderful Loaf” is his ode to emergent order. His series on the challenge of using data to establish truth, The Numbers Game, can be found at

He is the author of three novels teaching lessons and ideas through fiction. The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity tells the story of wealth creation and the unseen forces around us creating and sustaining economic opportunity. The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance looks at corporate responsibility and a wide array of policy issues including anti-poverty programs, consumer protection, and the morality of the marketplace. His first book, The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism, was named one of the top ten books of 1994 by Business Week and one of the best books by the Financial Times.

His latest book is How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness. It takes the lessons from Adam Smith's little-known masterpiece, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, and applies them to modern life.

Roberts has taught at George Mason University, Washington University in St. Louis (where he was the founding director of what is now the Center for Experiential Learning), the University of Rochester, Stanford University, and the University of California, Los Angeles. He holds a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago and received his undergraduate degree in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

Jennifer Doleac On Crime

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, January 21, 2019

This week, economist Jennifer Doleac of Texas A&M University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her research on crime, police, and the unexpected consequences of the criminal justice system. Topics discussed include legislation banning asking job applicants if they've been in prison, body cameras for police, the use of DNA databases, the use of Naloxone to prevent death from opioid overdose, and the challenges of being an economist who thinks about crime using the economist's toolkit.


Stephen Kotkin On Solzhenitsyn

by Russell Roberts featuring Stephen Kotkinvia EconTalk
Monday, January 14, 2019

This week, historian and author Stephen Kotkin of Princeton University and Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the historical significance of the life and work of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Solzhenitsyn's birth.

Analysis and Commentary

Ed Dolan On Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, January 7, 2019

This week, economist Ed Dolan of the Niskanen Center talks about employer-based health insurance with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Dolan discusses how unusual it is relative to other countries that so many Americans get their health insurance through their employer and the implications of that phenomenon for the structure of the health insurance market.


Economic Alarmists Tell Tall Tales Of A Rigged Economy

by Russell Robertsvia The Hill
Friday, January 4, 2019

In a recent article in Scientific American, “The American Economy is Rigged,” Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz paints a gloomy picture of the U.S. economy and the American Dream over the last 40 years and then some: "Whereas the income share of the top 0.1 percent has more than quadrupled and that of the top 1 percent has almost doubled, that of the bottom 90 percent has declined. Wages at the bottom, adjusted for inflation, are about the same as they were some 60 years ago!"

Analysis and Commentary

Sebastian Junger On Tribe

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, December 31, 2018

Journalist and author Sebastian Junger talks about his book Tribe with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Junger explores the human need to be needed and the challenges facing many individuals in modern society who struggle to connect with others. His studies of communal connection include soldiers in a small combat unit and American Indian society in the nineteenth century.

Analysis and Commentary

Mariana Mazzucato On The Value Of Everything

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, December 24, 2018

Economist and author Mariana Mazzucato talks about her book The Value of Everything with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Mazzucato argues that economists have mismeasured value and have failed to appreciate the role of government as innovator. She argues for a more active role for government in the innovation process and for government to share in revenue proportional to its role in the creation of new technology.

Analysis and Commentary

John Horgan On Mind-Body Problems

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, December 17, 2018

Science journalist and author John Horgan talks about his book, Mind-Body Problems, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Horgan interviewed an array of scientists, philosophers, and others who have worked on consciousness, free-will, and what it means to be human.


Peter Berkowitz On Locke, Liberty, And Liberalism

by Russell Roberts interview with Peter Berkowitzvia EconTalk
Monday, December 10, 2018

Peter Berkowitz of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the origins of liberalism and the importance of John Locke. Berkowitz defends the liberal project of individual rights and liberty and argues that critics of Locke mischaracterize his thought. 

Analysis and Commentary

Do I Deserve What I Have? Part II

by Russell Robertsvia Medium
Wednesday, December 5, 2018

In Part I of this essay, I tried to make the case that I do not deserve the standard of living I currently enjoy, particularly compared to the woman, Bianca, who shined my shoes the other day. Yes, I have more marketable skills than she has, but as I wrote before, that does not mean I deserve a higher standard of living in any fundamental sense. So a legitimate argument can be made that even though I pay a substantial amount of tax on my income and Bianca almost surely receives some benefits from government programs, a substantially higher tax can be justified on grounds of justice.

Analysis and Commentary

Do I Deserve What I Have? Part I

by Russell Robertsvia Medium
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

How am I lucky to have the career I have and the economic security I have? Let me list the ways. I was born of two parents who loved me but who did not spoil me and who gave me an above average set of inherited skills. They created a love of reading in me as well as some measure of kindness and honesty. I did not choose my parents. I am so lucky.