Stephen J. Dubner

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Stephen Dubner
Stephen J. Dubner by Audrey S. Bernstein wiki.jpg
Dubner in 2012
Stephen Joseph Dubner

(1963-08-26) August 26, 1963 (age 58)
Alma materAppalachian State University
Columbia University
Known forFreakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Ellen Binder-Dubner
(m. 1998)

Stephen Joseph Dubner (born August 26, 1963) is an American author, journalist, and podcast and radio host. He is co-author of the popular Freakonomics book series and host of Freakonomics Radio.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in 1963 in Duanesburg, New York, to Solomon Dubner (also known as Paul) and Florence Greenglass (also known as Florence Winters and Veronica Dubner), Dubner grew up as the youngest of eight children.[1] His father, who died in 1973 when Dubner was 10 years old, worked as a copy editor at the Troy Record.[2] Dubner grew up in a devout Roman Catholic household, his parents having converted from Judaism to Catholicism before his birth. As an adult, Dubner himself converted back to Judaism, an experience he chronicles in his first book, Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son's Return to His Jewish Family.[3]

In 1984, Dubner graduated from Appalachian State University in North Carolina, where he studied in the College of Fine and Applied Arts.[4] There, Dubner played in a rock band, The Right Profile, which later signed with Arista Records shortly before he decided against a career in music. In 1990, Dubner earned a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Columbia University, where he also taught English.[5]


Early work[edit]

Dubner's first published work appeared in Highlights for Children, when he was 11 years old. Since then, his journalism has been published in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Time, and has been anthologized in The Best American Sports Writing, The Best American Crime Writing, and elsewhere.[5]

In 1998, Dubner wrote his first full-length book, Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son's Return to His Jewish Family, for which he was named a finalist for the Koret Jewish Book Award.[3] Dubner has since written Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper, published in 2003, and a children's book, The Boy With Two Belly Buttons, published in 2007.

Freakonomics book series[edit]

Dubner met Steven Levitt, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, when his editor asked him to write a profile on Levitt for The New York Times Magazine. At the time, Dubner was writing a book on the psychology of money and didn't have much interest in meeting the young economist from Chicago. Likewise, Levitt had little interest in the profile, but agreed to a two-hour interview because his mom liked The New York Times Magazine.[6] Upon meeting Levitt, Dubner extended the two-hour interview to three days.

After publication of Dubner’s 2003 Times Magazine article, Dubner and Levitt were asked to co-write a book, which cemented their partnership. In 2005, William Morrow published Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, a book about cheating teachers, bizarre baby-names, self-dealing Realtors, and crack-selling mama's boys.[5] Freakonomics would go on to be translated into 40 languages and sell 5 million copies worldwide.[5]

Dubner and Levitt co-authored three other books: SuperFreakonomics (2009), Think Like a Freak (2014), and When to Rob a Bank (2015). Throughout their writings, Dubner and Levitt use economics to explore real-world phenomena, answer perplexing questions, and offer unconventional analysis.

Freakonomics Radio[edit]

In 2010, Dubner launched a weekly podcast, Freakonomics Radio, which was getting 15 million global monthly downloads as of 2018.[5] On March 5, 2020, Dubner appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

Dubner also hosts Freakonomics Radio Live! (formerly Tell Me Something I Don’t Know), a game-show version of the podcast in which contestants share incredible, little-known facts in front of a live audience.

Personal life[edit]

Dubner currently resides in New York City with his wife, documentary photographer Ellen Binder,[7] their two children, and their dog. In a 2017 New York Times profile, Dubner described his ideal Sunday as one in which he walks his dog in Central Park early in the morning, watches an FC Barcelona game with his son, and spends the afternoon cooking dinner with his daughter.[8]


  • Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son's Return to His Jewish Family (1998) ISBN 0-380-72930-X)
    • Republished as Choosing My Religion: A Memoir of a Family Beyond Belief (2006) ISBN 0061132993)
  • Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper (2003) (ISBN 0-688-17365-9)
  • Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, co-author with Steven Levitt (2005) (ISBN 0-06-089637-X)
  • The Boy With Two Belly Buttons, (2007) (ISBN 978-0061134029)
  • SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance, co-author with Steven Levitt (2009) (ISBN 0-060-88957-8)
  • Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain, co-author with Steven Levitt (2014) (ISBN 0-062-21833-6)
  • When to Rob a Bank: ...And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants, co-author with Steven Levitt (2015) (ISBN 0-062-38532-1)

Dubner has a chapter giving advice in Tim Ferriss' book Tools of Titans.

Radio and other media[edit]



  1. ^ Dubner, Stephen (March 31, 1996). "Choosing My Religion". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 21, 2006. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  2. ^ "Weddings: Ellen Binder, Stephen Dubner". The New York Times. 1998-09-13. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-10.
  3. ^ a b Dubner, Stephen (1998). Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son's Return To His Jewish Family. William Morrow. ISBN 978-0688151805.
  4. ^ "Alumni Awards 2012: Stephen J. Dubner '84". Retrieved 2019-01-10.
  5. ^ a b c d e "About". Freakonomics. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  6. ^ Dean, Michelle (2015-05-15). "Freakonomics 10 years on: Stephen J Dubner and Steven D Levitt on what they got right and wrong". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-01-10.
  7. ^ "Ellen Binder, Stephen Dubner". Weddings. The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-08-18. The bridegroom, 35, is a story editor at The New York Times Magazine...He is a son of Veronica Dubner of Homer, N.Y., and the late S. Paul Dubner, who was a copy editor at The Troy Record in Troy, N.Y. The bridegroom's previous marriage ended in divorce.
  8. ^ Gorce, Tammy La (2017-11-10). "How Stephen J. Dubner, of 'Freakonomics' and 'Tell Me Something I Don't Know,' Spends His Sundays". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-10.