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Synopsis

From the author of Day of Reckoning, the acclaimed critique of Ronald Reagan’s economic policy (“Every citizen should read it,” said The New York Times): a persuasive, wide-ranging argument that economic growth provides far more than material benefits. In clear-cut prose, Benjamin M. Friedman examines the political and social histories of the large Western democracies–particularly of the United States since the Civil War–to demonstrate the fact that incomes on the rise lead to more open and democratic societies. He explains that growth, rather than simply a high standard of living, is key to effecting political and social liberalization in the third world, and shows that even the wealthiest of nations puts its democratic values at risk when income levels stand still. Merely being rich is no protection against a turn toward rigidity and intolerance when a country’s citizens lose the sense that they are getting ahead.With concrete policy suggestions for pursuing growth at home and promoting worldwide economic expansion, this volume is a major contribution to the ongoing debate about the effects of economic growth and globalization.

Excerpt

Chapter 1What Growth Is, What Growth DoesEconomic growth has become the secular religion of advancing industrial societies.—DANIEL BELL The Cultural Contradictions of CapitalismAre we right to care so much about economic growth as we clearly do?For citizens of all too many of the world's countries, where poverty is still the norm, the answer is immediate and obvious. But the tangible improvements in the basics of life that make economic growth so important whenever living standards are low--greater life expectancy, fewer diseases, less infant mortality and malnutrition--have mostly played out long before a country's per capita income reaches the levels enjoyed in today's advanced industrialized economies. Americans are no healthier than Koreans or Portuguese, for example, and we live no longer, despite an average income more than twice what they have. Yet whether our standard of living will continue to improve, and how fast, remain matters of acute concern for us nonetheless.At the same time, perhaps because we are never clear about just why we attach so much importance to economic growth in the first place, we are often at cross-purposes--at times we seem to be almost embarrassed--about what we want. We not only acknowledge other values; as a matter of principle we place them on a higher plane than our material well-being. Even in parts of the world where the need to improve nutrition and literacy and human life expectancy is urgent, there is often a grudging aspect to the recognition that achieving superior growth is a top priority. As a result, especially when faster growth would require sacrifice from entrenched constituencies with well-established interests, the political process often fails to muster the determination to press forward. The all too frequent outcome, in low- and high-income countries alike, is economic disappointment, and in some cases outright stagnation.The root of the problem, I believe, is that our conventional thinking about economic growth fails to reflect the breadth of what growth, or its absence, means for a society. We recognize, of course, the advantages of a higher material standard of living, and we appreciate them. But moral thinking, in practically every known culture, enjoins us not to place undue emphasis on our material concerns. We are also increasingly aware that economic development--industrialization in particular, and more recently globalization--often brings undesirable side effects, like damage to the environment or the homogenization of what used to be distinctive cultures, and we have come to regard these matters too in moral terms. On both counts, we therefore think of economic growth in terms of material considerations versus moral ones: Do we have the right to burden future generations, or even other species, for our own material advantage? Will the emphasis we place on growth, or the actions we take to achieve it, compromise our moral integrity? We weigh material positives against moral negatives.I believe this thinking is seriously, in some circumstances dangerously, incomplete. The value of a rising standard of living lies not just in the concrete improvements it brings to how individuals live but in how it shapes the social, political, and ultimately the moral character of a people.Economic growth--meaning a rising standard of living for the clear majority of citizens--more often than not fosters greater opportunity, tolerance of diversity, social mobility, commitment to fairness, and dedication to democracy. Ever since the Enlightenment, Western thinking has regarded each of these tendencies positively, and in explicitly moral terms.Even societies that have already made great advances in these very dimensions, for example most of today's Western democracies, are more likely to make still further progress when their living standards rise. But when living standards stagnate or decline, most societies make little if any progress toward any of these goals, and in all too many instances they plainly retrogress. As we shall see, many countries with highly developed economies, including America, have experienced alternating eras of economic growth and stagnation in which their democratic values have strengthened or weakened accordingly.How the citizens of any country think about economic growth, and what actions they take in consequence, is therefore a matter of far broader importance than we conventionally assume. In many countries today, even the most basic qualities of any society--democracy or dictatorship, tolerance or ethnic hatred and violence, widespread opportunity or economic oligarchy--remain in flux. In some countries where there is now a democracy, it is still new and therefore fragile. Because of the link between rising or falling living standards and just these aspects of social and political development, the absence of growth in so many of what we usually call "developing economies," even though many of them are not actually developing, threatens their prospects in ways that standard measures of national income do not even suggest. But the same concern applies, albeit in a more subtle way, to mature democracies as well.Even in America, I believe, the quality of our democracy--more fundamentally, the moral character of American society--is similarly at risk. The central economic question for the United States at the outset of the twenty-first century is whether the nation in the generation ahead will again achieve increasing prosperity, as in the decades immediately following World War II, or lapse back into the stagnation of living standards for the majority of our citizens that persisted from the early 1970s until the early 1990s. And the more important question that then follows is how these different economic paths would affect our democratic political institutions and the broader character of our society. As the economic historian Alexander Gerschenkron once observed, "even a long democratic history does not necessarily immunize a country from becoming a ‘democracy without democrats.' "And as we shall see from our own experience as well as that of other countries, merely being rich is no bar to a society's retreat into rigidity and intolerance once enough of its citizens lose the sense that they are getting ahead.The familiar balancing of material positives against moral negatives when we discuss economic growth is therefore a false choice, and the parallel assumption, that how we value material versus moral concerns neatly maps into whether we should eagerly embrace economic growth or temper our enthusiasm for it, is wrong as well. Economic growth bears moral benefits as well, and when we debate the often hard decisions that inevitably arise--in choosing economic policies that either encourage growth or retard it, and even in our reactions to the growth that takes place apart from the push or pull of public policy--it is important that we take these moral positives into account.Especially in a work focused on the positive link between economic growth and social and political progress, it may seem strange to think that America, now so preeminent across the world in economic terms, faces any significant threat in this regard. One country after another--including even China and Singapore, which thus far have hesitated to liberalize politically--has adopted American approaches to the management of its economy, based on free enterprise, private initiative, and mobile capital. Why would ongoing economic growth not therefore herald an era of further social and political progress that would reinforce the openness of American society and otherwise strengthen and broaden American democracy?One concern is simply that the robust growth of the latter half of the 1990s may prove to have been only a temporary interlude, a "bubble" as many disappointed stock market investors now regard it, between the stagnation that dominated most of the final quarter of the twentieth century and further stagnation yet to come. But even the prosperity that America experienced in the late 1990s bypassed large parts, in some important dimensions a clear majority, of the country's citizens. Jobs were plentiful, but too many provided poor wages, little if any training, and no opportunity for advancement.Economic progress needs to be broadly based if it is to foster social and political progress. That progress requires the positive experience of a sufficiently broad cross section of a country's population to shape the national mood and direction. But except for a brief period in the late 1990s, most of the fruits of the last three decades of economic growth in the United States have accrued to only a small slice of the American population. Nor was that short period of more widespread prosperity sufficient to allow most American families to make up for the economic stagnation or outright decline they endured during previous years. After allowing for higher prices, the average worker in American business in 2004 made 16 percent less each week than thirty-plus years earlier.For most Americans, the reward for work today is well below what it used to be.With more and more two-earner households, and more individuals holding two jobs, most families' incomes have more than held their ground. But nearly all of the gain realized over these last three decades came only in the burst of strong growth in the late 1990s. Despite mostly low unemployment, and some modest growth in the U.S. gross domestic product--and despite the increased prevalence of two-earner families and two-job workers--the median family's income made little gain beyond inflation from the early 1970s to the early 1990s.For fully two decades most Americans were not getting ahead economically, and many of those who did were increasingly hard-pressed to keep up even their meager progress. This was not the kind of broadly based increase in living standards that we normally conceive as "economic growth."Even for many families in the country's large middle-class majority, economic prospects have become increasingly precarious in recent decades. Young men entering the American job force in the 1970s started off their working careers earning two-thirds more, on average, than what their fathers' generation had made starting out in the 1950s. By the early 1990s young workers were starting out at one-fourth less than what their parents' generation had earned.It is not surprising, therefore, that even as they expressed confidence that the U.S. economy would continue to expand, throughout this period Americans in record numbers also said they had no sense of getting ahead personally and that they feared for their children's financial future. Even in the late 1990s, with the surge in both the economy and the stock market in full bloom, more than half of all Americans surveyed said they agreed that "The American dream has become impossible for most people to achieve." More than two-thirds said they thought that goal would become still harder to attain over the next generation.The disappointment so many Americans felt at failing to achieve greater advances--and that many feel today--is grounded in hard reality. So is the sense of many young Americans that their prospects are poor even at times when the economy is strong. Our citizens applaud the American economy, especially in years when it prospers, yet even then they fear that the end of the American dream lies ahead. They do so because in the last generation so many have failed to experience that dream in their own lives.The consequence of the stagnation that lasted from the mid-1970s until the mid-1990s was, in numerous dimensions, a fraying of America's social fabric. It was no coincidence that during this period popular antipathy to immigrants resurfaced to an extent not known in the United States since before World War II, and in some respects not since the 1880s when intense nativism spread in response to huge immigration at a time of protracted economic distress. It was not an accident that after three decades of progress toward bringing the country's African-American minority into the mainstream, public opposition forced a rolling retreat from affirmative action programs. It was not mere happenstance that, for a while, white supremacist groups were more active and visible than at any time since the 1930s, antigovernment private "militias" flourished as never before, and all the while many of our elected political leaders were reluctant to criticize such groups publicly even as church burnings, domestic terrorist attacks, and armed standoffs with law enforcement authorities regularly made headlines. Nor was it coincidental that the effort to "end welfare as we know it"--a widely shared goal, albeit for different reasons among different constituencies--often displayed a vindictive spirit that was highly uncharacteristic of America in the postwar era.With the return of economic advance for the majority of Americans in the mid-1990s, many of these deplorable tendencies began to abate. In the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns, for example, neither anti-immigrant rhetoric nor resistance to affirmative action played anything like the role seen in the elections in 1996 and especially 1992. While hate groups and anti-government militias have not disappeared, they have again retreated toward the periphery of the nation's consciousness. Even so, much of the legacy of those two decades of stagnation remains. While it has become commonplace to talk of the importance of "civil society," many thoughtful observers increasingly question the vitality in today's America of the attitudes and institutions that compose it.Even our public political discourse has lately lost much of its admittedly sparse civility, foundering on personal charges, investigations, and reverberating recrimination.It would be foolish to pretend that all these disturbing developments were merely the product of economic forces. Social and political phenomena are complex, and most have many causes. In the 1960s, for example, conventional thinking in the United States interpreted the wave of student uprisings on college campuses across the country as a protest against the Vietnam War. No doubt it was, in part. That simple view failed, however, to explain why other countries not involved in Vietnam had much the same experience (in some cases, for example France, even more so) at just the same time. The political and social changes that have been underway in America in our era have multiple roots as well.But it would be equally foolish to ignore the effects of two decades of economic stagnation for a majority of the nation's citizens in bringing these changes about. And it would be complacent not to be concerned now that the economy's prospects are in question once again. As we shall see, the history of each of the large Western democracies--America, Britain, France, and Germany--is replete with instances in which just this kind of turn away from openness and tolerance, and often the weakening of democratic political institutions, followed in the wake of economic stagnation that diminished people's confidence in a better future. In many parts of Europe, the social and political consequences of the transition from the postwar economic miracle to today's nagging "Eurosclerosis" are all too evident.In some eras, both in our own history and in that of these other countries, episodes of rigidity and intolerance have been much more intense and have borne far more serious consequences than anything we have seen recently. But then some past eras of stagnation or retreat in living standards have been much more pronounced as well. At the same time, periods of economic expansion in America and elsewhere, during which most citizens had reason to be optimistic, have also witnessed greater openness, tolerance, and democracy. To repeat: such advances occur for many reasons. But the effect of economic growth versus stagnation is an important and often central part of the story.

Table of Contents

Preface

PART I: IDEAS, THEIR ORIGINS, AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS

1. What Growth Is, What Growth Does
2. Perspectives from the Englightenment and Its Roots
3. Crosscurrent: The Age of Improvement and Beyond
4. Rising Incomes, Individual Attitudes, and the Politics of Social Change

PART II: DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA

5. From Horotio Alger to William Jennings Bryan
6. From TR to FDR
7. Great Depression, Great Expectation
8. America in the Postwar Era

PART III: OTHER TIMES, OTHER PLACES: THE EUROPEAN DEMOCRACIES

9. Britain
10. France
11. Germany

PART IV: DEVELOPMENT, EQUALITY, GLOBALIZATION, AND THE ENVIRONMENT

12. Economics and Politics in the Developing World
13. Virtuous Circles, Vicious Cycles
14. Growth and Equality
15. Growth and the Environment

PART V: LOOKING FORWARD

16. Economic Policy and Economic Growth in America

Notes
Acknowledgments
Index
Benjamin M. Friedman|Author Q&A

About Benjamin M. Friedman

Benjamin M. Friedman - The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth

Photo © J.D. Sloan

Benjamin M. Friedman is the William Joseph Maier Professor of Political Economy and former chairman of the Department of Economics at Harvard University, where he has taught for more than three decades. His book Day of Reckoning: The Consequences of American Economic Policy Under Reagan and After received the George S. Eccles Prize, awarded annually for excellence in writing about economics. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Review of Books. Most recently he was the 2005 recipient of the John R. Commons Award, presented in recognition of achievements in economics and service to the economics profession. He and his wife, Barbara, and their two sons live in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Benjamin Friedman is represented by the Knopf Speakers Bureau (http://www.knopfspeakersbureau.com).

Author Q&A

Q: You call your book The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth–what exactly do you mean by "moral consequences"?
A: My book focuses on how economic growth, or its absence, shapes the moral character of a society: how we live with one another, how we govern ourselves, whether we’re tolerant toward one another and generous toward those who need help. In part these are matters of personal attitudes and personal behavior. But in many respects–whether our democratic institutions are sound, for example, or whether people who work hard have opportunities to get ahead–the society has to be judged as a whole. The central point of my book is that for the broad majority of a society’s citizens, whether or not living standards are rising importantly influences all of these dimensions of its moral character.

Q: How would you describe the differences between "moral consequences" in developed and developing countries?
A: Two differences stand out. First, in many developing countries living standards are so low that basic human survival is an issue for large parts of the population. Rising incomes bring fewer early deaths, less malnutrition and disease, more widespread literacy and improved education. All of these improvements matter in and of themselves, of course, but they also powerfully affect the kind of moral dimensions of a society that my book emphasizes. Second, while most of the world’s economically developed countries today are already functioning democracies, where the question in this regard is how their existing democratic political institutions are changing, in many developing countries the challenge is to create effective democratic institutions where none exist.

Q: How important is it that the growth be continuous, and how great must the growth be?
A: What’s important is that the majority of people have the sense of getting ahead–that they’re living better than they used to, that their job prospects are improving, that they’re providing for their children in ways that represent improvements on how their parents provided for them, and that prospects for their children’s careers offer opportunities for them to keep moving forward in their turn. None of this requires precisely steady growth on a year-by-year basis, and so my book isn’t about short-term business cycles. Comparisons over a longer period are what matter. Your question about how great the growth must be to deliver the moral benefits my book outlines is harder, in part because the answer varies from one country’s context to another. Here in the United States, our average growth in income per person over nearly two centuries has been a little less than 2 percent per annum, so that our standard of living has doubled every thirty to forty years. That’s an impressive record, over so long a span of time, and it’s been sufficient to deliver enormous advances in our democracy, our tolerance, and our sense of fairness. But at times when that growth has faltered for extended periods, we’ve made no progress, or even retrogressed, on just those fronts.

Q: What aspects of American society have shown this kind of progress, then retreat, and then progress again over such a long time span?
A: Think, for example, about attitudes toward immigrants–always an important issue in a country like ours: Why was there so much anti-immigrant violence in the 1850s? Why did it pretty much disappear after the Civil War? Why was there then a resurgence of very ugly anti-immigrant agitation in the 1880s and 1890s? Why did that give way, after the turn of the twentieth century, to welcoming–and “Americanizing”–large numbers of immigrants? (In the years just before World War I, the Fourth of July was called “Americanization Day.”) Then, in the 1920s, why did Congress put in place the most restrictive immigration rules the United States has ever had? Why were those restrictions thrown out in the 1960s? Where did the new anti-immigrant agitation of the 1980s and early 1990s, like California’s Proposition 187, come from? And why did that in turn die down to such an extent that the one candidate who ran for President with an explicitly anti-immigrant stance in 2000, Patrick Buchanan, got nowhere even in the Republican primaries? It would be foolish to pretend that all these turnings were due purely to economic forces. But as the book shows in some detail, the strength or weakness of economic growth had a lot to do with it.

Q: Does the experience of other countries show similar patterns?
A: The most obvious example of real disaster following from economic stagnation is the rise of Nazism in Germany. The Nazi Party grew at first out of the economic and social turmoil that Germany suffered after World War I. But the Nazis’ rise to power followed only after Germany plunged into the economic abyss of the Great Depression. And there are plenty of other examples as well, including both positive developments and negative ones. The book looks at the histories of not only Germany but also Britain and France. In all three–as in America–the dominant pattern is that steps toward greater tolerance and stronger democracy and more widespread opportunity tend to follow periods of economic growth, while the opposite happens when economies stagnate or decline.

Q: In talking about the developing world, you make the point (p. 305) that economic growth enables conflicting groups–in ethnic strife for example–to compromise with each other because they will be less inclined to suspect that others are doing better at their expense. Are you saying that economic growth is a tool that can be employed to counteract the festering problems in the world?
A: True, rising incomes don’t solve all problems, but they certainly make a lot of them–including in particular many of the problems that developing countries face–easier to deal with. You mention ethnic strife, for example. Often ethnic conflict is at root a struggle over who gets the most out of a society’s limited resources: who gets good jobs, or which neighborhoods get streets and sewers and apartment buildings, or where to locate new hospitals. Especially in the developing world, where poverty is widespread and effective resources are limited in ways that are sometimes hard for us even to comprehend, economic growth creates the capacity to do more of all those things, so that more groups–if the growth is sufficient, everyone–can have the sense of getting ahead.

Q: Professor Friedman, are you saying that even in the poorest of the poor countries, economic growth can make a difference?
A: Yes. The point of my book is that economic growth matters in part because it brings positive changes in a society’s social attitudes and political institutions, and ultimately its moral character. But let’s not forget that rising incomes–and that’s what economic growth means–bring material benefits as well, and that the poorer a country is, the more important those material improvements are. In poor countries, as incomes rise people eat better, live longer, suffer fewer diseases and get better medical care; more people learn to read and write, and more become aware of the broader world around them. In the United States we sometimes take all these matters for granted. In sub-Saharan Africa people don’t because they can’t.

Q: You point out that from a standing start political and social freedoms normally follow a period of economic growth by as much as a quarter century–doesn’t this extremely slow rate of response make supporting fragile democracies like those in Afghanistan and Iraq extremely important over the long haul?
A: It makes that task both important but also difficult. To the extent that economic conditions are part of what makes a society able to sustain a democracy–and that’s a long-standing notion–jump-starting a democracy in a country where poverty is everywhere and growth is nowhere is a pretty daunting challenge. There are all too many examples of places where some outside power put in place the formal institutions of a democracy, only to see them wither and collapse because the society wasn’t ready to sustain them. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to create democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq; surely we should. But we also need to remember, especially in Afghanistan which is much poorer, that successful economic development is necessary if that democracy is going to survive.

Q: In the book you make the argument that global trade leads to increased economic growth in developing countries, which in turn improves people’s living conditions and political freedoms–the same countries that are more regularly seen in the news as victims of globalization and a cause for protest whenever the WTO meets. Is it fair to say that you are in favor of increased globalization with fair tariffs and trade agreements and that you don’t think these countries are getting a raw deal for the most part?
A: Experience shows pretty clearly that the developing countries that have participated in the advancing globalization of the world economy have mostly gained from doing so. The biggest losers by far have been countries that have stood aside. What I think is a raw deal is that some poor countries are precluded from participating in globalization because of restrictions imposed by countries that are much richer–for example, quotas that we impose, here in the United States, to keep out agricultural imports. We do this in order to protect our domestic agriculture. But for the most part the benefits go to agribusiness corporations and other large-scale producers, most of whom already have high incomes even by American standards. Small-scale farmers mostly miss out. The big losers, however, are the low-income countries that can’t sell here what they produce. (And, of course, American consumers also lose because we have to pay more for protected items, like sugar, that these quotas keep out.)

Q: We want to foster economic growth, but does that mean we just have to roll over for businessman and give them everything they want? What limits do we have to impose?
A: Fostering economic growth certainly doesn’t mean automatically saying yes to whatever business–or, for that matter, labor, or farmers, or any other constituency–proposes. We need to keep in mind that the primary objective of our economic policy is to help America become more productive and competitive, and therefore enable our economy to deliver a rising standard of living to as many of our citizens as we can. Further, to the extent that one reason we want to encourage economic growth in the first place is to foster the kind of social, political and moral advances on which my book focuses, it makes no sense to spur growth with policies that, at least in the short run, undermine those more fundamental objectives. Instead, whenever we can, we should turn to growth-promoting policies that also enhance opportunity and fairness in our society–for example, programs that enable more young Americans, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to get the education they need to become productive members of the work force during their adult lives.

Q: The tax cuts of 2001, 2003 and the current estate/death tax repeal seem particularly short-sighted given the dire effects of the enormous deficit that you describe in the last chapter of your book. Why don’t people worry more about deficit management? Having just finished your book, I’m having trouble sleeping! Are you fearful about America’s future?
A: I wish more Americans today were worrying about the damage that sustained large-scale government borrowing is doing to our country’s economic growth. There’s a false sense today that because we managed to overcome the deficits that grew out of the Reagan budget policies, in the 1980s and early 1990s, we needn’t do anything about the problem now, that the deficit will take care of itself. That’s a serious misreading of what happened. The deficits of the 1980s turned into surpluses by the mid-1990s not just because the economy did well but also because of two rounds of tax increases (in 1990 and 1993) and two rounds of spending cuts (in 1993 and 1995). Whether by tax increases or spending cuts, or more likely both, today we need to take positive steps to restore our government’s fiscal balance. Putting the government budget in order will help our economy grow, and that in turn will help us maintain, and over time even enhance, the social and political strength of our democracy.

Q: In the final chapter of the book, you lay out some proposals to improve America’s economic growth prospects–raising taxes, radically overhauling Medicare and social security, increasing the rate of saving in America and, as a priority, improving education. What will it take to make these changes? How important is it that they happen?
A: Precisely because our economy has been delivering so little improvement for the great majority of Americans–an increase of only .7 percent per year over the last 30 years for those in the middle of the income distribution–it’s important to do whatever we can to spur our growth. And that challenge will become all the greater in just a few years, when the baby-boom generation starts to draw on Social Security and Medicare. I think we know what we need to do on the policy front. What’s missing is the political determination to make the necessary changes. Part of the point of a book like mine is to help make clear, to as many people as possible, what’s at stake. The chief message of my book is that what’s at issue is far more than just economic performance. The moral character of our society is at risk as well.


From the Hardcover edition.

Praise

Praise

“An impressive work: commanding, insistent and meticulously researched.” –The New York Times Book Review“Hugely provocative.” –The Washington Post“A major work. . . . This kind of reasoned analysis is precisely what is necessary to put the United States back on the right track.” –Foreign Affairs“Absorbing. . . . A thorough, historically detailed, accessible exploration.” –The Economist“Friedman has scored a dead-center hit on the critical question: Why do we value economic growth? . . . Provide[s] a new framework and language for discussing economic growth, one that’s useful for economists, politicians, and business leaders alike.” –BusinessWeek“One extreme belief about economic growth is that it is self-evidently its own reward. The opposite extreme is the belief that economic growth is wasteful and dehumanizing. Along comes Ben Friedman to argue calmly, thoroughly and convincingly that rising incomes create an environment favorable to democracy, tolerance and solidarity, while stagnation does the reverse. But government policy matters for the actual outcome, and understanding matters for the choice of policy. This is a strong case, and Friedman lays it out with a wealth of historical and international detail.”–Robert Solow“Benjamin Friedman goes beyond and above the usual run of economic discussion. He is concerned not only with how the economy functions but also with how it serves the common good. The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth will stand as a major contribution to social well-being. It could not be more timely and welcome.”–John Kenneth Galbraith, author of The Affluent Society “Friedman’s book renews the proud tradition of Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments. He provides a stunning, comprehensive view of economic growth and proposes a positive outlook of its moral consequences. Debatable, yes, but an argument one has to confront in assessing public policy toward globalization and aid to developing countries.”–Daniel Bell, author of The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism “The most important studies of economic growth and development are those that go beyond the numbers and illuminate performance and its consequences by moral concerns and goals. This wider range is what gives the works of such giants as Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill their timeless relevance; and it is what promises to give this new study by Benjamin Friedman its transcendental importance. He conveys this larger wisdom with a clarity and intellectual passion that make this book a nascent classic, a ‘must read.’ ”–David S. Landes, author of The Wealth and Poverty of Nations “This book reminds us all of a truly important moral issue–the likely effects of economic growth or stagnation on society’s tolerance, its fairness, and its democratic values. Ben Friedman establishes yet again why he is one of America’s best economists.” –Peter G. Peterson, chairman, Council on Foreign Relations“Reading this book is an experience in discovering meaning in our economic lives. Friedman insightfully connects our sense of moral purpose with the business activities that figure so largely in our everyday endeavors. A fascinating view of world history.”–Robert J. Shiller, author of Irrational Exuberance“This powerful book achieves the rare feat of transforming economics into a social science. Friedman’s argument is both convincing and fascinating to read.”–Peter L. Bernstein, author of Against the Gods “Friedman demonstrates how economic growth promotes the social, political, and economic well-being of a citizenry, and he refutes the popular myth that economic growth is inconsistent with the development of human liberty and dignity. Fascinating and well documented.”–James J. Heckman, University of Chicago,2000 Nobel Laureate in Economics“This splendid book, written on a broad canvas that transcends parochial American concerns, is an important work that draws on insights from history and economics to argue that growth is a friend, not a foe, of prosperity and much else. It is a tour de force.” –Jagdish Bhagwati, author of In Defense of Globalization

  • The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth by Benjamin M. Friedman
  • September 12, 2006
  • Business & Economics - Economic History
  • Vintage
  • $18.95
  • 9781400095711

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