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The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth

3.69  ·  Rating Details  ·  135 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
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–parti
Paperback, 592 pages
Published September 12th 2006 by Vintage (first published October 18th 2005)
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Friedman, an economist at Harvard University, argues that the not just the wealth of a country, but whether or not its economy is growing, has consequences for the openness of its society. Using case studies of the United States, France, Germany, and Britain, as well as episodes from other nation's histories, he shows that that there is a positive correlation between economic growth and other attractive social characteristics. For example, the American civil rights movement took place during dec ...more
Jul 27, 2011 John marked it as to-read
The main argument of the book, in a nutshell, is this. People want to feel better off. They have two standards to use in assessing this: (a) comparison to their neighbors, and (b) comparison to their own circumstances at an earlier time. If they feel better off by standard (b), then standard (a) will be relatively less important (and vice versa). Since it is obviously impossible for all members of society to be better off than their neighbors, an over-emphasis on standard (a) will lead to a frus ...more
The best measure of economic growth, Friedman argues, is how a person's economic status compares with that of their parents. If that status, overall, is growing, that is economic growth.

When such periods of wide-spread economic growth occur, we become, at least collectively if not individually, a more moral people.

It is during such periods of economic growth that Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka, KS, was issued. The Virginia law forbidding interracial marriage (Loving v. Virginia) was s
Feb 22, 2015 Jin rated it liked it
An epitome of neoliberalism: growth produces positive externalities, and over-emphasis on inequality in the society leads to unproductive discussions and ultimately a zero-sum society. It is worth reading, but it requires a critical attitude of mind.
Jan 21, 2009 Fiatluxury marked it as to-read
Again, this is about seeing if anyone has a compelling argument for why MORE is better. In this guy's case, the argument is that there is a correlation between growth - not just wealth, but productivity, innovation, blah blah - and liberalization of policies that we western 21st century types have moralized (human rights, individualism, ecology, that sort of thing.) I'm not sure how much cheerleading for growth I can tolerate, but it looks interesting. By the by, this is not the same (Thomas) Fr ...more
Michael Dowling
Jan 01, 2016 Michael Dowling rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed the book. I had read a rather detailed review of it on Amazon that countered some of the economics discussed, but I still found much of the history covered, especially of the US, very apt for the current political environment. I don't know that I subscribe to all of the authors ideas as to how to ensure future growth, but the examination of past growth and how it related to the politics of the time was worth the read for me.
Jan 25, 2009 Chris rated it liked it
A very interesting analysis of the importance of economic growth to a democratic society. The conclusion that growth leads to greater freedom, equality, etc. seems obvious, but Friedman uses many specific historical examples to prove this point. The conclusion is an important statement of what needs to happen in order for the U.S. to get back on its feet.
Mar 10, 2011 Hadrian rated it really liked it
Interesting hypothesis: relates economic growth to development of personal liberties. The big exception to this theory in the modern world is China, but one can see how tenuous their economic growth might be, not to mention push for personal liberties. Interesting and useful theory.
Oct 08, 2008 Mariana rated it liked it
Interesting, but a bit long. Haven't finished it, I had to return it to the library. I only got to page #335 (out of 436).
Jan 14, 2016 Chris rated it really liked it
Book is a little boring, but the subject matter is a pretty important one. Book is a balanced take.
Alison Prendergast
Mar 22, 2008 Alison Prendergast marked it as to-read
I've tried to read this twice so far. so dense! the book I mean, not me. hm.
Alex Cone
Apr 28, 2009 Alex Cone rated it it was amazing
This would be a good book for world policy makers to read right now.
Oct 18, 2012 Joseph rated it liked it
a rigorous academic read.
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Benjamin Morton Friedman (born 1944) is a leading American political economist. Friedman is the William Joseph Maier Professor of Political Economy at Harvard University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Brookings Institute's Panel on Economic Activity, and the editorial board of the Encyclopædia Britannica.

Friedman received his A.B., A.M., and Ph.D. degrees, all in economic
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