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Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  169 ratings  ·  17 reviews
 There’s little doubt that most humans today are better off than their forebears. Stunningly so, the economist and historian Deirdre McCloskey argues in the concluding volume of her trilogy celebrating the oft-derided virtues of the bourgeoisie. The poorest of humanity, McCloskey shows, will soon be joining the comparative riches of Japan and Sweden and Botswana.

 

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Kindle Edition, 768 pages
Published April 21st 2016 by University of Chicago Press (first published April 18th 2016)
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Neil This book builds on the others but I think you can read it separately. In fact, I think you can probably dive into this book (using the extremely help…moreThis book builds on the others but I think you can read it separately. In fact, I think you can probably dive into this book (using the extremely helpful and clever table of contents) at any point that strikes your fancy and find something thought provoking and useful. (less)
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L.A. Starks
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazingly, after about 21 months, I have finished this book! For those who are even harder-core autodidacts than I, this is the second of a trilogy.
Nonetheless, if you want your college-in-a-box major of economic history, this is absolutely the book.

Despite the discursive, tangential--and entertaining--style (why write one sentence when you can turn it into five paragraphs?), Professor McCloskey has some very key points to make that can be found nowhere else:

a)The increase in the world's standa
...more
Charlie
The following is my decidedly non-expert review of Bourgeois Equality. I can't do full justice to this punchy, provocative, wide-ranging, and above all massive tome, but I can pick out some key themes for further reflection.

McCloskey's first step is to convince the reader that the world has undergone what she calls The Great Enrichment. That is, for most of human history, the world lived on the equivalent of $3-6 per day (in current US purchasing power). While a few nations (Haiti, Afghanistan)
...more
Paul
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a pleasure to read. The scope of McCloskey’s erudition is impressive and she is refreshingly commonsensical about economics and many of her fellow practitioners of it. The writing is fluid and on page after page there pop up instances of “I wish I’d said that!”

However, I have to say the case for her fundamental thesis is rather unconvincing. Briefly, the thesis is that the Great Enrichment that began in Holland and England in the 17th and 18th centuries and continues to this day th
...more
Larry Bernstein
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyable defense of capitalism

An entertaining and fascinating defense of capitalism. McCloskey takes on the entire field of economic history with wide references from literature and economics.
Todd
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
The book should be subtitled, "Thank (the Anglican) God for the Dutch!" Overall an excellent work and well worth reading. It is not technical and suitable for all audiences. The central idea goes something like this: For most of human history, the vast masses lived around $1-3 per day (adjusted), then all of a sudden, circa 1800, vast improvements caused populations to increase in prosperity by magnificent orders of magnitude, starting in northwest Europe, then spreading outward. The reason for ...more
Will A
Jan 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book will convince you there was a Dutch-British ethical and rhetorical "revaluation of the bourgeoisie" and of its practice of "trade-tested improvement". But despite the previous volume's preview in diagram form of the causal linkages between the change in ethos and the stream of mechanical innovations that made the Industrial Revolution, the causal connections are left vague. We are to understand that society became more willing to allow creative destruction and innovations that harmed v ...more
Siddhartha Banerjee
A measured libertarian manifesto some good points (some not so good). Unfortunately, extremely long winded too
Gabrielle Taylor
Prof McCloskey travels a vast expanse of history to describe the meteoric economic progress of the world beginning at the start of the 19th century. To do this, she compares the financial conditions and cultural norms and laws of people before and after the year 1800 in an effort to explain the dramatic improvement and increased wealth created in many civilizations worldwide. Her theme of liberty and dignity are logically tied to the free markets and hard-working, free people who have employed t ...more
Elizabeth
Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World (Hardcover)
by Deirdre N. McCloskey

ILL ordered from the library

Ref to this author/book from p 65 A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy by Joel Mokyr

TOC from Worldcat:
Contents: part I.A great enrichment happened, and will happen: 1. The world is pretty rich, but once was poor ; 2. For Malthusian and other reasons, very poor ; 3. Then many of us shot up the blade of a hockey stick ; 4. As your own life s
...more
Jesse Field
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For progress, or ’trade tested betterment’, to continue in this world, we have to let go of pessimism, turn away from nationalism and socialism, and remember that traders, inventors and managers bring us most of what’s good about our world thanks to free and open markets and societies. Egalitarian liberalism that gives everyone a shot at enterprise is the main thing, and regulation and taxation seldom help.

So goes McCloskey, a sort of virtue-obsessed libertarian who both illumines and elides in
...more
Vadim Polikov
The book takes a very strong perspective that the institutionalists like Acemoglu and North and Weingast are wrong about what caused liftoff because institutions don't have enough oomph and didn't change much during 1500-1700 before industrial evolution. Instead, it was a change in ideas and how entrepreneurship and trade was viewed in society. At first in Holland in 1585-1600s and then in England, merchants and tradesmen were no longer viewed as vile and low, but were now accepted and even cele ...more
Will
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The twentieth-century experiments of nationalism and socialism, of syndicalism in factories and central planning for investment, of proliferating regulation for imagined but not factually documented imperfections in the market, did not work. And most of the pessimisms about how we live now have proven to be mistaken. It is a puzzle. Perhaps you yourself still believe in nationalism or socialism or proliferating regulation. And perhaps you are in the grip of pessimism about growth or consumerism ...more
Brian
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-18
Having seen this book referenced on several occasions, I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately I was rather disappointed.

The first two sections essentially are a sales pitch, saying how she has the answer that everyone else in the world has missed. Alas, this section is particularly weak. Much of what she demolishes are straw men versions of the actual arguments/strategies, with the references strangely disappearing when she makes her most cutting points. While those who agree with her ph
...more
Jim Milway
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why did Europe and the Anglosphere do so well economically since the 1800s? Things like rule of law and capital accumulation certainly contributed. But McCloskey's message is that in these parts of the world, bourgeois values became accepted. Entrepreneurs and merchants, so reviled in Chaucer and Shakespeare, were free to innovate and add value. To her, freedom is the key to prosperity. Like Adam Smith she sees the importance of virtuous people (practising faith, hope, and charity).e income

She
...more
Matthew Henken
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McCloskey's Bourgeois Era trilogy should have been a five-star single volume. The whole trilogy is marvelous. Its topic is important and its argument is novel (at least to me) and persuasive (ditto) and the writing is fresh and conversational, but it is simply too bloated and repetitive to be as successful as it could be. Most people will not put up with it for 2000+ pages and so will not get the full argument. A stricter editor could have cut this way down while maintaining the best of it.
Dio Mavroyannis
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been looking for a book that I could recommend to everyone universally to understand what economics is really about... I think this is the book. It is not a simple read, but it is NOT cherry picked, it is the essential facts and then a scathing criticism of what it means to do theory based around those facts. It is a superb read!
Don Jansen
rated it it was amazing
Apr 28, 2019
David Williams
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Jun 23, 2018
Patrick
rated it it was ok
Sep 17, 2016
Tomasz Klosinski
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Dec 12, 2018
Neil
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Chu Thi Thuy
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Sep 21, 2018
H. McK. Birmingham
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Richard Cerminara
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Deirdre Nansen McCloskey has been distinguished professor of economics and history and professor of English and communications at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the author of numerous books, including Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World.

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“For reasons I do not entirely understand, the clerisy after 1848 turned toward nationalism and socialism, and against liberalism, and came also to delight in an ever-expanding list of pessimisms about the way we live now in our approximately liberal societies, from the lack of temperance among the poor to an excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Antiliberal utopias believed to offset the pessimisms have been popular among the clerisy. Its pessimistic and utopian books have sold millions. But the twentieth-century experiments of nationalism and socialism, of syndicalism in factories and central planning for investment, of proliferating regulation for imagined but not factually documented imperfections in the market, did not work. And most of the pessimisms about how we live now have proven to be mistaken. It is a puzzle. Perhaps you yourself still believe in nationalism or socialism or proliferating regulation. And perhaps you are in the grip of pessimism about growth or consumerism or the environment or inequality. Please, for the good of the wretched of the earth, reconsider.” 2 likes
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