Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth Paperback – September 12, 2006
Featured business titles
Sponsored by McGraw-Hill Learn more.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Ever feel like you just can't get ahead with the bills? You're not alone. More than half of Americans believe the American dream has become impossible for most people to achieve. And two-thirds think this goal will be even harder for the next generation. (One reason for the gloominess--average full-time income has fallen 15 percent since 1975.) All this has Benjamin Friedman worried. In his hefty, 549-page tome, The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, the acclaimed Harvard economist and advisor to the Federal Reserve Board says economic stagnation is bad for the moral health of a nation. Friedman, a former chair of Harvard's economics department, argues that economic growth is vital to social and political progress. Witness Hitler's Germany. Without growth, people look for answers in intolerance and fear. And that, Friedman warns, is where the U.S. is headed if the economic stagnation of the past three decades doesn't soon reverse. It's not enough for gross domestic product to rise, he says. Growth also has to be more evenly distributed. The rich shouldn't be the only ones getting richer.
Friedman's arguments are provocative but at times lack rigor. In his comparisons of various countries, he offers no objective data to measure their levels of social progress, relying instead on his own--sometimes selective--interpretation of historical events. He glosses over the fact that China, where the economy has grown sevenfold since 1978, has seen little political change in that time. He also acknowledges that the Great Depression--which brought Americans together to achieve great social and political progress--tends to disprove his theory. Friedman makes a good case that the economy sometimes influences social movements, but the jury is still out on exactly when and how that happens. --Alex Roslin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This probing study argues that, far from fostering rapacious materialism, economic growth is a prerequisite for the creation of a liberal, open society. Harvard economist Friedman, author of Day of Reckoning: The Consequences of American Economic Policy in the 1980s, contends that periods of robust economic growth, in which most people see their circumstances palpably improving, foster tolerance, democracy and generous public support for the disadvantaged. Economic stagnation and insecurity, by contrast, usher in distrust, retrenchment and reaction, as well as a tightfisted callousness toward the poor and—from the nativism of 19th-century Populists to the white supremacist movement of the 1980s—a scapegoating of immigrants and minorities. Exploring two centuries of historical evidence, from income and unemployment data to period novels, Friedman elucidates connections between economic conditions, social attitudes and public policy throughout the world. He offers a nuanced defense of globalization against claims that it promotes inequality and, less convincingly, remains optimistic that technology will resolve the conflicts between continual growth and environmental degradation. Friedman's progressive attitude doesn't extend to his cautious approach to promoting growth in America; a critic of Bush's tax cuts and deficits, he advocates fiscal discipline to free savings for investment, along with educational initiatives, including "school choice," to boost worker productivity. Its muted conclusion aside, Friedman's is a lucid, judiciously reasoned call for renewed attention to broad-based economic advancement. (Oct. 25)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
Friedmand writes that: "Economic growth - meaning a rising standard of living for a clear majority of citizens - more often than not fosters greater oppurtunity, tolerance of diversity, social mobility, commitment to fairness and dedication to democracy." And conversely, when there is economic stagnation or decline the citizen's "moral character" tends to decline accordingly, there being less tolerance, less openess, and less generosity to the poor and the disadvantaged.
Using the United States as a case in point, Friedman argues that from 1953 to 1973 median family income doubled. As the economy grew and Americans prospered, society became more open and tolerant. During this period, segregation became unconstitutional, the right to vote was guaranteed, racial discrimination was banned, fair housing and equal employment opportunity legislation was enacted. These events made America a more just and equitable society. Then from 1973 to 1995, the average wage in today's dollars declined. The national mood toward progressive social programs began to sour. Indeed these programs were cited by some as being unduly burdensome and being the cause of slow wage growth. Nevertheless, in times of falling incomes, Americans naturally become more concerned with their share of the shrinking economic pie. Friedman also sees here a deterioration of moral character.
It should be fairly obvious by now that Friedman is a liberal and equates morality with social welfare programs - this being the most contentious issue of the book. Conservatives and libertarians will be quick to point out that support for affirmative action, immigration, strong unions, endangered species, etc. have been detrimental to economic growth and are, therefore, by Friedman's definition, immoral. These critics will claim that in order to foster economic growth we must have reduced taxes, less regulation, non-union labor and fewer workplace rules. The resulting economic growth would raise all boats, and would thus be morally correct.
Friedman and his critcs do not disagree that the end result of economic growth - aside from material well-being - should be tolerance, openess, social mobility and dedication to democracy. They disagree on the means of achieving those goals. Friedman favors government intervention on behalf of the poor and the disadvantaged. The big question is whether or not it is in fact helping them. Two other books that have examined this question are Amartya Sen's "Development As Freedom" and Jeffrey Sach's "The End of Poverty." They have concluded that the poor must be provided with at least the basic tools for develpment. This doesn't mean generous welfare programs, but it does mean some public assistance - they need basic capablilites to achieve and contribute to society. Friedman is at his best when he stresses the importance of economic growth in providing these opportunities.
In the years following World War II, Friedman saw inequality widening for four consecutive decades and, “Especially at the very top of the scale—not just the top 1 percent, but even more so the top 0.01 percent— the increases in income and wealth have been enormous.” The disparities continue even now and often widen. We see examples of generosity on the part of some among the very top one percent generously sharing their wealth, models of change that would make dramatic differences among those who presently have little. It would not be too much to say that the real measure of success in a democratic society is not just how well it succeeds in generating capital sufficient for the welfare of its people, but whether it also builds institutions, shared capabilities and the common will and determination to share the wealth. The more common and widespread inclination among those at the top, in positions of power and wealth, is the clear determination to follow the pattern of their predecessors in earlier generations to strengthen and extend their hold."
This is a book that should be required reading for members of Congress and Supreme Court Justices.
Richard Thayer, PhD
Founder & President, Telecommunications & Technologies International