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Inequality, The Bourgeois, And Ideas That Changed The World With Deirdre McCloskey

“Our riches were made not by piling brick on brick, bank balance on bank balance, but by piling idea on idea.”


Deirdre McCloskey, an American economist, joined the Federalist Radio Hour to discuss inequality, free markets, and the long-time professor’s latest book, Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World. 

McCloskey explained how much better off the world is now compared to our ancestors, despite our desire for the nostalgic good old days. “From 1800 to the present, world income has increased by a factor of 10 in real terms, and if you allow for a quality change, it’s more like a factor of 100,” McCloskey said.  “The scope of a modern life is dramatically larger…because the attitude toward the Bourgeois changed.”

Later in the hour, McCloskey shared about developing as an economist and evolving major positions on socialism, Marxism, and equality over time. “If you’re the child of a Harvard professor as I was, you have no idea where productivity or income comes from,” McCloskey said. “Economics in the material sense cannot explain the modern world, how rich we got.”

Listen now: