Ideas have enriched the world, enabling progress and disrupting history, according to economist and historian Deirdre Nansen McCloskey, who will speak at Clemson University on Monday, Oct. 30, as part of the John E. Walker Department of Economics Tullock Lecture series.

McCloskey, economist, Tullock, transgender

Deirdre McCloskey

A distinguished professor of economics and history, emeritus, at the University of Illinois at Chicago, McCloskey will deliver the Tullock Lecture, “Ideas Make Us Rich,” from 5-6:30 p.m. in the Tillman Hall Auditorium. Refreshments and informal discussion will follow the lecture.

In her book, Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World (University of Chicago Press, 2016), McCloskey says our accumulation of wealth over more than 200 years was the result of better ideas.  These brainstorms created superior technology and drastically improved institutions, but the ideas themselves were formative.  The point, in her view, is widely misunderstood by scholars.

“Our riches did not come from piling brick on brick, or bachelor’s degree on bachelor’s degree, or bank balance on bank balance, but from piling idea on idea. What made us rich are the ideas backing the system, which is often misleadingly called modern capitalism.”

McCloskey says many believe the rich have become richer and poor even poorer, but by the standard of basic comfort in essentials, it’s the poorest people on the planet that have gained the most.

“Liberty was the key to the Great Enrichment, or modern economic growth. Inequality of financial wealth goes up and down,” she said in a recent article, “but long term, it has been reduced.”

The Tullock Lecture series is sponsored by the Information Economy Project (IEP), housed in the John E. Walker Department of Economics at Clemson.

The IEP is directed by Thomas W. Hazlett, H.H. Macaulay Endowed Chair of Economics. For more information on the lecture or the activities of the IEP, go to www.IEP.Clemson.edu. Please direct any questions to Will Jackson wjacks4@g.clemson.edu.

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