Summary of The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth

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The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth book summary
When economic times are good, societies are more moral. And when economic times are bad – everything is bad.


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Although author Benjamin M. Friedman teaches economics at Harvard, this book is not mainly about economics; it is mainly about morality. Friedman goes beyond traditional academic boundaries to propose that the moral tone of various Western democratic societies is connected to their economic growth. This impressive effort may introduce you to potential connections you might otherwise have ignored. However, Friedman offers both sides of the picture. Although economic growth correlates with social progress and stronger democracy, the correlation is not exact. There are some interesting counterexamples. Moreover, the question of how to define social moral progress is very much open. The author, for example, equates racial preferences in college admissions with moral progress, though that is a controversial issue. finds that this good, thought-provoking book offers a great deal of valuable insight into a seldom-considered aspect of economic growth.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How economic growth correlates with improvement in democracy and social morality
  • How history usually proves this correlation


Economic Growth in Social Context
Most discussions of economic growth refer to its strictly material results. Economic growth raises incomes and improves living standards, gives people additional comforts, increases travel opportunities, and drives investment in new ventures and technologies...
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About the Author

Benjamin M. Friedman is the William Joseph Maier Professor of Political Economy and formerly chairman of the Department of Economics at Harvard University.

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