Some Recent Research on Freedom and Prosperity

Here are links to recent research papers on freedom and prosperity that are readable to many non-scholars. To access most of these, you need to join SSRN. A link will take you to the abstract. You then can either read the paper without downloading it or download as a pdf file. It’s safe, free and SSRN won’t pester you.

Research presents ideas. Ideas become “final” or accepted truths only after considerable tests of their validity. Papers are usually trials. They are tentative. They hardly ever close the door to more questions. They usually have limitations. They usually have competition. Research is satisfying only up to a point in adding exciting new ideas and findings, but it’s usually far from satisfying in making you feel that you really now have the answers you may be seeking. Research raises more questions.

1. Russell S. Sobel, The rise and decline of nations: the dynamic properties of institutional reform. The link.

An empirical paper that provides evidence in support of Higgs’ pathbreaking work on episodic increases in the size of government. It turns out, however, that declines in freedom and prosperity are much more rapid (10 years, say) than increases in freedom (20-30 years). This suggests that a nation should be very cautious toward accepting crisis talk from government and increasing government powers; reducing them is a much more arduous process. The paper suggests that free trade is a key first mover in institutional changes in both directions.

2. Deidre N. McCloskey, Manifesto for a new American liberalism, or How to be a humane libertarian. The link.

This is an address, not a research paper, but mainly an entertaining historical big picture account of classical liberalism versus slow socialism.

3. For those who like videos, here are two more addresses:

Douglas Irwin, The case for free trade since Ricardo. The link.

Peter J. Boettke, Taming Leviathan. The link.

Also available in print form: The link.

This list to be continued in a subsequent blog.


8:15 am on January 7, 2019