VIDEO: Deirdre McCloskey on “Bourgeois Dignity”


Given that it is International Women’s Day and almost CEI’s 35th anniversary, today is an excellent day to celebrate the impressive legacy of economist (and winner of CEI’s Julian Simon Award) Deirdre McCloskey. An impressive multi-disciplinarian who taught at the University of Illinois in the departments of economics, history, English, and communication, she is best known today for her trilogy of books on the “bourgeois virtues” and how those virtues made global capitalism (and eventually, global prosperity) possible. 

Here she is below, lecturing at the Mercatus Center in 2011 on the second volume in the trilogy, “Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World.”

CEI founder Fred Smith comments on Deirdre’s central point about the growth of capitalism in his 2016 study “The Morality and Virtues of Capitalism and the Firm: Defending Capitalism in Theory and Practice”:

The economist Deirdre McCloskey refers to capitalism’s achievements as “The Great Enrichment”—an almost 30-fold increase in living standards from the 1750s through today. During the early part of the Great Enrichment, the public recognized the value of that vast improvement in living standards. However, as the greater wealth made possible by capitalism spread throughout society, a middle class emerged, and with it an increasingly powerful class of intellectuals hostile to commerce and capitalism.

See also my 2017 blog post “McCloskey on Free Trade: Who Is it Good For?