Nobel Laureate Edmund Phelps and an international group of economists argue that economic health depends on the widespread presence of certain values, in particular individualism and self-expression.
Nobel Laureate Edmund Phelps has long argued that the high level of innovation in the lead nations of the West was never a result of scientific discoveries plus entrepreneurship, as Schumpeter thought. Rather, modern values—particularly the individualism, vitalism, and self-expression prevailing among the people—fueled the dynamism needed for widespread, indigenous innovation. Yet finding links between nations’ values and their dynamism was a daunting task. Now, in Dynamism, Phelps and a trio of coauthors take it on.
Phelps, Raicho Bojilov, Hian Teck Hoon, and Gylfi Zoega find evidence that differences in nations’ values matter—and quite a lot. It is no accident that the most innovative countries in the West were rich in values fueling dynamism. Nor is it an accident that economic dynamism in the United States, Britain, and France has suffered as state-centered and communitarian values have moved to the fore.
The authors lay out their argument in three parts. In the first two, they extract from productivity data time series on indigenous innovation, then test the thesis on the link between values and innovation to find which values are positively and which are negatively linked. In the third part, they consider the effects of robots on innovation and wages, arguing that, even though many workers may be replaced rather than helped by robots, the long-term effects may be better than we have feared. Itself a significant display of creativity and innovation, Dynamism will stand as a key statement of the cultural preconditions for a healthy society and rewarding work.
This book should be read by anyone interested in innovation. Ned Phelps, who is renowned for his original thinking and rigor, together with his colleagues, provide profound analytic insights which reveal the sources of dynamism across countries and time.
In this important book, Edmund Phelps, along with Raicho Bojilov, Hian Teck Hoon, and Gylfi Zoega, push economics back to its roots of understanding human satisfaction and flourishing. Linking satisfaction to innovation, they highlight entrepreneurship as commercializing the technological frontier. The ultimate payoff of this activity is dynamism, the flywheel of continuous innovation and the engine of mass flourishing. From this magisterial framing the authors tackle case studies of innovation globally, going from careful modeling if growth to reassurances about the effects of robots on our lives. This is a must-read book for any serious student of the economy’s—and our own human—potential.
Edmund Phelps and his colleagues have further developed his previous work on the sources of a nation’s economic dynamism by delving deeply into the idea of human flourishing. Their findings on the central role of daily work, the knowledge we acquire from doing it, and the innovations we inevitably bring to it are utterly convincing. The authors’ tracing of economic dynamism to the worth people place on their own craftsmanship (there is no better expression for it) is social science at its most sublime.
Over the years, Edmund Phelps has developed a deep and important theory explaining why productivity growth in the U.S. increased dramatically in the nineteenth century and has declined in recent decades. This book puts the theory to the empirical test. It is essential reading for those who care about the past and future of capitalism.
A fresh breath of air to stale debates about how to restore long-term growth in advanced economies…Phelps’s perspective is a necessary complement to the standard intellectual frameworks that tend to guide policy thinking around innovation and productivity growth…His iconoclasm shows by example how economics can benefit from an open-mindedness to broader social thinking.
- 256 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
Sorry, there was an error adding the item to your shopping bag.
Sorry, your session has expired. Please refresh your browser's tab.