In this book, Nobel Prize-winning economist Edmund Phelps draws
on a lifetime of thinking to make a sweeping new argument about
what makes nations prosper--and why the sources of that prosperity
are under threat today. Why did prosperity explode in some nations
between the 1820s and 1960s, creating not just unprecedented
material wealth but "flourishing"--meaningful work,
self-expression, and personal growth for more people than ever
before? Phelps makes the case that the wellspring of this
flourishing was modern values such as the desire to create,
explore, and meet challenges. These values fueled the grassroots
dynamism that was necessary for widespread, indigenous innovation.
Most innovation wasn't driven by a few isolated visionaries like
Henry Ford; rather, it was driven by millions of people empowered
to think of, develop, and market innumerable new products and
processes, and improvements to existing ones. Mass flourishing--a
combination of material well-being and the "good life" in a broader
sense--was created by this mass innovation.
Yet indigenous innovation and flourishing weakened decades ago.
In America, evidence indicates that innovation and job satisfaction
have decreased since the late 1960s, while postwar Europe has never
recaptured its former dynamism. The reason, Phelps argues, is that
the modern values underlying the modern economy are under threat by
a resurgence of traditional, corporatist values that put the
community and state over the individual. The ultimate fate of
modern values is now the most pressing question for the West: will
Western nations recommit themselves to modernity, grassroots
dynamism, indigenous innovation, and widespread personal
fulfillment, or will we go on with a narrowed innovation that
limits flourishing to a few?
A book of immense practical and intellectual importance,
Mass Flourishing is essential reading for anyone who cares
about the sources of prosperity and the future of the West.
Subjects: Economics, Political Science
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