Deirdre McCloskey

Nobel Conference 52

Professor Emeritus of Economics, History, English, and Communication, and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy and Classics, University of Illinois at Chicago

Lecture: How the World Grew Rich: The Liberal Idea, Not Accumulation or Exploitation

Deirdre McCloskey’s academic appointment hints at the broad compass of her work, which spans scientific research in economic history, technical economics and statistical theory; philosophical work on the limits and promises of the social sciences; and also writings on transgender advocacy.

In the most recent volume of her widely-acclaimed trilogy on bourgeois era virtues, entitled Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World, McCloskey argues that the ideas of liberalism that emerged in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, were the real engine of what she calls the “Great Enrichment” of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Trade and empire--material changes--could not by themselves explain the explosions in income. What were needed were new ideas about the emerging urban middle class.

McCloskey earned both her BA and her PhD in economics from Harvard, in 1964 and 1970, respectively. She is the author of 17 books. In addition to the Bourgeois Virtues trilogy, she is best known for The Rhetoric of Economics, a book which explores the role of metaphor in economic modeling; and Crossings: A Memoir, an account of McCloskey’s gender change. Her work has been recognized with seven honorary doctorates, and the Hayek Lifetime Achievement Award.

Watch Dr. McCloskey on PBS NewsHour about the idea of a guaranteed basic income.