New Book by Edmund Phelps

Nobel Laureate and Professor Edmund Phelps has a new book, Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change (Princeton University Press, September 2013).  In Mass Flourishing, 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.  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.