Sociological Forum

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 715–719 | Cite as

The Moral Limits of Economic Growth

  • Amitai Etzioni
Review Essays

The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth. Benjamin M. Friedman. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.

In an erudite book, Harvard economist Benjamin Friedman argues that economic growth does not merely shower its beneficiaries with material goods but is also a moral blessing. Friedman readily acknowledges that his morality is hardly the same as the Christian Right's but has four cornerstones: democracy, mobility, opportunity, and tolerance. Call it liberal. Friedman presents a large variety of historical evidence to support his claim that there is a correlation between economic and moral growth, granting some exceptions, most notably the formation of the liberal New Deal in a period of negative economic growth.

In the following pages, I point to a whole slew of important questions that Friedman's analysis brings to mind, and differ with him on several key points. However, I cannot stress enough that the book is full of keen historical, cultural, economic, and social observations and...


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amitai Etzioni
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of International AffairsGeorge Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA

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