Background to the Eugenics Movement and Influences on Friedrich Hayek

  • Ruth Clifford Engs
Part of the Archival Insights into the Evolution of Economics book series (AIEE)


Friedrich Hayek was against eugenics and the eugenics movement. Although from childhood he was familiar with the concepts of Darwinism and sometimes stated the Nordic superiority and anti-Semitic sentiments found among many Anglo-Germanic professionals and the educated middle and upper-middle classes during the first half of the twentieth century. However, British colleagues who were leaders in the eugenics movement influenced Hayek’s theory of the natural selection of groups and of central planning in a socialistic system. But, Hayek was against eugenics practices as illustrated by his opposition to state-controlled central planning and social engineering programs which included eugenics. He believed governmental social engineering could potentially lead to a totalitarian society and the lack of individual freedom through eugenic mandates as found under Nazism.


Eugenics Movement Nordic Superiority Racial Hygiene Movement Eugenic Sterilization Eugenics Society (ES) 
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Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth Clifford Engs
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Public HealthIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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