Economic Theory

Sneak preview of Prof Bryan Caplan’s forthcoming Hayek Lecture

The Institute of Economic Affairs is delighted to announce that acclaimed US author Professor Bryan Caplan will give our 2019 Hayek Memorial Lecture.

Prof Caplan is the author of The Myth of the Rational Voter – hailed as ‘the best political book of the year’ by the New York Times.

His more recent book Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration has just hit the New York Times bestsellers list.

At this year’s Hayek lecture, Prof Caplan will unveil his latest project, POVERTY – Who’s to Blame?

Bryan Caplan is Professor of Economics at George Mason University, Virginia. He’s also author of The Case Against Education and Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids.  He’s featured in many publications – from the Wall Street Journal to the Washington Post – and appeared on ABC, BBC, Fox News and more.

Our thanks to CQS for their generous sponsorship of the Hayek Memorial Lecture.

If you’d like to attend this must-see event, register here, or RSVP to [email protected].

Below, you can find an abstract of Prof Caplan’s forthcoming presentation, republished from EconLib, the library of economics and liberty:


Who, if anyone, is morally to blame for the continued existence of severe poverty?

I argue that governments in both poor and rich countries bear primary responsibility. Governments in poor countries are blameworthy for stifling development with socialist and populist economic policies. Governments in rich countries are blameworthy for severely restricting immigration, which prevents citizens of poor countries from immigrating to escape their governments’ bad economic policies.

Especially in rich countries, however, the severely poor frequently bear secondary moral blame for poverty due to their own irresponsible behavior, most notably idleness, impulsive sex, and substance abuse.

The popular view that we should morally blame ordinary people in poor countries for their countries bad policies, but shouldn’t blame ordinary people for their own bad behavior, is doubly wrong: Individuals can and should choose to behave responsibly, but have near-zero influence over government policy.


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