Economic Growth and Civility – There is a Connection

When people have more – more money, more resources – they are less likely to come apart as a society.  With economic growth, people are more likely to work together well, get along with each other, and accomplish greater things.

When there is good economic growth, people practice civility.

This is the view of  Benjamin M. Friedman in his book, The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth.  Here are two key quotes:

I believe that the rising intolerance and incivility and the eroding generosity and openness that have marked important aspects of American society in the recent past have been, in significant part, a consequence of the stagnation of American middle-class living standards during much of the last quarter of the twentieth century. 

When the attitudes of the broad majority of citizens are shaped by a rising standard of living, over time that difference usually leads to the positive development of – to use again the language of the Enlightenment – a society’s moral character. 

In other word’s, a society’s moral character is improved when there is more-than-adequate economic growth.  When growth slows down to a trickle, civility is one of the casualties.

Sounds like a pretty good description or our current situation, doesn’t it?

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