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Danish Center for Welfare Studies

History of Capitalism: How Social Spending Has Worked

Peter Lindert (Distinguished Professor of Economics (Emeritus), University of California - Davis) speaking at DIAS about "History of Capitalism: How Social Spending Has Worked"

Guest lecture

The book Making Social Spending Work (2021) aims at diverse audiences, including journalists, policy advisors, students, and scholars. The DIAS presentation focuses on a few of the book’s contributions at the scholarly frontier.

It selects these four frontier themes:

(1) The world’s greatest error in social policy has been the underfunding of mass education. The error dates back to the commercial revolution and the rise of fiscal capacity in the early modern era. I offer an update on the roles of autocracy and democracy in launching state schools.

(2) Comparative history now reveals the best and the worst approaches to parental school choice.

(3) Growth is often compromised by a bias toward the elderly and elites in social budgets, especially in the global South. Some advanced countries risk moving in the same direction, while others have remained faithful to pro-growth investment in the young and the poor.

(4) The current pandemic offers lessons for social policy that broadly reinforce the lessons from longer-run global history.

This lecture is a part of our program on the history of capitalism. Read the full program here.

About Peter H. Lindert

Economic historian Peter H. Lindert is Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of California – Davis and a Research Associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). His works relating to the DIAS event include his prize-winning book Growing Public: Social Spending and Economic Growth since the Eighteenth Century (2004), the book Unequal Gains: American Growth and Inequality since 1700 (2016, with Jeffrey Williamson), and now Making Social Spending Work (2021).

Peter H. Lindert has expertise in economic history and public economics. He is a research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). He studies the causes and effects of modern fiscal redistribution; and the history of inequality, political voice and economic growth.

He received as co-recipient (with Jeffrey G. Williamson) the Economic History Association’s biennial Gallman-Parker Prize for Lifetime Contribution to Data Set Creation in September 2019.
The Economic History Association created and funded The Lindert-Williamson Prize for an outstanding book in global, African, Asian, Australian, and/or South American economic history, 2019.


Sign up for the lecture by following this link.


Editing was completed: 09.12.2021