The Bourgeois Deal: Leave Me Alone, and I'll Make You Rich

48 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2018

See all articles by Art Carden

Art Carden

Brock School of Business, Samford University

Deirdre Nansen McCloskey

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 8, 2018


For almost all of history, people were extremely poor. Beginning in the seventeenth century, European countries (and their overseas extensions) began to grow extremely wealthy. Since World War II, enrichment has spread around the world with the “Asian Tigers” of Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea becoming wealthy and with Chinese and Indian per capita income growing rapidly in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Extensive research has emphasized the material and later the institutional underpinnings of economic growth, but McCloskey (2006, 2010, 2016) argues that changes in how we think, speak, and write about entrepreneurs and innovators explains what she calls the Great Enrichment. In this essay, we explore some of the “materialist” hypotheses for economic growth and explain how changing ideas about entrepreneurship led to modern prosperity.

Note: This essay is drawn from an ongoing collaborative project between Carden and McCloskey based on McCloskey’s three volumes The Bourgeois Virtues (2006), Bourgeois Dignity (2010), and Bourgeois Equality (2016). In particular, the essay is drawn specifically from Carden’s remarks to students and faculty members at Hampden-Sydney College, College of Charleston, Charleston Southern University, the Citadel, Northwood University, Hope College, Aquinas College, Spring Arbor University, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, McKendree University, the University of Central Florida, Troy University, Southern Methodist University, Ball State University, Campbell University, Mercer University, North Dakota State University, Florida State University, and conferences and seminars sponsored by the Independent Institute, the Foundation for Economic Education, Istituto Ordem Livre, and the Institute for Humane Studies. Some parts of the essay are adapted directly from McCloskey (2006, 2010, 2016).

Keywords: The Bourgeois Deal, economic growth

JEL Classification: 800

Suggested Citation

Carden, Art and McCloskey, Deirdre N., The Bourgeois Deal: Leave Me Alone, and I'll Make You Rich (March 8, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Art Carden (Contact Author)

Brock School of Business, Samford University ( email )

800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, AL 35229
United States


Deirdre N. McCloskey

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

725 University Hall (UH)
Chicago, IL 60607-7121
United States

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