Thomas Sowell

Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy
Awards and Honors:
American Philosophical Society
National Academy of Education

Thomas Sowell is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution.

He writes on economics, history, social policy, ethnicity, and the history of ideas. His most recent books on economics include Housing Boom and Bust (2009), Intellectuals and Society (2009), Applied Economics (2009), Economic Facts and Fallacies (2008), Basic Economics (2007), and Affirmative Action Around the World (2004). Other books on economics he has written include Classical Economics Reconsidered (1974), Say’s Law (1972), and Economics: Analysis and Issues (1971). On social policy he has written Knowledge and Decisions (1980), Preferential Policies (1989), Inside American Education (1993) and The Vision of the Anointed (1995). On the history of ideas he has written Marxism (1985) and Conflict of Vision (1987). His most recent books are Barbarians Inside the Gates (1999) and The Quest for Cosmic Justice (1999). Sowell also wrote Late-Talking Children (1997). He has also written a monograph on law titled Judicial Activism Reconsidered, published by the Hoover Institution Press. His writings have also appeared in scholarly journals in economics, law, and other fields.

Sowell’s current research focuses on cultural history in a world perspective, a subject on which he began to write a trilogy in 1982. The trilogy includes Race and Culture (1994), Migrations and Cultures (1996), and Conquests and Cultures (1998).

Sowell's journalistic writings include a nationally syndicated column that appears in more than 150 newspapers from Boston to Honolulu. Some of these essays have been collected in book form, most recently in Ever Wonder Why? and Other Controversial Essays published by the Hoover Institution Press.

Over the past three decades, Sowell has taught economics at various colleges and universities, including Cornell, Amherst, and the University of California at Los Angeles, as well as the history of ideas at Brandeis University. He has also been associated with three other research centers, in addition to the Hoover Institution. He was project director at the Urban Institute, 1972-1974, a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, 1976–77, and was an adjunct scholar of the American Enterprise Institute, 1975-76.

Sowell was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2002. In 2003, Sowell received the Bradley Prize for intellectual achievement. Sowell received his bachelor’s degree in economics (magna cum laude) from Harvard in 1958, his master’s degree in economics from Columbia University in 1959, and his PhD in economics from the University of Chicago in 1968.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

The Biggest Scandal

by Thomas Sowellvia Conservative Voice
Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The worst thing said in the case involving rape charges against Duke University students was not said by either the prosecutor or the defense attorneys, or even by any of the accusers or the accused…

The Cure for Poverty? Wealth

by Thomas Sowellvia Hoover Digest
Sunday, April 30, 2006

If creating wealth is the best way to lift people out of poverty, why is the left so uninterested? Thomas Sowell explains.

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The High Price of Oil—and of Demagoguery

by Thomas Sowellvia Hoover Digest
Monday, January 30, 2006

Big Oil may be an easy target for politicians, but every investigation into high gas prices turns up a single culprit—supply and demand. Go figure. By Thomas Sowell.

Is Anti-Semitism Generic?

by Thomas Sowellvia Hoover Digest
Saturday, July 30, 2005

What do Jews have in common with Armenians, Ibos, and Marwaris? An historically similar pattern of economic and social roles—and of persecution. By Thomas Sowell.

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Think Rushmore

by Thomas Sowellvia Hoover Digest
Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Bush administration faces challenges and dangers of a kind that few other administrations in all our history have ever had to face. But these historic challenges and dangers also represent historic opportunities. By Thomas Sowell.

Affirmative Action around the World

by Thomas Sowellvia Hoover Digest
Saturday, October 30, 2004

Thomas Sowell recently concluded a study of affirmative action programs around the world, from India and Malaysia to Nigeria and the United States. His findings? Such programs have at best a negligible impact on the groups they are intended to assist.

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 WAYS: Affirmative Action around the World

with Thomas Sowellvia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, May 3, 2004

In the United States, affirmative action policies, first implemented to address the historical grievances of black Americans, have long been controversial. But the debate over affirmative action has generally ignored such action as practiced by other countries around the world. Has affirmative action proven to be more or less effective in other countries? What common patterns do these programs share? How can the study of these programs help our understanding of affirmative action in America?

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Low Taxes Do What?

by Thomas Sowellvia Hoover Digest
Friday, April 30, 2004

The high cost of economic illiteracy. By Hoover fellow Thomas Sowell.

Controversial Essays

Controversial Essays

by Thomas Sowellvia Hoover Institution Press
Monday, September 16, 2002

One of conservatism's most articulate voices dissects today's most important economic, racial, political, education, legal, and social issues, sharing his entertaining and thought-provoking insights on a wide range of contentious subjects.

The New Welfare Queens

by Thomas Sowellvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Are transfers of wealth to Third World governments really an aid to economic development? Hoover fellow Thomas Sowell says no and explains why “foreign aid” is more often foreign hindrance.