Thomas Sowell

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

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 book, Discrimination and Disparities (2018), gathers a wide array of empirical evidence to challenge the idea that different economic outcomes can be explained by any one factor, be it discrimination, exploitation or genetics. His 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), The Vision of the Anointed (1995), Barbarians Inside the Gates (1999), and The Quest for Cosmic Justice (1999). On the history of ideas he has written Marxism (1985) and Conflict of Vision (1987). 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 in 1989. 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 in 2006.

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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In the News

Charter Schools And Their Enemies

featuring Thomas Sowellvia Education Next
Friday, July 10, 2020

There is a reason we’re told to respect our elders. It’s bracing and edifying to listen to voices of wisdom and experience. Those whose time grows short are compelled to speak clearly and directly. Thomas Sowell is one such voice. At age 90 and having broken his promise not to pick up his pen again, he has turned his gaze to the world of education, delivering Charter Schools and Their Enemies at a moment when those schools have come under intense scrutiny, their right to exist in question. Charter school leaders need their spines stiffened these days; their overreaching critics have earned a metaphorical punch in the nose. Sowell delivers both in a book he dedicates, as a reminder of what’s at stake, “to those children whose futures hang in the balance.”

In the News

Thomas Sowell: Common Sense In A Senseless World

featuring Thomas Sowellvia Twitter
Thursday, July 9, 2020

Watch the trailer for the upcoming documentary “Thomas Sowell: Common Sense in a Senseless World.”

In the News

The Collapsing Case Against Charter Schools

featuring Thomas Sowellvia Agenda, National Review
Thursday, July 9, 2020

Thomas Sowell — who will have just turned 90 when this review is published — could have retired by now. He could be publishing the memoirs of a celebrated intellectual or the late-career tracts of an éminence grise. What does he give us, instead? A methodologically rigorous, closely argued, data-driven case for charter schools, with very little high-flown rhetoric (I noted one exclamation point) and 94 pages of data tables. Charter Schools and Their Enemies is a bloodbath for Sowell’s intellectual opponents, and it ought to be a neutron bomb in the middle of the school-reform debate. But Thomas Sowell has been giving the reading public and the policymaking class some of the most intelligent advice to be had for many decades — why would they start listening to him now?

In the News

Walter Williams: Charter Schools Blowing Public Schools Out Of The Water On Testing

featuring Thomas Sowellvia CNS News
Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Dr. Thomas Sowell has just published "Charter Schools and Their Enemies." He presents actual test scores of students in traditional public schools and charter schools on the New York State Education Department's annual English language arts test and its Mathematics Test.

An Economist Looks at 90: Tom Sowell on Charter Schools and Their Enemies

interview with Thomas Sowellvia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, July 6, 2020

TRANSCRIPT ONLY

The day before this show was recorded, Dr. Thomas Sowell began his 10th decade of life. Remarkably on one hand and yet completely expected on the other, he remains as engaged, analytical, and thoughtful as ever. In this interview (one of roughly a dozen or so we’ve conducted with Dr. Sowell over the years), we delve into his new book Charter Schools and Their Enemies, a sobering look at the academic success of charter schools in New York City, and the fierce battles waged by teachers unions and progressive politicians to curtail them.

In the News

If SA’s Serious About Changing Course It Must Adopt Sowell’s Ideas Of Freedom

featuring Thomas Sowellvia City Press
Monday, July 6, 2020

On June 30, one of the greatest men in the history of classical liberalism celebrated his 90th birthday. Thomas Sowell stands as one of the greatest thinkers in the tradition of individual rights and economic freedom, of pushing back against the ever-controlling grasp of a stifling central government. Given South Africa is in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown, with little hope of where we can turn for growth in the future, there is no better time than now to discover the works of Sowell, and advocate for the ideas he holds.

In the News

Joe Biden's Race-Baiting Fourth of July Message

featuring Thomas Sowellvia PJ Media
Saturday, July 4, 2020
Joe Biden talking about systemic racism on the Fourth of July is pretty outrageous, especially given that he has been in a leadership position in the “system” for 50 years. Also, his main accomplishment was the 1994 crime bill that put more black and brown people in jail for more extended periods.
In the News

Top Basketball Recruit Commits To Howard University To 'Make The HBCU Movement Real'

featuring Thomas Sowellvia Forbes
Friday, July 3, 2020

Makur Maker, one of the nation's top-ranked prospects, announced Friday that he has committed to play college basketball at Howard University, over more established programs such as UCLA or Kentucky, stating a desire "to make the HBCU movement real so that others will follow."

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An Economist Looks at 90: Tom Sowell on Charter Schools and Their Enemies

interview with Thomas Sowellvia Uncommon Knowledge
Thursday, July 2, 2020

AUDIO ONLY

The day before this show was recorded, Dr. Thomas Sowell began his 10th decade of life. Remarkably on one hand and yet completely expected on the other, he remains as engaged, analytical, and thoughtful as ever. In this interview (one of roughly a dozen or so we’ve conducted with Dr. Sowell over the years), we delve into his new book Charter Schools and Their Enemies, a sobering look at the academic success of charter schools in New York City, and the fierce battles waged by teachers unions and progressive politicians to curtail them.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Featured

An Economist Looks at 90: Tom Sowell on Charter Schools and Their Enemies

interview with Thomas Sowellvia Uncommon Knowledge
Thursday, July 2, 2020

The day before this show was recorded, Dr. Thomas Sowell began his 10th decade of life. Remarkably on one hand and yet completely expected on the other, he remains as engaged, analytical, and thoughtful as ever. In this interview (one of roughly a dozen or so we’ve conducted with Dr. Sowell over the years), we delve into his new book Charter Schools and Their Enemies a sobering look at the academic success of charter schools in New York City, and the fierce battles waged by teachers unions and progressive politicians to curtail them.

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