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 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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Thomas Sowell
In the News

Happy 90th Birthday, Thomas Sowell

featuring Thomas Sowellvia Legal Insurrection
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Today is Thomas Sowell’s 90th birthday, and I want to wish him a very happy one.

Hoover senior fellow Thomas Sowell
In the News

Thomas Sowell At 90

featuring Thomas Sowellvia CATO
Monday, June 29, 2020
On June 30, 2020, Thomas Sowell turns 90. He is one of the most important economic and social thinkers of the last 50 years. I say that, recognizing that his career overlapped such luminaries as Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.
Thomas Sowell lauds Friedman’s life and his impact on modern economics and public policy.
In the News

An Underappreciated American Scholar

featuring Thomas Sowellvia Creators
Monday, June 29, 2020
Dr. Thomas Sowell has been both a friend and a colleague of mine for over a half-century. On June 30, he will have completed his 90th year of life, and I want to highlight some important features of that life.

Thomas Sowell And John Yoo: School Of Sowell

interview with Thomas Sowell, John Yoovia The Ricochet Podcast
Friday, June 26, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Thomas Sowell discusses his new book Charter Schools and Their Enemies and Hoover Institution fellow John Yoo discusses last week’s curious Supreme Court DACA and Bostock decisions.

In the News

Of Marxism And Murder: The Professor In The Peruvian Prison

quoting Thomas Sowellvia Foundation for Economic Education
Friday, June 26, 2020

To waste your life chasing delusions is bad enough. To sacrifice innocent lives without remorse as you pursue those fantasies is downright criminal. It defines you as a sociopath and a homicidal maniac.

In the News

The Black Lives Matter Movement Has Gone Too Far

quoting Thomas Sowellvia The Article
Friday, June 26, 2020

To be honest, I’ve had about as much Black Lives Matter as I can take. The BLM and Antifa mob, here and in America, have got the bit between their teeth and have really gone for it, beyond all reason, into the realm of lunacy.

In the News

What Should We Make Of The Ethnic ‘Pay Gap’?

cited Thomas Sowellvia The Spectator
Thursday, June 25, 2020

If one group earns more and enjoys better workplace success than another, does that mean the less successful group is being discriminated against? There might be individual examples of discrimination but I’m not convinced this is proof of institutional discrimination.


Charter Schools’ Enemies Block Black Success

by Thomas Sowellvia The Wall Street Journal
Thursday, June 18, 2020

For decades, there has been widespread anxiety over how, when or whether the educational test score gap between white and non-white youngsters could be closed. But that gap has already been closed by the Success Academy charter school network in New York City.

In the News

Thomas Sowell On The Housing Boom And Bust

featuring Thomas Sowellvia Frontier Centre for Public Policy
Tuesday, January 14, 2020

“Although the housing boom and bust has national repercussions its origins tended to be concentrated in particular places. Most of the adventurous financing was concentrated in places like coastal areas like California, Phoenix, Florida, which was where the great bulk of the defaults and foreclosures had occurred in later years. In fact, you can break it down into particular counties within these states..."

In the News

Slavery's Legacy

featuring Thomas Sowellvia The Washington Examiner
Thursday, September 19, 2019

There’s a problem with the idea that the legacy of slavery in America is the major deterrent today to social and economic progress by black Americans. And it’s being ignored as the New York Times and others seek to redefine America’s history as having been shaped more by slavery than any other factor.