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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Recent Commentary


Economist Thomas Sowell Warns Of The Dangers Of The Left's 'Social Justice'

interview with Thomas Sowellvia Fox News
Thursday, March 21, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Thomas Sowell says just because there are biases does not mean the biases cause disparities. And, Sowell notes that facts in the world of reality raise the crucial question as to whether the redistribution of income or wealth can actually be done.

In the News

Thomas Sowell Makes A Clear Point About Medicare-For-All

quoting Thomas Sowellvia NOQ Report
Tuesday, March 19, 2019

How was the left able to take heat away from their Medicare-for-All proposal, and more specifically the estimated $32 trillion price tag over a decade? They tripled down with the Green New Deal, which some estimate would cost upwards near $100 trillion.

In the News

Sorry, Sandy, Capitalism Needs No Redemption

quoting Thomas Sowellvia American Thinker
Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Addressing an audience at Austin’s South by Southwest conference, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called capitalism an “irredeemable system.” “Capitalism is the ideology of capital,” she says. “The most important thing is the concentration of capital and to seek and maximize profit.” 


The Dangers Of The 'Social Justice' Vision

by Thomas Sowellvia Fox News
Saturday, March 16, 2019

“Despite how persuasive the words of John Rawls and other ‘social justice’ advocates may be in the world of words, demonstrated facts in the world of reality raise the crucial question as to whether the redistribution of income or wealth can actually be done, in any comprehensive and sustainable sense. Where, instead, there is simply a humanitarian desire to see the less fortunate have better prospects for a better life, the ‘social justice’ argument is both unnecessary and an impediment to joining forces toward that end with others who do not happen to share the implicit assumption of that particular social vision.

In the News

Resurgent Thomas Sowell Weighs In On Socialism, Venezuela

featuring Thomas Sowellvia Independent Institute
Thursday, March 14, 2019
In 2016, Hoover Institution economist Thomas Sowell, 86, decided to give up his nationally syndicated column and “spend less time following politics and more time on my photography.” Sowell practically dropped out of sight, but recently decided to speak out on an idea that was troubling him.
Thomas Sowell in front of a black background with an Uncommon Knowledge mug
In the News

Shareef: Four Books Northam Should Read

quoting Thomas Sowellvia Roanoke Times
Tuesday, March 12, 2019

I would suggest a reading of conservative economist Thomas Sowell’s (1996) “Race and Culture: A Worldview.” Sowell details how the modern world culture is the result of “cultural borrowings.” 

In the News

Stanford Hoover Institution Economist Targets Socialism, Fears ‘We May Not Make It’

featuring Thomas Sowellvia California Globe
Tuesday, March 12, 2019

From his base at California’s Stanford University Hoover Institution, Thomas Sowell authored a series of thoughtful books, wrote a nationally syndicated column, and often appeared on television. In a 2016 column headlined “Farewell,” the 86-year-old economist pledged to “spend less time following politics and more time on my photography.”

In the News

Socialism And “The “Experts”

mentioning Thomas Sowellvia Power Line Blog
Monday, March 11, 2019

If you really want to learn about socialism or Marxism, how about listing Thomas Sowell's book on the subject by the simple title Marxism?

Thomas Sowell lauds Friedman’s life and his impact on modern economics and public policy.
In the News

Return Of The Sowell Man

featuring Thomas Sowellvia Front Page Magazine
Monday, March 11, 2019
“Even the best things come to an end,” wrote Thomas Sowell in a December, 2016, column headlined “Farewell.” At the age of 86, the great economist had decided to stop writing his column and “spend less time following politics and more time on my photography.” Since then, Sowell has been rather quiet, but current political trends have prompted him to re-emerge.
In the News

Why Rent Control Is Wrong For Chicago

quoting Thomas Sowellvia Crain's Chicago Business
Monday, March 11, 2019

If rent control solved the workforce housing crisis, it would have been the law of the land long ago.