How important is luck in economic success? No question more reliably divides conservatives from liberals. As conservatives correctly observe, people who amass great fortunes are almost always talented and hardworking. But liberals are also correct to note that countless others have those same qualities yet never earn much. In recent years, social scientists have discovered that chance plays a much larger role in important life outcomes than most people imagine. In Success and Luck, bestselling author and New York Times economics columnist Robert Frank explores the surprising implications of those findings to show why the rich underestimate the importance of luck in success—and why that hurts everyone, even the wealthy.
Frank describes how, in a world increasingly dominated by winner-take-all markets, chance opportunities and trivial initial advantages often translate into much larger ones—and enormous income differences—over time; how false beliefs about luck persist, despite compelling evidence against them; and how myths about personal success and luck shape individual and political choices in harmful ways.
But, Frank argues, we could decrease the inequality driven by sheer luck by adopting simple, unintrusive policies that would free up trillions of dollars each year—more than enough to fix our crumbling infrastructure, expand healthcare coverage, fight global warming, and reduce poverty, all without requiring painful sacrifices from anyone. If this sounds implausible, you’ll be surprised to discover that the solution requires only a few, uncontroversial steps.
Compellingly readable, Success and Luck shows how a more accurate understanding of the role of chance in life could lead to better, richer, and fairer economies and societies.
“The most skillful writer in economics has now written an amazing book on luck. Robert Frank brilliantly explains why luck is playing an increasingly important role in the world’s outcomes, why it is hard for all of us to realize it, and why there is a simple fix to the vast inequalities caused by sheer luck—a solution that will make all of our lives better. You will feel very lucky to have read it.”
Nicholas Epley, author of Mindwise: Why We Misunderstand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want
“Success and Luck is a wonderful read—insightful, humorous, loaded with evidence, and full of common sense.”
Frank Convery, chief economist of the Environmental Defense Fund
Robert H. Frank is an economics professor at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, a regular columnist for the New York Times, and a distinguished senior fellow at Demos. His books, which have been translated into twenty-two languages, include The Winner-Take-All Society, The Economic Naturalist, Luxury Fever, What Price the Moral High Ground?, and Principles of Economics.
- Publisher: Brilliance Audio
- Genre: Nonfiction/Business & Economics
- ISBN-13: 978-1-5113-6785-1