NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Popularity Of Free Market Economics

September 6, 2000

An unusually high number of the top 25 best-selling book titles in economics on the website were written by free market economists. Despite their popular appeal, such books are rarely published by major trade publishers. If not for small university presses, many of the most important 20th century free market economics books would never have seen the light of day.

A classic example is Friedrich A. Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom," originally published during World War II. Even though it was a major best-seller in England, it could not find an American publisher, because it equated Communism and Naziism as different forms of socialism. Eventually, the University of Chicago Press published an American edition; it too was a best seller.

Hayek is among the three or four top free market economists of the 20th century -- the others being Milton Friedman, Henry Hazlitt and Ludwig von Mises.

  • "The Road to Serfdom" is still so popular that it appears on the list twice at Number 1 (paperback edition) and Number 13 (hardcover).
  • Friedman and Hazlitt also have books on the economics best-selling list: Friedman's book, "Capitalism and Freedom," is Number 4 on the list, and Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson" is Number 8.
  • Considering that Hayek's book was first published in 1944, Hazlitt's in 1946 and Friedman's in 1962, this is a remarkable achievement.

Equally interesting is the absence of any Marxist or socialist economist on the list. Thus it seems that the real free market, where people spend their own money for what they want, has voted overwhelmingly in favor of those economists who support and defend it.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, senior fellow, National Center for Policy Analysis, September 6, 2000.


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