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Policy Seminar: Is the Market Economy Culturally Harmful?

8 March 2024

IFN arranged a policy seminar on March 7, 2024, entitled “Is the Market Economy Culturally Harmful?”. It featured the presentation of two studies from the research project “Cultures of Trust and Institutions of Freedom”, financed by the John Templeton Foundation. The studies have been carried out and were presented by Niclas Berggren, Associate Professor of Economics at IFN, and Christian Bjørnskov, Professor of Economics at Aarhus University and affiliated with IFN

Christian Bjørnskov began by summarizing “Does Globalization Suppress Social Trust?”, followed by Niclas Berggren’s summary of “Does Capitalism Disfavor Women? Evidence from Life Satisfaction”. The first study finds that, contrary to what many critics of globalization have argued, international openness does not undermine social cohesion and trust. If anything, there is a small positive relationship, suggesting that rules that allow contact and exchange across borders are, on the whole, beneficial for the social fabric.

 The second study uses the Economic Freedom of the World index to investigate claims by some feminist scholars, to the effect that capitalism is harmful to women. By relating economic freedom to life satisfaction, the study finds that economic freedom is always positive for life satisfaction, and at least as much for women as for men. In conclusion, the results to not lend support to the claim that the market economy is harmful to important cultural values.

Comments followed from a distinguished panel with Johanna Möllerström, Professor of Economics at George Mason University, Ulrica Schenström, CEO of Fores, and Karin Svanborg-Sjövall, State Secretary in the Ministry of Culture.

See the seminar.