In 100 Years: Leading Economists Predict the Future

In This Review

In 100 Years: Leading Economists Predict the Future
Edited by Ignacio Palacios-Huerta
The MIT Press, 2014
216 pp. $24.95

In 1930, John Maynard Keynes gave a famous lecture in which he took an uncharacteristic stab at forecasting the distant future, 100 years away. He predicted that by 2030, “progressive countries,” such as the United Kingdom and the United States, would have standards of living four to eight times as high as they did then. Palacios-Huerta saw fit to repeat this thought experiment and invited ten prominent economists to participate, each one independently imagining economic life circa 2114. The results make for stimulating reading. Some common predictions emerge: technology will continue to improve, poverty and population growth will both diminish, most relatively poor countries will continue to catch up with the rich world, the risks from climate change will grow more severe, and unforeseen epidemics may spread. Many of the contributors emphasize the vital role of good governance in producing positive economic outcomes -- an unsurprising but important point given the serious decision-making problems that currently plague Washington and European capitals. Some contributors also stress the crucial role that political rights and individual freedoms play in spurring innovation and contend that as such rights continue to expand around the world -- at an uneven pace and with some reversals, to be sure -- innovation is likely to accelerate.

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