Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Twentieth Century

Book Talk
May 5, 2023, 12:15 pm1:30 pm
Open to the public


Event Description

This event is now closed for in-person registration. The livestream begins on May 5th at 12:15 PM (ET).


Before 1870, humanity lived in dire poverty, with a slow crawl of invention offset by a growing population. Then came a great shift: invention sprinted forward, doubling our technological capabilities each generation and utterly transforming the economy again and again. Our ancestors would have presumed we would have used such powers to build utopia. But it was not so. When 1870–2010 ended, the world instead saw global warming; economic depression, uncertainty, and inequality; and broad rejection of the status quo. Economist Brad DeLong’s Slouching Towards Utopia tells the story of how this unprecedented explosion of material wealth occurred, how it transformed the globe, and why it failed to deliver us to utopia. Of remarkable breadth and ambition, it reveals the last century to have been less a march of progress than a slouch in the right direction.

J. Bradford DeLong is a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a weblogger at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, and a fellow of the Institute for New Economic Thinking. He joined UC Berkeley as an associate professor in 1993 and became a full professor in 1997. DeLong also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy from 1993 to 1995. He worked on the Clinton Administration’s 1993 budget, on the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, on the North American Free Trade Agreement, on macroeconomic policy, and on the unsuccessful health care reform effort. Before joining the Treasury Department, DeLong was Danziger Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at Harvard University. He has also been a John M. Olin Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, an assistant professor of economics at Boston University, and a lecturer in the Department of Economics at M.I.T. DeLong is the author of Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Twentieth Century (2022) and co-author, with Martha Olney, of the textbook Macroeconomics (2002). He also co-edited After Piketty: The Agenda for Economics and Inequality (2017) with Heather Boushey and Marshall Steinbaum; and co-authored Concrete Economics: The Hamilton Approach to Economic Growth and Policy (2016) with Stephen Cohen. DeLong received his BA and PhD in economics from Harvard University.

  • Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy & Finance
  • Griswold Center for Economic Policy Studies