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Russell Roberts, professor of economics at George Mason University and J. Fish and Lillian F. Smith Distinguished Scholar at George Mason’s Mercatus Center, will present “The Goose that Lays the Golden Eggs,” an economics lecture for students, faculty, and the community 7:30 p.m. today in the auditorium of Kirby Hall of Civil Rights

A reception and signing of his latest book The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance (MIT Press, 2001) will follow the lecture, which is sponsored by the Department of Economics and Business, the William E. Simon Professorship in Political Economy, and the Department of History.

Roberts will examine the development of the American economy in the past 100 years, seeking to dispel some common misconceptions regarding the prosperity of the average American over the last century.

“The standard of living of the average American has increased by something between 5 and 30 times over the last 100 years,” he explains. “That transformation includes the trivial and the sublime, from flavored dental floss and video iPods to life-saving drugs and reductions in infant mortality. In many ways, a poor person today is better off than the richest person in 1900.”

Does this material well being lead to happiness? What is the source of our wealth? Is this incredible growth sustainable in the coming century? What do we need to do to protect the “goose that lays the golden eggs?” These are some of the questions Roberts will cover in his lecture. He reveals it will be lively and feature a “little show-and-tell.”

“Professor Roberts is one of the greatest communicators of economic concepts of our time,” says Mark Crain, William E. Simon Professor of Political Economy. “He has a remarkable talent for expressing complex economic theories in a manner that is widely accessible to non-economists. His novel applications of economics to everyday life, and his creative delivery accomplish what some would deem impossible: he makes economics fun and relevant.”

Ed Gamber, professor of economics and business, is using The Invisible Heart this term in his First-Year Seminar, The Invisible Hand.

Roberts is a frequent commentator on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.” In addition to numerous academic publications, he has written for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He is the features editor and a founding advisory board member of the Library of Economics and Liberty website. He is also a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Roberts was the founding director of the Center for Experiential Learning at the John M. Olin School of Business and a Senior Fellow at the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy at Washington University in St. Louis. He has also taught at the University of Rochester, Stanford University, and University of California, Los Angeles. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago.

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