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Publisher's Summary

Since Alexis de Tocqueville, restlessness has been accepted as a signature American trait. Our willingness to move, take risks, and adapt to change have produced a dynamic economy and a tradition of innovation from Ben Franklin to Steve Jobs.
The problem, according to legendary blogger, economist, and best-selling author Tyler Cowen, is that Americans today have broken from this tradition - we're working harder than ever to avoid change. We're moving residences less, marrying people more like ourselves, and choosing our music and our mates based on algorithms that wall us off from anything that might be too new or too different. matches us in love. Spotify and Pandora match us in music. Facebook matches us to just about everything else.
Of course, this "matching culture" brings tremendous positives: music we like, partners who make us happy, neighbors who want the same things. We're more comfortable. But, according to Cowen, there are significant collateral downsides attending this comfort, among them heightened inequality and segregation and decreased incentives to innovate and create.
The Complacent Class argues that this cannot go on forever. We are postponing change due to our nearsightedness and extreme desire for comfort, but ultimately this will make change, when it comes, harder. The forces unleashed by the Great Stagnation will eventually lead to a major fiscal and budgetary crisis: impossibly expensive rentals for our most attractive cities, worsening of residential segregation, and a decline in our work ethic. The only way to avoid this difficult future is for Americans to force themselves out of their comfortable slumber - to embrace their restless tradition again.
©2017 Tyler Cowen (P)2017 Gildan Media LLC
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Critic Reviews

"Tyler Cowen's blog, Marginal Revolution, is the first thing I read every morning. And his brilliant new book, The Complacent Class, has been on my nightstand after I devoured it in one sitting. I am at round-the-clock Cowen saturation right now." (Malcolm Gladwell)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By RJW on 05-06-17


This book is a MUST READ. For a new generation flooded with hardware and software, Cowen offers important insights into a general decline in risk-taking and creativity that has been reinforced by the literal codification of existence. More and more our devices are lulling us into (advertiser-funded) augmented realities that render us into a state of numbness easily appeased by consumer goods. Cowen effectively uses social and economic examples from history and from other nations to illustrate the profound existential challenges on the rise in our device-driven realities.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Sara Ferguson on 06-05-17

Great book. Very cerebral. Maybe better in print?

I struggled to finish sometimes due to the somewhat dry academic nature of the book. Being academic in style isn't necessarily bad, the topic was actually really well formed and argued. This is a book I definitely would have loved more in print though. I'll be buying Tyler's next book, but not in audiobook format.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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