November 21, 2013

Milton and Rose Friedman’s 'Free to Choose' and its Impact in the Global Movement Toward Free Market Policy: 1979-2003

  • Peter J. Boettke

    Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
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Read the full paper at SSRN.com

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson defeated Barry Goldwater for the presidency of the United States by the overwhelming margin of 61 percent of the popular vote to 38 percent, and in terms of states won, the figure was forty-four to six. Barry Goldwater ran a campaign calling for less government and freer markets, and the population said no to him and yes to Lyndon Johnson’s big government programs of the 1960s, for example, the War on Poverty. However, in the 1980 election, Ronald Reagan was able to defeat the incumbent president, Jimmy Carter, with 51 percent of the popular vote to 41 percent, and in terms of states, forty-four states to six states, running on essentially a similar platform to Goldwater’s. This paper examines this change and the impact of Milton and Rose Friedman’s 'Free to Choose' on the global movement toward free market policies between 1979 and 2003.