A free and bustling market is a powerful force for progress. Buyers have choices and sellers succeed only by satisfying the needs or desires of customers. With each voluntary transaction, both parties gain value—overall wealth actually increases as goods are exchanged. Free markets also produce prices that allow people to make wise cost-benefit decisions. And free markets don’t just make societies and individuals richer, they also protect individual rights.

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Economic Freedom and Growth

Economics professor Josh Hall describes how greater economic freedom leads to higher incomes and more economic development over time. When governments allow citizens the freedom to trade, own property, create businesses, and contract with others, the income of average citizens grows over time. This effect can be observed internationally when comparing countries, as well as domestically when comparing states in the US.

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Does Economic Freedom Matter?

America’s founders knew that liberty is about more than just securing political freedoms. True liberty requires economic freedom—the ability to profit from our own ideas and labor, to work, produce, consume, own, trade, and invest according to our own choices. Thomas Jefferson underscored that point when he observed that “a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement.”

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The Economic Way of Thinking

Economics is about human action: how individuals react to situations and how the actions of different individuals are coordinated in society. While some believe economics is only about money or stock markets, the discipline provides deeper insights. This learning path explains 13 fundamental principles in economic thinking and how to apply those insights to understand human behavior, markets, and public policy. You will also learn how markets and prices coordinate human action toward beneficial outcomes.

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Trade is Made of Win: Wealth Creation

How does trading make people better off? Economics professor Art Carden explains in this quick lesson on one of the most important concepts in Economics 101: trade creates wealth.

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Trade Is Made of Win: Cooperation

Prof. Art Carden examines how trade creates wealth, by allowing people working together to produce more than they could individually. Using a simple two-person example, he shows another example of how cooperation during production benefits everyone.

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Trade Is Made of Win: Conservation

Prof. Art Carden explains how trade not only creates wealth, but conserves both wealth and resources. When people have access to trade, they can produce the things they make efficiently, and then trade for the things they can’t produce as efficiently. This means they are able to meet their needs while consuming fewer resources.

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The Economic Principles of America’s Founders: Property Rights, Free Markets, and Sound Money

In light of the stark differences between the economies of the present day and the late 18th century in which the Founders lived, can we learn anything about economics by studying the principles and approach of our Founders? Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is “yes.” If we look to the actions they took and the rationale they offered for their actions, we will see that the Founders’ approach still offers us a guide to pressing economic questions of our day.

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