By Johan J. Graafland

Book Cover: The Market, Happiness, and Solidarity; A Christian Perspective (2010)
Editions:Paperback: £ 38.00
ISBN: 9781138805439
Pages: 208
Hardcover: £ 115.00
ISBN: 9780415561273
Pages: 208
ePub: £ 36.00
ISBN: 9780203855539

"The past two decades of market operation has generated welfare and economic growth in Western countries, but increasing income inequalities, depletion of the natural environment and the current financial crisis have led to an intense debate about the advantages and disadvantages of the free market. With The Market, Happiness and Solidarity professor Graafland makes a valuable contribution to the Christian debate about the market economy. In particular, it aims to clarify the links between ethical values, Christian belief and economics, as well as informing theologians and economists about recent economic insights into market operation.

The book investigates the effect of free market operation on welfare and well-being, calling into question why one would favor more market competition as a means of increasing happiness. As well as this, Professor Graafland examines how free market competition relates to principles of justice and looks at whether it enforces or crowds out Christian virtues like love, humility and temperance.

Books that systematically link biblical teaching about the economy to recent theoretical and empirical research in economics on free market operation are rare. Most Christian books on the market system are theologically oriented, lacking a sound basis in the extensive knowledge of the recent economic literature on market operation. This book confronts Christian ethical standards with current economic literature on the effects of market operation on welfare, happiness, human rights, inequality and virtues in order to develop a well-based and balanced view of the pros and cons of market operation. This book will be of interest to both undergraduate and postgraduate students of economics, philosophy and theology."

Reviews:Joost Hengstmengel on Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics wrote:

"Whether or not the market can be seen as a blessing from a Christian perspective depends on a lot of factors and Graafland discusses them carefully. For him, the question is not so much whether Christians should accept the market system, but rather how its harmful consequences can be diminished. The distinctive strength of the book is its emphasis on a great variety of (recent) economic research into the market, both theoretical and empirical. As noted, it does not begin from a theological point of view as is often the case in Christian economic literature, but combines and does justice to economics, ethics, and theology. A disadvantage of this multidisciplinary approach is that the book often arrives at rather nuanced if not too nuanced conclusions. [...] the book successfully shows that all three ethical perspectives - welfare or happiness, justice, and virtues - legitimate the market and its plea against too much government regulation, but also suggest a need for limitations and a strong state to correct the market."

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The Market and welfare
  3. The market and justice
  4. The market and virtues
  5. Integration and application


About Johan Graafland

Johan Graafland is Professor of 'Economics, Business and Ethics’ and director of the Center for Corporate Social Responsibility at the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of Tilburg University, the Netherlands. He is also co-leader of the research project What Good Markets are Good for, which established the Moral Markets website.