New York, NY (April 13, 2021)—The Manhattan Institute (MI) is pleased to announce that Thomas Sowell has won the 17th annual Hayek Book Prize for his book Charter Schools and Their Enemies (Basic Books). MI will celebrate the Hayek Book Prize with a tribute to Professor Sowell at an event in Florida later this month.
Sowell’s book was among four other finalists announced in February:
- Open: The Story of Human Progress by Johan Norberg (Atlantic Books, November 15, 2020)
- The Conservative Sensibility by George Will (Hachette Books, June 4, 2019)
- Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography by Charles Moore (Allen Lane, published in three volumes between 2015 and 2019)
- Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas that Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries by Safi Bahcall (St. Martin’s Press, March 19, 2019)
"The Hayek Prize is especially meaningful to me because of the influence Friedrich Hayek's writings had on my own work," Sowell said. "His unique conception of knowledge and its distribution provided a key insight into why the central planning of an economy by experts failed so often, when free market competition among millions of people who were not experts succeeded so much better."
Sowell continued: "This also has implications in the field of education. Opponents of parental choice of schools for their children say that parents in low-income minority communities do not have enough education themselves to make such choices. But as the data in Charter Schools and Their Enemies demonstrate, the educational achievements of children in charter schools chosen by their parents in low-income minority communities dramatically exceed the achievement of children in the same communities attending schools chosen by 'experts.'"
"Long before any of us had heard of Thomas Sowell, Friedrich Hayek singled out Sowell, then a little-known and young economist, as one of the promising minds of the era to come. In Hayek's lifetime and after, Sowell delivered on his own promise, producing a string of works we all rely on today. The Hayek Prize jury therefore found it especially fitting to honor Sowell's achievement," said Amity Shlaes, Jury Chair.
“We are honored to award this year’s Hayek Book Prize to Thomas Sowell,” said Manhattan Institute President Reihan Salam. “Dr. Sowell has dedicated his career to detailing the many ways freedom, competition, and constitutionalism have contributed to human flourishing, and his book on the rise of the charter school movement perfectly captures the power and clarity of his thinking. Educational choice has long been at the heart of MI's work, and it is even more gratifying that he should win this prize as a growing number of Americans confront the failures of traditional district schools."
This year’s Hayek awards event will be held in Palm Beach, FL to honor both our 2021 and 2020 winners. As a reminder, last year’s winner was Austerity: When It Works and When It Doesn’t in which the late Alberto Alesina, along with Carlo Favero and Francesco Giavazzi, reviewed thousands of fiscal measures adopted by sixteen advanced economies since the late 1970s and concluded that budget cuts, rather than tax increases, set the stage for recovery of countries in economic crisis. Each year a $50,000 prize is awarded to the Hayek Book Prize winner.
About the Hayek Lecture and Book Prize
Political philosopher and Nobel laureate F. A. Hayek, author of groundbreaking works such as The Road to Serfdom and The Constitution of Liberty, was the key figure in the twentieth century revival of classical liberalism. He was also a formative influence on the Manhattan Institute. When our founder, Sir Antony Fisher, asked how best to reverse the erosion of freedom, Hayek advised him not to begin with politics per se but to fight first on the battlefield of ideas. The Hayek Lecture and Prize affirm and celebrate this mission.