Benjamin Powell

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Benjamin W. "Ben" Powell (born 1978) is the director of the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University and Professor of Economics at Texas Tech University's Rawls College of Business. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute and the North American Editor of the Review of Austrian Economics.[1]


Benjamin Powell earned his B.S. in Economics and Finance from the University of Massachusetts Lowell and his M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University. He is a Professor of Business Economics at Texas Tech University's Rawls College of Business[2] and the director of the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University.[3] Previously, he was an Associate Professor of Economics at Suffolk University and an Assistant Professor of Economics at San Jose State University. He has performed numerous other professional roles in the past including Director of the Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation at the Independent Institute.[4], President of Association of Private Enterprise Education[5], North American Editor of the Review of Austrian Economics[6], Senior Economist at the Beacon Hill Institute, Editorial Board Member at the Journal of Private Enterprise[7], and host and co-executive producer of KTTZ Channel 5 Lubbock's—a PBS affiliate—Free to Exchange.[8]



Powell's academic interest in sweatshops dates back to at least 2004, when he wrote a working paper along with David Skarbek for the Independent Institute looking at how sweatshop jobs compared with the other jobs available to people who took them. The working paper was later published as an article for the Journal of Labor Research.[9] Powell also wrote an article for Human Rights Quarterly, responding to the argument by Arnold and Hartman (2006) that activists should encourage sweatshop employers to voluntarily work toward improving the conditions of sweatshop workers.[10] Powell has since written journal articles on sweatshops for the Journal of Business Ethics[11] and Comparative Economic Studies[12] and has also written about sweatshops based on his research in other venues, such as Forbes,[13] Christian Science Monitor,[14] and Dallas Morning News.[15] He has also summarized his arguments in a 3-minute video for LearnLiberty.[16]

Powell has been interviewed about the subject by The Freeman, the magazine of the Foundation for Economic Education.[17] Powell's work on sweatshops has also been reviewed online.[18][19]

Economic and political systems[edit]

Powell has studied the economics of anarchy. He wrote a journal article along with Ryan Ford and Alex Nowrasteh comparing Somalia before and after it transitioned to anarchy.[20]

Powell has also co-authored with Edward Stringham a paper on public choice theory and its implications for the economics of anarchy.[21]


Powell was the editor of the 2007 volume Making Poor Nations Rich: Entrepreneurship and the Process of Economic Development published by the Independent Institute in collaboration with Stanford University Press as part of the Stanford Economics and Finance series.[22] He also edited The Economics of Immigration: Market-based Approaches, Social Science, and Public Policy (Oxford University Press, 2015).

He is the author of Out of Poverty: Sweatshops in the Global Economy (Cambridge University Press, 2014).[23]

With Robert Lawson, he is the co-author of Socialism Sucks: Two Economists Drink Their Way Through the Unfree World (Regnery Press, 2019).


  1. ^ "curriculum-vitae" (PDF). Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  2. ^ "Benjamin Powell | Energy Commerce and Business Economics | Faculty | Our People | RCOBA Home | TTU".
  3. ^ "Free Market Institute - Our People | Free Market Institute | TTU".
  4. ^ "Economist Benjamin Powell Joins Independent Institute to Head Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation". The Independent Institute.
  5. ^ "Free Market Institute - Our People - Benjamin Powell, Ph.D. | Free Market Institute | TTU".
  6. ^ "The Review of Austrian Economics – incl. option to publish open access".
  7. ^ "Main Page". Journal of Private Enterprise.
  8. ^ "Free to Exchange". KTTZ - TV.
  9. ^ Powell, Benjamin; Skarbek, David (Spring 2006). "Sweatshops and Third World Living Standards: Are the Jobs Worth the Sweat?" (PDF). Journal of Labor Research. 27 (2). Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  10. ^ Powell, Benjamin (November 2006). "In Reply To Sweatshop Sophistries" (PDF). 28 (4). Human Rights Quarterly. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  11. ^ Powell, Benjamin; Zwolinski, Matt (September 19, 2011). "The Ethical and Economic Case Against Sweatshop Labor: A Critical Assessment" (PDF). Journal of Business Ethics. 107 (4): 449–472. doi:10.1007/s10551-011-1058-8. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  12. ^ Powell, Benjamin. "Journal Articles". Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  13. ^ Powell, Benjamin (May 2, 2013). "Sweatshops In Bangladesh Improve The Lives Of Their Workers, And Boost Growth". Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  14. ^ Powell, Benjamin; Skarbek, David (August 2, 2005). "Don't get into a lather over sweatshops". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  15. ^ Powell, Benjamin (May 17, 2013). "Benjamin Powell: In defense of sweatshops". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  16. ^ Powell, Benjamin. "The Unbelievable Truth about Sweatshops". LearnLiberty. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  17. ^ "Sweatshop Blues: An Interview with Benjamin Powell". The Freeman. January 22, 2014. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  18. ^ Miller, John (September 20, 2013). "How to Put a Stop to Sweatshop Abuse". TripleCrisis. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  19. ^ Carson, Kevin (May 20, 2013). "Sweatshops the "Best Available Alternative"? But Who Decides What Alternatives are Available?". Center for a Stateless Society. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  20. ^ Powell, Benjamin; Ford, Ryan; Nowrasteh, Alex (May 16, 2008). "Somalia after state collapse: Chaos or improvement?" (PDF). Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. 67 (3–4): 657–670. CiteSeerX doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2008.04.008. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  21. ^ Powell, Benjamin; Stringham, Edward (2009). "Public choice and the economics of anarchy: a survey" (PDF). 140. Public Choice: 503–538. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  22. ^ Reviews of Making Poor Nations Rich:
    • Carden, Art (May 2008), The Review of Austrian Economics, 21 (4): 355–359, doi:10.1007/s11138-008-0052-6CS1 maint: Untitled periodical (link)
    • Maltsev, Yuri (June 2008), The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, 11 (2): 154–158, doi:10.1007/s12113-008-9041-7CS1 maint: Untitled periodical (link)
    • Vorley, Tim (May 2010), Journal of International Development, 22 (4): 538–539, doi:10.1002/jid.1532CS1 maint: Untitled periodical (link)
  23. ^ Reviews of Out of Poverty:

External links[edit]