Benjamin Powell

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This article is about the economist. For the Australian motorcycle speedway rider, see Ben Powell. For the African-American jazz trombonist, see Benny Powell. For the American comic book author and businessman, see Benny R. Powell.

Benjamin W. "Ben" Powell (born 1978) is the director of the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University and Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, a libertarian think tank in the United States.[1][2]


Early life[edit]

Benjamin Powell received a Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University.


He formerly held positions at Suffolk University, San Jose State University, the Mercatus Center, and the American Institute for Economic Research.[2] He now teaches at Texas Tech University.



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.[3] The working paper was later published as an article for the Journal of Labor Research.[4] 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.[5] Powell has since written journal articles on sweatshops for the Journal of Business Ethics[6] and Comparative Economic Studies[7] and has also written about sweatshops based on his research in other venues, such as EconLib,[8] Forbes,[9] Christian Science Monitor,[10] and Dallas Morning News.[11] He has also summarized his arguments in a 3-minute video for LearnLiberty.[12] Powell's forthcoming book Out of Poverty builds on his deacde of research on the subject.[13]

Powell has been interviewed about the subject by The Freeman, the magazine of the Foundation for Economic Education.[14] Powell's work on sweatshops has been reviewed by Elise Amyx at the Values & Capitalism blog,[15] John Miller at TripleCrisis,[16] and Kevin Carson at the Center for a Stateless Society.[17]

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,[18] that also served as a basis for a number of shorter pieces by him about Somalia and anarchy for more mainstream audiences.[19][20][21] Powell's work has been discussed and cited by Tom Woods,[22] Arnold Kling,[23] and Peter Leeson.[24]

Powell has also co-authored with Edward Stringham a paper on public choice theory and its implications for the economics of anarchy.[25]


Powell has edited two book volumes, published in 2007 and 2009 respectively, and is the author of a book scheduled for release in February 2014.[26]

Making Poor Nations Rich[edit]

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.[26][27][28][29] Deepak Lal wrote a foreword for the book. The book was reviewed by Yuri Maltsev in the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics.[30]

Housing America[edit]

Powell was the co-editor, along with Randall Halcombe, of the 2009 volume Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis published by Transaction Publishers on behalf of the Independent Institute.[26][31][32]

Out of Poverty[edit]

Powell's book Out of Poverty: Sweatshops in the Global Economy is scheduled for publication on February 28, 2014, from Cambridge University Press as part of its series of Cambridge Studies in Economics, Choice, and Society.[13][26][33] The Mercatus Center plans to hold an event dedicated to the book on March 4, 2014.[34] The book builds on Powell's decade or more of research on sweatshops and their economic effect.[3][7][8]


  1. ^ "Benjamin Powell, Ph.D". Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Benjamin W. Powell". Independent Institute. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Powell, Benjamin; Skarbek, David (September 27, 2004). "Sweatshops and Third World Living Standards: Are the Jobs Worth the Sweat?" (PDF). Independent Institute. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Powell, Benjamin (November 2006). "In Reply To Sweatshop Sophistries" (PDF). 28 (4). Human Rights Quarterly. Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  6. ^ Powell, Benjamin; Zwolinski, Matt (September 19, 2011). "The Ethical and Economic Case Against Sweatshop Labor: A Critical Assessment" (PDF). Journal of Business Ethics. doi:10.1007/s10551-011-1058-8. Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Powell, Benjamin. "Journal Articles". Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Powell, Benjamin (June 2, 2008). "In Defense of "Sweatshops"". EconLib. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  9. ^ Powell, Benjamin (May 2, 2013). "Sweatshops In Bangladesh Improve The Lives Of Their Workers, And Boost Growth". Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  10. ^ Powell, Benjamin; Skarbek, David (August 2, 2005). "Don't get into a lather over sweatshops". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  11. ^ Powell, Benjamin (May 17, 2013). "Benjamin Powell: In defense of sweatshops". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  12. ^ Powell, Benjamin. "The Unbelievable Truth about Sweatshops". LearnLiberty. Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  13. ^ a b Powell, Benjamin (February 28, 2014). Out of Poverty: Sweatshops in the Global Economy. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107688933. 
  14. ^ "Sweatshop Blues: An Interview with Benjamin Powell". The Freeman. January 22, 2014. Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  15. ^ Amyx, Elise (October 4, 2011). "Reconciling the Good and Evil of Sweatshops". Values & Capitalism. Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  16. ^ Miller, John (September 20, 2013). "How to Put a Stop to Sweatshop Abuse". TripleCrisis. Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  17. ^ 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. 
  18. ^ Powell, Benjamin; Ford, Ryan; Nowrasteh, Alex (May 16, 2008). "Somalia after state collapse: Chaos or improvement?" (PDF). Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. 67: 657–670. doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2008.04.008. Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  19. ^ Powell, Benjamin (December 22, 2006). "Somali "Anarchy" Is More Orderly than Somali Government". Independent Institute. Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  20. ^ Powell, Benjamin (April 1, 2009). "Somalia: Failed State, Economic Success?". The Freeman. Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  21. ^ Powell, Benjamin (January 23, 2013). "U.S. Recognition Doesn't Bode Well for Somalia". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  22. ^ Woods, Tom. "But...Somalia". Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  23. ^ Kling, Arnold (July 14, 2010). "The Somali Model". EconLog. Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  24. ^ Leeson, Peter (August 25, 2011). "For Chris Blattman (and anyone else who cares)". Cooordination Problem. Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  25. ^ Powell, Benjamin; Stringham, Edward (2009). "Public choice and the economics of anarchy: a survey" (PDF). 140. Public Choice: 503–538. Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  26. ^ a b c d Powell, Benjamin. "Books". Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  27. ^ Powell, Benjamin. Making Poor Nations Rich: Entrepreneurship and the Process of Economic Development. ISBN 9780804757324. 
  28. ^ Powell, Benjamin (2007). "Making Poor Nations Rich: Entrepreneurship and the Process of Economic Development". Stanford University Press. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  29. ^ Powell, Benjamin (November 12, 2007). "Making Poor Nations Rich: Entrepreneurship and the Process of Economic Development". Independent Institute. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  30. ^ Maltsev, Yuri (2008). "Book review: Benjamin Powell (ed): Making Poor Nations Rich: Entrepreneurship and the Process of Economic Development" (PDF). Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. 11: 154–158. doi:10.1007/s12113-008-9041-7. 
  31. ^ Powell, Benjamin. Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis. Transaction Publishers for the Independent Institute. ISBN 978-1-4128-1046-3. 
  32. ^ "Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis". Independent Institute. August 31, 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  33. ^ Powell, Bejamin (February 28, 2014). "Out of Poverty: Sweatshops in the Global Economy". Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  34. ^ "Benjamin Powell Book Panel: Out of Poverty: Sweatshops in the Global Economy". Mercatus Center. March 4, 2014. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 

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