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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 175 of Nathan Rosenberg’s 1993 paper “Does Science Shape Economic Progress – Or Is It the Other Way Around?,” which is chapter 24 in Deirdre McCloskey’s splendid 1993 collection, Second Thoughts (original emphasis):

Events in the economic sphere have played a major role in shaping the agenda, and the eventual findings, of pure science. In this sense, the lines of causation and influence run from economics to science as well as from science to economics. Indeed, some of the most fundamental scientific achievements of the nineteenth century need to be understood in precisely these terms.

DBx: This reality suggests yet another downside of industrial policy: By making economic survival and ‘success’ for privileged firms easier, subsidies and tariff protection might sometimes actually also slow the progress of pure science.

With government-engineered protection from competition, the coddled firms of course have less incentive to compete – less incentive to drive down operating costs, to improve product quality, and to search for new ways to please buyers. This dampening of the incentive to compete might well also dampen these firms’ incentives to search for ‘solutions’ to competitive challenges by engaging in practical research. In turn, insofar as (to quote Rosenberg) “the lines of causation and influence run from economics to science,” there might be a slowing of the progress of pure science.

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