The Ethical Economics
Study Center

Welcome to the Ethical Economics Study Center

Ethical behavior is critical for the smooth efficient functioning of an economic system. Unfortunately for almost a century, the ethical content of economics has been mostly hidden from view in economics textbooks. As a result many believe, incorrectly, that markets allow for the unfettered pursuit of self-interest, even if that requires deception, fraud, theft, or a flagrant disregard for the negative effects on others. In fact, although these behaviors will promote individual self-interest, they are not consistent with well-functioning markets.

This site will provide resources that explain how and why ethics is important to the economic system. These are important lessons, especially today, as many business leaders and politicians seem convinced that success is based solely on how much profit is made or how fast GDP grows regardless of how it comes about. In addition, ever since the world financial crisis of 2008, an increasing number of people have become critical of modern capitalism and believe that it is responsible for many of our current problems.

I believe many of these opinions are wrong. We must recognize that pursuit of profit is good, but only when it is subject to ethical constaints. Also, modern capitalism clearly has many problems, but many of those arise precisely because ethical standards are not adhered to, or enforced. Free market capitalism remains the best system known to humankind to promote a just, fair, and flourishing society. Take time to explore the content on these pages to see what I mean.


This site was created and is maintained by Steve Suranovic, an Associate Professor of Economics and International Affairs at The George Washington University in Washington, DC.