July 11, 2016 Print

The world is filled with problems, but few people recognize how markets have dramatically improved quality of life throughout the world in recent decades. Advocates of free markets are often drowned out by mistaken cries for protectionism, so the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) established its Think Conference last year to provide a forum “for the best and brightest students in the UK to come together and look at ways to solve the world’s economic problems.” Ten universities participated in this year’s conference as sponsors and exhibitors.

On July 2, IEA’s second annual Think Conference hosted some of the world’s most renowned economists to speak about how free markets have fostered innovation and consequently reduced poverty. This year’s conference featured 17 speakers, including IEA Head of Education Stephen Davies; famed economists David D. Friedman, Tyler Cowen, and Bryan Caplan; international development expert Pauline Dixon; Manhattan Institute for Policy Research Fellow Jared Meyer; science writer Timandra Harkness, and many more. They lectured before the 450 attendees on “The Economics of International Aid,” “The Economics of Happiness,” “The Economics of the Sharing Economy,” and the “Economics of Immigration,” among an array of other topics.

“The IEA is delighted to have presented the second Think Conference, in which a range of top economists, academics, and communicators examined and tried to explain the forces that are transforming our world and their effects, for good and ill,” Davies said. “We hope that attendees were made aware of the amazing opportunities and challenges that these represent, come to a better understanding of the way the world is changing, and realize how economics not only gives a better understanding of these matters but also helps us to realize what we need to do to make the lives of ordinary people everywhere better and fuller.”

Davies opened the conference with a presentation titled “The Free Market in Action and The Morality of Economics,” and chaired a pair of panels on “How Life As We Know It Is Changing” and “Behavioral Economics.”

The Manhattan Institute’s Meyer spoke about the emergence and ongoing development of the sharing economy.

“’Think’ provided a rare opportunity for economics students from across the political spectrum to encounter free-market ideas,” Meyer said. “Through its TED talk–style lineup of engaging speakers and timely topics, the conference challenged much of the economic ‘orthodoxy’ taught in schools. ‘Think’ undoubtedly raised important questions that the students told me they are interested in pursuing during their future studies.”

Several other Atlas Network partner organizations participated in the event. Sponsors and exhibitors of the Think Conference include the Adam Smith Institute, European Students for Liberty, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and the TaxPayers’ Alliance.