Educational Insights of the Economist: Tibor Scitovsky on Education, Production and Creative Consumption

Tal Gilead*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In recent decades education is increasingly perceived as an instrument for generating economic growth and enhancing production. Unexpectedly, however, many prominent economists, throughout history, have rejected this view of education. This article examines the grounds on which Tibor Scitovsky, who was one of the leading economists of twentieth century America, objected to the spread of production oriented education. The article begins by an historical overview of the relationship between economic and educational theory. It then explains why Scitovsky held the economic growth achieved in the 20th necessitates an educational reform and presents the outline of this proposed educational reform. It is argued that by distinguishing between creative and defensive forms of consumption and by highlighting the inherent tension between comfort and pleasure, Scitovsky offers an innovative and challenging conception of the desired relationship between economics and education that can serve as an alternative to the one that prevails today and amend its many fallacies. The paper concludes by briefly exploring some of the educational implications that stem from Scitovsky's thought. It is maintained that Scitovsky's views provides an original defense for teaching the arts and humanities and a suggestive perspective on consumer education and teaching of high culture.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)623-639
Number of pages17
JournalStudies in Philosophy and Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments I would like to thank Doron Yashphe for commenting on an early version of this paper. I would also like to thank the anonymous referees of this article for their useful suggestions. Finally, I would like to thank for the Israel Science Foundation for its support of this research (grant no. 665/11).


  • Adam Smith
  • Consumerism
  • Economics
  • Human capital
  • Philosophy of education
  • Scitovsky
  • Theory


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