Winners Take All: What are the Economic and Social Costs of Altruism?

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Winners Take All: What are the Economic and Social Costs of Altruism?

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Harper Center, Room 104 5807 S Woodlawn Ave Chicago, IL 60637

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As the lines between the public and private sectors blur and faith in the government wanes, it’s becoming more common for investors to advocate for social as well as financial returns and for wealthy business leaders to launch their own nonprofits to tackle poverty, inequality, or other social issues. But what if help from the global elite is doing more harm than good?

On May 2, join author and former New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas and Booth professor Marianne Bertrand as they discuss the themes of economic and social costs of altruism in Giridharadas’ new book, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, in which he argues that the global elite's efforts to "change the world" often serve to preserve the status quo and obscure their role in causing the problems they later seek to solve.

During lunch, Giridharadas and Bertrand will discuss the implications of the rich and powerful fighting for equality and justice and what that means for democracy. “We see how they rebrand themselves as saviors of the poor; how they lavishly reward ‘thought leaders’ who redefine ‘change’ in winner-friendly ways; and how they constantly seek to do more good but never less harm,” Giridharadas writes in Winners Take All.

This event is cohosted by Chicago Booth’s Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation, the Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State, and the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago. This event is part of UChicago Innovation Fest 2019. Learn more at

Lunch will be provided and available starting at 11:30 a.m. The program will begin promptly at 11:50 a.m.

Giridharadas' book will be available for purchase at the event, courtesy of the Seminary Co-op.

Anand Giridharadas is the author of The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas and India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation’s Remaking. He is an editor-at-large for TIME, an on-air political analyst for MSNBC, and a visiting scholar at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. He is a former columnist and correspondent for The New York Times, and he has also written for The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, he was raised there, in Paris, France, and in Maryland, and educated at the University of Michigan, Oxford, and Harvard. He worked briefly as a consultant for McKinsey & Company in Mumbai, before becoming a journalist in 2005.

Marianne Bertrand is the Chris P. Dialynas Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at at Chicago Booth, where she is also faculty director of Booth’s Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation and faculty director of the Poverty Lab at the University of Chicago Urban Labs. She is a Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Center for Economic Policy Research, and the Institute for the Study of Labor. Professor Bertrand is an applied micro-economist whose research covers the fields of labor economics, corporate finance, and development economics. Her work has been published widely, including numerous research articles in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Journal of Political Economy, the American Economic Review, and the Journal of Finance.

About the Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State
The Stigler Center is dedicated to understanding the interaction between politics and the economy. It promotes and disseminates research on regulatory capture, crony capitalism, and the various distortions that special interest groups impose on capitalism.

About the Institute of Politics (IOP)
Created by former White House Senior Advisor and Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod (AB ’76), the Institute of Politics formally opened in January 2013. The goal of the Institute is to enrich the political discourse and to help inspire a new generation of leaders by providing opportunities for students to engage with the leading public servants and political practitioners of our time. The Institute seeks to do this through three principal means: 1) Public lectures and panel discussions; 2) A program for visiting fellows; 3) Student internships; and 4) Civic engagement opportunities.

About UChicago's Innovation Fest 2019
This event is part of UChicago Innovation Fest (May 1-June 9, 2019), which celebrates pioneering discovery and entrepreneurial endeavors at the University of Chicago. Organized by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the month of events, workshops and accelerator programs highlights the breadth and impact of innovation at UChicago in the areas of entrepreneurship and research commercialization, scientific advancements, and global and social impact. Learn more at