Sam Bowles

Sam Bowles

Formal First Name
Samuel (Sam)
1939 - present

Samuel Bowles is Arthur Spiegel Research Professor and Director of the Behavioral Sciences Program at the Santa Fe Institute, and Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, where he continues to teach courses on microeconomics and the theory of institutions. His current research includes theoretical and empirical studies of political hierarchy and wealth inequality and their evolution over the very long run. Throughout his career, Sam has challenged economic theories that free markets and inequality maximize efficiency and argued that self-interested financial incentives can produce behavior that is inefficient and violates a society's morality. He has also argued that economies with less inequality, such as Asian countries, have outperformed economies with more inequality, such as Latin American countries. He has also advised the governments of Cuba, South Africa and Greece, to Robert F. Kennedy and Jesse Jackson, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, and to South African President Nelson Mandela.

Professional Experience

Academic History


  • Bowles was one of the founders of economics curriculum reform initiative CORE Project, which seeks to update the undergraduate curriculum to integrate topics such as altruism, inequality and environmental economics.

  • Bowles is the author of numerous scholarly articles and books, among which A Cooperative Species. Human Reciprocity and Its Evolution (2011) and Schooling in Capitalist America, first published in 1976.

  • His studies on cultural and genetic evolution have challenged the conventional economic assumption that people are motivated entirely by self-interest.


  • The Moral Economy:  Why good laws are no substitute for good citizens (2016)

  • The new economics of inequality and redistribution (2012)

  • A Cooperative Species: Human reciprocity and its evolution (2011)

  • Microeconomics: Behavior, Institutions and Evolution (2004)



  • His  scholarly papers  have appeared in Science, Nature, New Scientist, American Economic Review, Theoretical Population Biology, and Games and Economic Behavior.

  • He has also appeared in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, Journal of Political Economy,  Quarterly Journal of Economics, Behavioral and Brain Science, Philosophy and Public Affairs, and Journal of Public Economics.

  • He has also appeared in Theoretical Primatology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA),  Harvard Sciences (USA),  Review, Journal of Economic Literature, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Current Anthropology,  and the Economic Journal.