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The Myth of Meritocracy and the Role of Luck in Successful Lives

How important is luck in economic success? As conservatives observe, people who amass great fortunes are almost always talented and hardworking. Liberals also note that countless others have those same qualities yet never earn much. In recent years, social scientists have discovered that chance plays a much larger role in important life outcomes than most people imagine.

In Success and Luck, bestselling author andNew York Times economics columnist Robert H. Frank explores the surprising implications of those findings to show why the rich underestimate the importance of luck in success—and why that hurts everyone, even the wealthy.

Please  join New America’s Political Reform program, ideas42, and New York Magazine’s Annie Lowrey, for a happy hour conversation about how, in a world increasingly dominated by winner-take-all markets, chance opportunities and trivial initial advantages often translate into much larger ones—and enormous income differences—over time. Lowrey and Frank will talk about how false beliefs about luck persist, despite compelling evidence against them; and how myths about personal success and luck shape individual and political choices in harmful ways.

Follow the conversation online using #SuccessAndLuck and by following @PolReformNA


Robert H. Frank
Author, Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy
Professor of Management and Professor of Economics, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University

Annie Lowrey 
Writer, New York Magazine