Arthur C. Brooks

Arthur C. Brooks

Arthur C. Brooks (born May 21, 1964, in Spokane, Wash.) is an American social scientist and musician. A named professor at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and Whitman School of Management who will become president of the American Enterprise Institute in 2009, Brooks is best known for his work on the junctions between culture, economics, and politics. Two of his popular volumes, "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism" and "Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters for America--and How We Can Get More of It", explore these themes in greater depth.

Early life and musical career

Brooks was raised in Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood. His parents were professors, and his upbringing has been described as "liberal."Ben Gose, " [ Charity's Political Divide] ," Chronicle of Philanthropy, November 23, 2006.] Frank Brieaddy, " [ Philanthropy Expert: Conservatives Are More Generous] ," Beliefnet, November 2006.]

After high school, Brooks pursued a career as a professional French hornist, serving from 1983 to 1989 with the Annapolis Brass Quintet in Baltimore, from 1989 to 1992 as the associate principal French hornist with the City Orchestra of Barcelona in Spain, and teaching from 1992 to 1995 at Lynn University's Harid Conservatory of Music.American Enterprise Institute, [ Arthur Brooks curriculum vitae] .]


Toward the end of his professional music career, Brooks began higher education with a bachelor's degree in economics from Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey, a public university that offers distance and nontraditional education programs to working adults. He received a master's degree from Florida Atlantic University before pursuing a doctorate at the Frederick S. Pardee RAND Graduate School, a public policy program located at the RAND Corporation, where he was also a doctoral fellow.American Enterprise Institute, [ Arthur Brooks curriculum vitae] .]

After receiving his PhD in policy analysis in 1998, Brooks continued to be affiliated with RAND, for which he produced a number of studies (see bibliography below; his articles appeared in dozens of academic journals as well), mostly of arts funding and orchestra operations. But he began to dive into the junction of culture, politics, and economics that would come to be his trademark. "He kept his head down during the early years of his academic career, publishing the usual economics fare on philanthropy—such as how tax rates and government spending affect giving," writes Ben Gose. Brooks himself said, "I made my academic career doing that stuff, but the whole time I knew I was missing something."Ben Gose, " [ Charity's Political Divide] ," Chronicle of Philanthropy, November 23, 2006.]

After a stint at Georgia State University, Brooks landed at Syracuse University in 2001. In 2005, he became a full professor, and he has held the Louis A. Bantle Chair in Business and Government Policy since 2007. At Syracuse, Brooks has held joint appointments in the public affairs and management schools.

Rise to prominence

In the early 2000s, Brooks began to look deeper into behavioral economics, often using the General Social Survey. It is this work that launched him into the spotlight. During his time at Syracuse, Brooks has continued his academic work on philanthropy and nonprofits, authoring several articles and textbooks.

"Who Really Cares"

Brooks's first foray into the limelight was in 2006 with "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism".Arthur C. Brooks, "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism" (New York: Basic Books, 2006).] Originating in his research on philanthropy and drawing on survey data, he articulates a charity gap between the 75 percent of Americans who donate to charitable causes and the rest who do not. Brooks argues that there are three cultural values that best predict charitable giving: religious participation, political views, and family structure. Ninety-one percent of people who identify themselves as religious are likely to give to charity, writes Brooks, as opposed to 66 percent of people who do not. The religious giving sector is just as likely to give to secular programs as it is to religious causes. Those who think government should do more to redistribute income are less likely to give to charitable causes, and those who believe the government has less of a role to play in income redistribution tend to give more. Finally, people who couple and raise children are more likely to give philanthropically than those who do not. The more children there are in a family, the more likely that a family will donate to charity. One of Brooks's most controversial findings was that political conservatives give more, despite having incomes that are on average 6 percent lower than liberals.

Brooks adopts what he calls a "polemic"Ben Gose, " [ Charity's Political Divide] ," Chronicle of Philanthropy, November 23, 2006.] tone when offering recommendations, urging that philanthropic giving not be crowded out by government programs and that giving must be taught cultivated in families and communities. He admits being surprised by his conclusion: "These are not the sort of conclusions I ever thought I would reach when I started looking at charitable giving in graduate school, 10 years ago. I have to admit I probably would have hated what I have to say in this book."Arthur C. Brooks, "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism" (New York: Basic Books, 2006).]

"Who Really Cares" was widely reviewed and critiqued. Many commentators thought that Brooks played up the role of religion too much, arguing that a charity gap is largely erased when religious giving is not considered. Eugene Volokh writes, "Although the liberal v. conservative split is the hook for the book, the data are not nearly as stark as the hype surrounding the book might indicate."Eugene Volokh, " [ Concerns about Arthur Brooks's Who Really Cares] ," The Volokh Conspiracy, November 20, 2006.] Others have commented that Brooks goes beyond his data.Steve Reuland, " [ Who Really Cares about Arthur Brooks?] " Sunbeams from Cucumbers, November 26, 2008.] According to Beliefnet, "Brooks says he started the book as an academic treatise, then tightened the documentation and punched up the prose when his colleagues and editor convinced him it would sell better and generate more discussion if he did. To make his point forcefully, Brooks admits he cut out a lot of qualifying information."Frank Brieaddy, " [ Philanthropy Expert: Conservatives Are More Generous] ," Beliefnet, November 2006.]

In February 2007, after the release of "Who Really Cares", Brooks briefed President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush on his findings.Syracuse University, [ Arthur Brooks bio] .] Later that year, Brooks joined the American Enterprise Institute as a visiting scholar.

"Gross National Happiness"

In April 2008, Brooks published a survey and analysis of U.S. happiness research entitled "Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters for America—and How We Can Get More of It".Arthur C. Brooks, "Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters for America—and How We Can Get More of It" (New York: Basic Books, 2008).] Drawing his title from the Bhutanese measurement of national well-being, Brooks argues that the United States is one of the world's only other countries to enshrine happiness in its credo. Yet, he argues, happiness tends to get discounted in public policy in favor of other priorities. Brooks reviews survey data to understand the contours of how happy individual Americans are and how individual happiness translates into nationwide satisfaction.

Brooks's findings were controversial. Conservatives, he writes, are twice as likely to call themselves "very happy" than liberals. Those with extreme political beliefs, right or left, tend to be happier than moderates--although their provocations lower happiness for the rest of society. Devout people of all religions are much happier than secularists. Parents are happier than the childless, even though their children often upset them. But child-rearing, Brooks writes, offers "meaning" to life, a sort of deep happiness that Aristotle called eudaimonia. Balancing freedom and order also brings optimal happiness, Brooks writes, because "too many moral choices leave us insecure and searching, unable to distinguish right from wrong, and thus miserable."

The second section of the book is dedicated to the economic dimensions of happiness. Opportunity breeds happiness, Brooks writes, and "efforts to diminish economic inequality--without creating economic opportunity--will actually lower America's gross national happiness, not raise it." Opportunity allows for good jobs, and "job satisfaction actually increases life happiness." Brooks argues that work makes people happy because they are creating value, a theme he explored in a textbook also released in 2008 on "social value creation."Arthur C. Brooks, "Social Entrepreneurship: A Modern Approach to Social Value Creation" (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 2008).]

To the extent that happiness can be "bought," it is with charity: giving--of effort, time, and money--makes people much happier, says Brooks, and it correlates with many other characteristics of the happy. Brooks, identifying himself as a libertarian, writes that the government does a poor job of making us happy but that "the government can help us pursue happiness."

"Gross National Happiness" was widely reviewed and featured in many news outlets, especially on talk radio. In addition to his media for "Gross National Happiness", Brooks has blogged for the New York Times's Freakonomics blog and written dozens of op-eds for the "Wall Street Journal" and several other major papers. "The Economist" devoted an entire "Lexington" column to Brooks's findings in Gross National Happiness, referring to it as "a subtle and engaging distillation of oceans of data.""The Joys of Parenthood," "The Economist", March 27, 2008.] Richard Land wrote that he "found Arthur Brooks’ slaying of pop culture myths to be stimulating and informative."Richard Land, " [ A Few of My Favorite Books] ," On Faith, June 30, 2008.]

Will Wilkinson criticizes "Gross National Happiness" for downplaying European statistics on happiness. Brooks argues that happiness is highly correlated with religiosity, but Wilkinson points out that some of the world's happiest places--such as some Scandinavian countries--have very low religious participation rates. "Brooks just doesn't bring it up," writes Wilkinson. "He seemed to me to encourage the idea that the relationship between religiosity and happiness is deep, perhaps universal. But it just isn't." He continues: "It would be a simple error to infer that 'gross national happiness' would be damaged were the culture to become less conservative or religious."Will Wilkinson, " [ Arthur Brooks on Religion and Happiness] ," The Fly Bottle, May 17, 2008.] Other critics have pointed out dueling survey data on job satisfaction, arguing that Brooks overstates the proportion of workers who are happy with their jobs.Conference Board, " [ U.S Job Satisfaction Declines, The Conference Board Reports] ," news release, February 23, 2007.]

Presidency of AEI

On July 14, 2008, AEI president Christopher DeMuth announced that Brooks would succeed him as the institute's eleventh president on January 1, 2009. "I am thrilled and honored to be asked to serve as the president of AEI," Brooks said. "With research ranging between prophetic ideas and technical policy details, AEI has always acted as a steward of American ideals of private liberty, individual opportunity, and free enterprise. Time and again, AEI's mix of great people and strong values has produced the right ideas at the right time for America and the world. To serve as the Institute's president in the coming era is a truly wonderful and humbling opportunity, and I am fully committed to building on the Institute's amazing record of success."American Enterprise Institute, " [ Arthur Brooks Selected to Be President of AEI] ," news release, July 14, 2008.]


Brooks is married to Ester Brooks, and they have three children. They live in Washington DC. He is a Roman Catholic, and although he has in the past been a registered Democrat and Republican, he states that he is now an independent.Frank Brieaddy, " [ Philanthropy Expert: Conservatives Are More Generous] ," Beliefnet, November 2006.]


*Arthur C. Brooks. "The Virtue of Vice: Why Bad Things Are Good for Us". New York: Basic Books, forthcoming 2009.
*Arthur C. Brooks. "Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters for America—and How We Can Get More of It". New York: Basic Books, 2008. (ISBN 978-0-4650-0278-8)
*Arthur C. Brooks. "Social Entrepreneurship: A Modern Approach to Social Value Creation". Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 2008. (ISBN 978-0132330763)
*Arthur C. Brooks. "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism". New York: Basic Books, 2006. (ISBN 978-0465008216)
*Arthur C. Brooks, ed. "Gifts of Time and Money: The Role of Charity in America's Communities". Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005. (ISBN 0742545059)
*Kevin F. McCarthy, Elizabeth H. Ondaatje, Arthur C. Brooks, and Andras Szanto. "A Portrait of the Visual Arts: Meeting the Challenges of a New Era". Santa Monica, Calf.: RAND Corporation, 2005. (ISBN 0833037935)
*Kevin F. McCarthy, Elizabeth H. Ondaatje, Laura Zakaras, and Arthur C. Brooks. "Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate about the Benefits of the Arts". Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation, 2004. (ISBN 0-8330-3694-7)
*Kevin F. McCarthy, Arthur C. Brooks, Julia Lowell, and Laura Zakaras. "The Performing Arts in a New Era". Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation, 2001. (ISBN 0833030418)


External links

* [ Arthur C. Brooks's profile at the American Enterprise Institute's website]
* [ Brooks's profile at Syracuse University's website]
* [ Brooks's personal website]

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