A professor of economics at George Mason University, Donald Boudreaux, has a column in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review explaining that incentives don't explain everything: culture also matters. He writes, "Our modern standard of living was sparked by a major cultural change that occurred only a few generations back. That cultural change -- happening first in the Netherlands and soon afterward in Britain -- was a change in people's attitude toward the bourgeoisie. Merchants, innovators and business people came to be, for the first time in human history, not only tolerated but respected."
The column is based on Deirdre McCloskey's book Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World, which Professor Boudreaux calls "magnificent" and "the most important book I've read this millennium."