Charles Murray is a social scientist and writer, best known as the author of Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950–1980, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (with Richard J. Herrnstein), and Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010 (2012). His other books include In Pursuit: Of Happiness and Good Government (1988), What It Means to Be a Libertarian: A Personal Interpretation (1997), Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950 (2003), In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State (2006), Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America’s Schools Back to Reality (2008), and Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010 (2012). His latest book, By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission, was published in 2015.
Murray began his career in 1965 as a Peace Corps Volunteer attached to the Thai Ministry of Health’s Village Health and Sanitation Project. He subsequently worked as a contractor to US-AID, then as a member of a team of researchers assigned to develop methodologies for assessing the impact of Thailand’s rural development programs. Murray interrupted this work from 1970 to 1972 to enter MIT’s Ph.D program in political science. He returned to Thailand during 1972–1973, conducting field research in villages throughout North and Northeast Thailand that eventually became the basis for his first book, A Behavioral Study of Rural Modernization. From 1974–1981, he was a scientist at the Washington office of the American Institutes for Research (AIR), one of the largest nonprofit research organizations devoted exclusively to the behavioral sciences. From 1979–1981, Murray was Chief Scientist of the Washington office.
At AIR, Murray specialized in the evaluation of social programs. He conducted or supervised evaluations of programs in urban education, welfare services, child nutrition, day care, adolescent pregnancy, services for the elderly, delinquency, and criminal justice. These included some of the most important of the demonstration programs of the 1970s, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s “Push for Excellence” program to stimulate achievement among inner-city students; the “Cities in Schools” program, an experimental effort to integrate human services; the Standards and Goals Program, a nationwide effort to establish operating standards and long-range objectives for police, courts, and correctional agencies; and the Unified Delinquency Intervention Services program in Chicago, providing noncustodial alternatives for violent juvenile offenders.
In 1981, Murray left AIR to write the study of American social policy that became Losing Ground. From 1982–1990, Murray was a fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Since 1990, he has been a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he is now the W.H. Brady Scholar in Culture and Freedom.
In addition to his books, Murray’s work since 1981 includes articles in The Public Interest, The New Republic, Commentary, The Wilson Quarterly, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the London Sunday Times, as well as in technical journals. Sponsors of lectures and faculty seminars include all of the leading American universities as well as universities and research institutions in Europe, South America, and Australia. Murray has testified before congressional and senate committees dealing with poverty and welfare and served as a faculty resource on numerous panels and conferences for government officials, members of congress, and visiting dignitaries.