Retired / Past Faculty and Staff
Alex Tabarrok is the director of the Center for Study of Public Choice and the Bartley J. Madden Chair in Economics at the Mercatus Center.
His and Tyler Cowen's online education project: Marginal Revolution University continues to expand with more free online courses economics. Cowen and Tabarrok this year produced a new course on the principles of microeconomics.
Dr. Tabarrok's principles of economics textbook, Modern Principles of Economics (with Tyler Cowen) published this year in its 3rd edition. A notable feature of the new edition is embedded video content! Marginal Revolution University (with Tyler Cowen) continues to expand with more free online courses economics.
Dr. Tabarrok also published several articles this year including a paper on online education in the American Economic Review (May) that was also featured in a session at the AEA meetings. He also published on guns and suicide in the International Review of Law and Economics with PhD student Justin Briggs and on patents with newly graduated PhD student Shawn Miller in Econ Journal Watch . In addition, with Tufts researchers Joseph A. DiMasi and Christopher-Paul Milne, Dr. Tabarrok published An FDA Report Card: Wide Variance in Performance Found among Agency's Drug Review Divisions. This Manhattan Institute report, which also features a foreword by former FDA commissioner Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach, received notable media coverage, especially in the medical media. In addition, the report led to Dr. Tabarrok giving testimony on FDA reform to House members of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Dr. Tabarrok also contributed to an Amicus Brief for the Supreme Court in the case of Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar.
He continues to write regularly at Marginal Revolution.
Don Boudreaux continued to lecture and write with frequency during 2014, contributing a column twice a month for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Dr. Boudreaux's work also appeared in such publications as Forbes, Barron's, and the Wall Street Journal.
The blog he writes with Dr. Russell Roberts, Café Hayek, can be found at www.cafehayek.com.
Bryan Caplan had another productive year. He continues to blog for EconLog, one of the world's most popular economics blogs. His “A Radical Case for Open Borders,” co-authored with Vipul Naik, will appear in Oxford University Press's forthcoming volume Immigration: From Social Science to Public Policy, edited by Benjamin Powell of Texas Tech. In May, Powell's Free Market Institute hosted a major tie-in immigration debate between Caplan and Stephen Balch of Texas Tech's Institute for the Study of Western Civilization.
His primary project, however, remains his book in progress, The Case
Against Education. This multi-year project argues that the neglected signaling model of education explains most of what goes on in classrooms around the world. Dr. Caplan's book argues that government support for education largely rests not on interest-group politics, but bad economics. The Case Against Education's latest chapters exhaustively examine the selfish and social returns to educational investments. Selfishly speaking, Caplan finds that higher education is a good investment for good students, a mediocre investment for mediocre students, and a poor investment for poor students. Socially speaking, in contrast, even the returns for excellent students seem to be poor. The Case Against Education will probably be done in early 2017, and see print by December 2017.
Tyler Cowen wrote a significant chunk of a book manuscript, a comparative examination of the historical economic development of the United States and China, during 2014. This eventually will come out as a full-length book. He also finished his book-length manuscript on the philosophical foundations of a free society. In late 2014, Japanese and Spanish language editions of this book came out, with a good deal of attendant publicity.
He has continued as a once every five weeks economics columnist for The New York Times, the Sunday Business section. He also has continued his column work in a new series for The New York Times, in their section known as The Upshot. Additionally, he now seems to have become the standard economics book reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement, having written four reviews over the last year and a half, most recently on the economics of student debt.
During this year, Dr. Cowen and co-author Alex Tabarrok finished the preparation of the third edition of their Modern Principles: Microeconomics, and also Macroeconomics . Those are now out and in use, published with Freeman Worth. He also made ongoing radio and media appearances, and in Washington he debated Robert Solow and Brad DeLong on the Thomas Piketty book and more generally on the issue of income inequality.
2014 saw the further continuation of MRuniversity.com, a site for the on-line teaching of economics, in conjunction with Alex Tabarrok. Cowen and Tabarrok now have over a dozen classes up and running, including Development Economics, The Eurozone, Economics of the Media, The Economy of Mexico, International Economics, and International Finance, among others.
He and Alex Tabarrok also continued their daily weblog Marginal Revolution, which now has over sixty-seven million unique visits, with readers including such economists as Greg Mankiw, Steve Levitt, Paul Krugman, Luigi Zingales, and many others.
Tim Groseclose is the latest addition to the academic colleagues at the Center for Study of Public Choice, arriving at the Center in July 2014.
In April 2014, Dr. Groseclose published a book, Cheating: An Insider's Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLA. He also published thirteen op-eds on Breitbart.com that discussed the book. The book was reviewed at several outlets, including foxnews.com, mindingthecampus.com, The College Fix, The Daily Caller, City Journal, and RealClearPolitics. He participated in several media interviews, including ones at Fox & Friends, the Dennis Prager Show, PJTV, Breitbart Radio, and the Larry Elder Show.
Dr. Groseclose continues to write occasional posts for the blog, Richochet.com. His video lecture on the Laffer Curve for Prager University (a series of 5-minute videos sponsored by radio host Dennis Prager) has reached over two million views.
Robin Hanson continued to participate in an IARPA (Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity) grant that funds SciCast, a combinatorial prediction market to forecast progress in science and technology. He has also continued to focus on and develop his unprecedentedly broad book, The Age of Em: Economics of Brain Emulations. Dr. Hanson also has another book proposal under review, The Elephant in the Brain: Our Unseen Agendas in Posture, Humor, Ads, School, New, Stories, Medicine, Charity, Politics, Religion, and More , this one with coauthor Kevin Simler, on the subject of Dr. Hanson's homo hypocritus account of human nature. Dr . Hanson has already published the book The Hanson-Yudkowsky AI- Foom Debate with Eliezer Yudkowsky.
Dr. Hanson gave over a dozen academic presentations, and wrote many dozens of posts at his blog Overcoming Bias. His publications during 2014 included “When the Economy Transcends Humanity” in The Futurist; “What Will It Be Like To Be An Emulation” in the book Intelligence Unbound; and “Should Earth Shut the Hell Up?” at CATO Unbound.
Ron Heiner continued his research on the evolution of cooperation, combining standard game theory with signal detection theory from behavioral psychology. He is currently writing a book titled Cooperation in Prisoners' Dilemmas: the Critical Case of One-Shot Interactions (World Scientific Press, forthcoming 2015). During this year, Dr. Heiner figured out how to solve a problem that he had pursued over the last ten years.
Dr. Heiner is glad to report he recently discovered how to prove there will always exist a unique Nash equilibrium within the contingently cooperative sub-population: where all continent cooperators choose to be equally cautious in detecting signals from their partners.
Consequently, no continent cooperator can benefit from unilaterally becoming more cautious in detecting signals. The resulting stable Nash equilibrium among continent cooperators guarantees they will grow until they take over the whole population, eventually cooperating at the maximum frequency possible without being outperformed by always defecting players.
Noel Johnson continued to work on several writing projects during 2014, including working papers titled “Jewish Persecutions and Weather Shocks: 1100–1800” (with Warren Anderson and Mark Koyama); “Did Government Crowd Out Religious Schooling in Late Nineteenth Century France?” (with Raphael Franck); and “Identity and Integration: Language Fractionalization and the Vote for the Eurozone in France” (with Megan Teague).
Additionally, Dr. Johnson worked on “Taxes, National Identity, and National Building: Evidence from France,” which he presented at several conferences, including ISNIE (Durham, NC, June 2014); the Economic History Association (Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 2014; Columbia University) and the University of Vermont (Burlington, VT, Spring 2014). He presented the paper “Bones, Bacteria and Breaks: The Effects of the Black Death on Urban Economic Development” (co-authored with Remi Jedwab and Mark Koyama) at the Washington Area Economic History Workshop in January 2014.
In addition to two papers co-authored with Dr. Mark Koyama, two additional publications appeared in print in 2014: “Establishing a New Order: The Growth of the State and the Decline of Witch Trials in France” (with John V. C. Nye and Mark Koyama), in John Nye, Avner Greif, and Lynn Kiesling , eds., Institutions, Innovation, and Industrialization: Essays in Economic History and Development , a festschrift volume in the honor of Prof. Joel Mokyr (Princeton University Press) and a review of Guy Rowlands, “The Financial Decline of a Great Power: War, Influence, and Money in Louis XIV's France,” which appeared in the Journal of Economic History.
CSPC colleagues Drs. Johnson and Koyama submitted the proposal and first few chapters of their book The Birth of Religious Freedom: Liberalism, Rule of Law, and State Capacity, 1100–1800 to Cambridge University Press in 2014.
Dr. Johnson continued to help with the organizing of the weekly Public Choice Seminar Series during 2014, as well as to serve as an organizer for the Washington Area Economic History Seminar series. The latter meets once a month with outside speakers, and brings together scholars from area universities. Johnson also continued to coordinate the Washington Area Economic History Workshop series, which brings together academics and grad students from around the world to present their work at a twice-yearly mini-conference.
Garett Jones published three academic articles this year and submitted the manuscript for his forthcoming book under contract with Stanford University Press. The book is entitled Hive Mind: How Your Nation's IQ Matters so Much More than Your Own.
Two of the articles form part of the research underlying the book: In a paper coauthored with Niklas Potrafke and published in the psychology journal Intelligence, Jones found that national test scores, whether IQ-type scores or math and reading-type scores, are good predictors of a nation's level of property rights enforcement. In a paper coauthored with R.W. Hafer and published in Small Business Economics , Jones found that IQ-type scores are good predictors of nation's level of pro-entrepreneurship policies. A third paper published in Studies in Emergent Order reviewed Dan Klein's Knowledge and Coordination , and noted how economic education often leaves out classical liberal insights that can't easily fit into mathematical models.
In addition, Dr. Jones discussed Piketty's bestselling Capital in the 21st Century for Reason magazine in a review that garnered some media attention. The New Republic compared Jones to some other reviewers of Piketty, concluding that “…unlike Garett Jones, they lack the courage of their convictions…” Dr. Jones appeared also on the Fox News show Stossel, noting the high cost of minimum wage laws, the underappreciated benefits of frugality, and the downside of price gouging laws. Jones also spent a week co-teaching a course at the European Forum Alpbach, a 70-year old conference of ideas frequented for decades by Friedrich Hayek.
Mark Koyama completed several projects during the year. In 2014 Dr. Koyama, together with CSPC colleague Dr. Noel Johnson, completed a book proposal entitled: The Birth of Religious Freedom: Liberalism, Rule of Law, and State Capacity, 1100–1800.
Several of Dr. Koyama's papers appeared in print in 2014 including “Taxes, Lawyers, and the Decline of Witch Trials in France” in the Journal of Law and Economics and “Tax Farming and the Origins of State Capacity” in Explorations in Economic History . Both papers were co-authored with Dr. Noel Johnson. Koyama's paper “The Law & Economics of Private Prosecutions in Industrial Revolution England” was published in the April issue of Public Choice and was awarded the Gordon Tullock Prize for the best paper published in Public Choice by a young scholar. Another paper “Monetary Stability and the Rule of Law” with Blake Johnson, a graduate student at GMU, was published in the Journal of Monetary Stability.
Dr. Koyama also began several new projects in 2014. Together with Melanie Meng Xue , a GMU graduate student, he completed a draft of a paper entitled “The Literary Inquisition: The Persecution of Intellectuals and the Accumulation of Human Capital in Imperial China.” He also began working with Theresa Finley on a paper called “Plague, Politics, and Pogroms: The Black Death, Fragmented States, and the Persecution of Jews in Medieval Germany.”
In January 2014, Dr. Koyama co-organized a second one-day workshop on economic history and development economics with Noel Johnson and Remi Jedwab , where he presented his work comparing political fragmentation in Europe with political unification in China. In March 2014, Koyama presented his work at the Economic History Society Conference in Warwick. In May he presented at a conference on economic growth hosted by Oded Galor at Brown University. Throughout spring 2014 Dr. Koyama was involved in several Adam Smith Fellowship workshops. During the summer, he visited the NUS in May and June 2014 to present his work and work with his co-authors there. In June 2014 he presented at ISNIE at Duke Law School in North Carolina. In August 2014, Koyama organized a one-day Economic History Workshop at the Mercatus Center.
In fall 2014, Dr. Koyama gave a paper at the Economic History Association Conference in Columbus, Ohio. He presented new work with Melanie Meng Xue at the Adam Smith Seminar series in October. In November 2014 he also visited Colby College to talk about his work and gave a seminar at American University.
Dr. Koyama continued to act as the Job Market Placement Officer at GMU, as well as Coordinator of the weekly Public Choice Seminar Series. He also continued as a coordinator for the Washington Area Economic History Seminar series.
Peter Leeson is the Duncan Black Professor of Economics and Law at George Mason University. He is also North American Editor of Public Choice and a Senior Scholar of the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.
Dr. Leeson's work studies the economics of non-market decision making, in particular law and legal systems. He published a number of articles during 2014. Leeson's newest book, Anarchy Unbound: Why Self-Governance Works Better than You Think (Cambridge University Press, 2014), analyzes the economics of self-governing societies.
To follow his current work or find his published papers, visit his personal website:www.PeterLeeson.com
David Levy had another very productive year in 2014 in his joint work with Sandra Peart to understand how the central figures at the Thomas Jefferson Center of the University of Virginia, James Buchanan, Ronald Coase and Warren Nutter, provided roots for the Public Choice Center.
The first of Levy and Peart's manuscript discoveries, G. Warren Nutter's, “A Traveler's Tale of the Soviet Economy: A Witness to the Actual World” has been published online in the Review of Austrian Economics. The subtitle makes reference to the Levy- Peart discovery reported in a 2011 article in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization of the mathematical absurdity in the sequence of major American economics textbooks in the 1960–80 period—Paul Samuelson's in particular—in which the Soviet economy is invariably described as growing faster than the American economy, but it never catches up. This contradiction shows that world is impossible. There is a good deal to be said for restricting our attention to at least possible worlds.
The second of the Levy and Peart manuscript discoveries, the history of the Thomas Jefferson Center's failed grant proposal to the Ford Foundation, has been deposited on SSRN under the title “`Almost Wholly Negative': The Ford Foundation's Evaluation of the Virginia School.” This document collection and commentary was presented at the Duke University History of Political Economy workshop and Rutgers University Economic History workshop.
The third discovery came as a result of a memo that Ronald Coase wrote detailing his experience with the Ford Foundation. Responding to their characterization of his thinking as private market dogmatics, he pointed to his role in the Fabian Society's proposal to reform the BBC in the late 1940s. Coase wrote that he had provided the memo that guided the Fabian discussion. As this episode was not noted in the standard history of British broadcasting, a trip to the London School of Economics archives was made. The resulting paper (with Sandra Peart) is also on SSRN, titled “When Ronald Coase Was Asked to Testify for the Fabians.”
More manuscript work will be laid out in 2015. Levy and Peart are co-directing a Liberty Fund Conference on Milton Friedman's continuing importance at which they'll be presenting a paper, “Milton Friedman, Analytical Egalitarian.” Helpful background to Ayn Rand's angry response to the Friedman-Stigler, Roofs or Ceilings? was discovered in the process of researching the paper. By happenstance, John Rawls's letter to both Jim Buchanan and Gordon Tullock about their Calculus of Consent was discovered.
The Levy-Peart expert book in progress has a new title— Escape from Democracy: From Discussion to Expert Fiat. Lastly, the Peart -Levy Summer Institute for the Preservation of the History of Economics will be resumed in June 2015 after a one-year hiatus.
John Nye continued his very productive work with colleagues at GMU, Higher School of Economics Moscow, and in Manila during 2014. Dr. Nye's published papers appeared in the Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization and in Explorations in Economic History as well as in Inequality in Asia and the Pacific ( Kanbur, et al., eds.) from the Asian Development Bank. Editing was completed on the volume Institutions, Innovation, and Industrialization: Essays in Economic History and Development, written jointly with Lynne Kiesling and Avner Greif, and it is scheduled to appear from Princeton University Press early in 2015. Other papers were accepted at Personality and Individual Development and the Journal of Comparative Economics.
Dr. Nye organized conferences on regional inequality and structural reform in the summer of 2014 and then another on ASEAN integration in December of 2014 for the Angara Centre for Law and Economics in the Philippines. He was a lecturer in the RSSIA summer school 2014 and the Ronald Coase Institute workshop, December 2014. He spoke at the Southern Economics Association meetings in November on his work with Melanie Meng Xue on “Raising Dragons.”
Dr. Nye is continuing other work on political economy, development, human capital, and biology.
Thomas Stratmann worked on several projects in the Public Choice area during 2014. In the area of experimental public choice, one project involves developing an answer to the long-standing puzzle in economics and political science of why people vote. Drawing on the literature on altruistic punishment, Stratmann shows that voters are willing to incur the cost of voting, simply to punish incumbents who did not keep their election promises. They do so, even if the voter is indifferent between the proposed platform of the incumbent and that of the challenger, and even if the voter did not personally experience a decrease in welfare due to the broken promise. In a separate project, Dr. Stratmann studies the determinants of administrative earmarks. He studies whether federal agencies are more likely to fund projects in districts that are core supporters of the president, or whether they are more likely to allocate funds to swing districts. He further studies the stock trading patterns of Congressmen.
In 2014, Dr. Stratmann published articles in areas of Public Choice and applied microeconomics. His article “The Effects of Earmarks on the Likelihood of Reelection” was published in European Journal of Political Economy. He co-authored (with John Nye and Ilia Rainer) the article “Do Black Mayors Improve Black Relative to White Employment Outcomes?” which appeared in the Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization. His paper with Adam Leive, “Do Cancer Screening Guidelines Reduce Mortality?” is forthcoming in the Journal of Population Economics.
Yong Yoon worked during 2014 to complete his book titled Individualism and Political Disorder, which is scheduled to appear in March 2015 by Edward Elgar Publishing. The title suggests the book's theme that is in contrast and comparison to Hayek's book, Individualism and Economic Order. The book consists of an introductory chapter by Dr. Yoon and thirteen papers, eleven of which were co-authored by Yoon and Dr. James M. Buchanan. Two additional papers in the volume were authored by Dr. Buchanan.
Yoon's activities in 2014 included a visit to Dr. Buchanan's Alma Mater, Middle Tennessee State University, at the invitation of their business school and the Buchanan Honor Scholar program. He gave a talk titled “Buchanan's Last Book,” based on his earlier version of the introductory chapter to their book Individualism and Political Disorder.
Dr. Yoon has also been working on a continuing research project on anticommons and its applications. A book with the tentative title Stackelberg on the Danube and Other Tragedies is planned.
In addition, Yoon wrote “Stackelberg on the Danube River: Games in Anticommons,” which is forthcoming in Public Finance and Public Choice. He also wrote “Private Interest of Public Men and Political Decay,” which appeared in Review of Institutions and Economics (in Korean). He is currently revising the draft “Anticommons and Increasing Returns." He plans to submit this paper to Constitutional Public Economy. He presented the paper “Stackelberg on the Danube River: Games in Anticommons” at the Public Choice Society meetings in Charleston, S.C. in March 2014. He is currently working on a draft paper “Monopsony in Anticommons” for presentation at the 2015 Public Choice Society meetings in San Antonio, TX.
In her tenure at GMU, Jo Ann served as the Archivist/Librarian of the Buchanan House collection of Buchanan's papers, books and memorabilia. She also played an important role as the Center's Visiting Scholar Facilitator in administering and coordinating with the Office of International Programs and Services to secure appropriate paperwork and forms required for the visiting scholar's entrance into the United States. Jo Ann also served as the center's videographer, and captured many historic moments, such as the last debate between James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock in 2006 and Dr. Buchanan's last visit to Fairfax in 2012. She retired in the summer of 2014.
Lisa Hill-Corley assists with the support of the main resident faculty at Carow Hall with administrative, visitor and office manager tasks. She also manages the main budget and grants for Center, and maintains the Center website. In addition Lisa coordinates the graduate funding for all of the Economics Department.
Lisa also coordinated another successful Outreach Conference in June. This year's conference moved to its new home at the Hyatt Arlington in Rosslyn and welcomed thirty-five participants from fifteen states and five countries.
She is grateful for the valuable administrative team of Jane Perry, Mary Jackson and Dana Vogel, who continue the tradition of excellence of support to the Center and to graduate funding. Here's to another successful year in 2015!
Jane Perry shares duties of providing administrative support to resident Carow Hall faculty, as well as for the daily admin operations and coordination of Carow Hall. She enjoys welcoming and assisting faculty, students, visiting scholars, and other visitors at the Center for Study of Public Choice.
Jane is the staff administrative and logistical coordinator for each of the weekly Public Choice Seminar Series presentations, held during the fall and spring semesters. Additionally, she assumed the duties of facilitating the visits of the Center's visiting scholars, upon the retirement of administrative colleague Jo Ann Burgess in 2014.
She serves as the Center's resident proofreader, and her proofreading skills are increasingly in demand for various projects throughout the year, including numerous professional journal articles, book chapters, and other works authored by Center faculty.
As always, she enjoys and greatly appreciates working with outstanding admin team colleagues Lisa Hill-Corley, Dana Vogel, and Mary Jackson on various projects and events throughout the year.
Retired / Past Faculty and Staff
James Buchanan was the cofounder, along with Gordon Tullock, of public choice theory. Dr. Buchanan was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in economics for “his development of the contractual and constitutional bases for the theory of economic and political decision making.” Buchanan spent much of his academic career in Virginia with tenures at the University of Virginia; Virginia Tech, where he established the Center for Study of Public Choice; and here at George Mason University, where he served as the advisory general director of the Center for Study of Public Choice, and as a distinguished professor emeritus.
Betty Hall Tillman worked for economist James Buchanan for 46 years. He hired her in July 1961 to work at the Thomas Jefferson Center for Political Economy at the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville, VA. They later moved the center to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA and he took her with him. In 1983 they then moved the Center to GMU. Betty did not retire until 2007 at the age of 80. Known as the "First Lady of Public Choice." or "Momma Betty," she enjoyed making the Center a family atmosphere and was an inspiration to everyone who met her.