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. This year they produced a large, new course on International Trade with more courses from a variety of teachers coming this year.
Dr. Tabarrok travelled widely in 2013 – this year he was invited by The Grattan Institute and the Australian government to speak in Australia. Dr. Tabarrok spoke at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Treasury and the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education as well as at a conference held by the Grattan Institute and the US Studies Center. He also spoke at Kenyon College, Ball State University and Florida State University on his book Launching the Innovation Renaissance and at the AEAs on Teaching the Solow Model in Principles of Economics.
Dr. Tabarrok was pleased to attend O'Reilly Media's “Foo Camp” an inter-disciplinary, self-organizing meeting of scientists from all over the world held at Google's campus in Silicon Valley. He also helped to organize and spoke at the Celebration of Achievement in honor of Jim Buchanan.
He published two academic papers this year “Firearms and Suicides in US States” (with Justin Briggs) in the International Review of Law and Economics. This paper was widely discussed in the media and also led to a popular piece in Slate. He also published “Private Education in India: A Novel Test of Cream Skimming” in Contemporary Economic Policy and he helped with an Amici Curiae Brief to the Supreme Court. Alex continues to write regularly at Marginal Revolution.
Don Boudreaux continued to lecture and write with frequency during 2013, contributing a column twice a month for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He also continued to write for Café Hayek, his blog with Dr. Russell Roberts, which can be found at www.cafehayek.com. 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. His paper “Systematically Biased Beliefs About Political Influence,” co-authored with Eric Crampton Wayne Grove, and Ilya Somin, was accepted by PS: Political Science and Politics. This piece argues that voter bias runs deeper than most social scientists realize. Voters don't merely have systematically mistaken beliefs about the effects of policies; they also have systematically mistaken beliefs about who to blame for what. As a result, voters lack the knowledge to simply “vote for good results.”
Caplan continues to blog for EconLog, one of the world's most popular economics blogs. In late 2013, he and his co-author, GMU Ph.D. student Zachary Gochenour, published “An Entrepreneurial Critique of Georgism ” in the Review of Austrian Economics.
Caplan's primary project, is his book in progress entitled, 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. Contrary to popular and academic belief, the “return to education” largely reflects rent-seeking rather than genuine creation of human capital. 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 chapter pays special attention to two key pieces of evidence in favor of the signaling model: the “sheepskin effect” – the extraordinary payoff of degree completion – and “malemployment” – workers' growing tendency to possess more education than their jobs actually use.
Finally, on October 30, Caplan debated in favor of the resolution “Let Anyone Take a Job Anywhere” for Intelligence Squared, arguably the most prestigious debate forum in the world.
Tyler Cowen published his book Average is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation, in September 2013 with Penguin/Dutton. This book has received considerable attention, including multiple write-ups and reviews in The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Financial Times, NPR, and numerous other outlets, including in numerous other languages. He is now working on a manuscript on the case for a free society.
He has continued work on his on-line education project, Marginial Revolution University, which focuses on economics, co-created with CSPC colleague Dr. Alex Tabarrok. The most recent addition to the project is a new course on the history of economic thought. Dr. Cowen and Dr. Tabarrok also continued work on their popular textbooks which cover macroeconomics and microeconomics, Modern Principles: Macroeconomics and Modern Principles: Microeconomics.
Dr . Cowen also wrote for numerous media outlets during 2013. He continued his monthly columns for The New York Times on economic policy, wrote for the Times on-line, and his weekly book review column for The New York Times Sunday Magazine. He and Alex Tabarrok continued their daily weblog Marginal Revolution, which now has over sixty-seven million unique visits and was named the top economics blog by The Wall Street Journal.
Robin Hanson continued to participate in an IARPA (Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity) grant, which this year was increased in funding, redirected from forecasting foreign intelligence to science and technology progress, and renamed from DAGGRE to SciCast. SciCast software is being reimplemented from scratch to be more professional and to support far more users and questions, as well as a wider range of question types. Dr. Hanson continues to design algorithms for this project, and to publish results in computer science venues.
Dr. Hanson has also continued to focus on and develop his book on the social implications that would follow form the mass adoption of the technology of whole brain emulation. Increased from thirty to eighty five thousand words, and based on feedback from one hundred draft readers, the current book draft has a much wider coverage of dimensions of life and society. No social implications of a future technology has ever been this broad, thorough, and analytic.
Dr. Hanson gave over a dozen academic presentations, and wrote many dozens of posts at his blog Overcoming Bias. His publications during 2013 included “Shall We Vote on Values, But Bet on Beliefs?” in the Journal of Political Philosophy, and “Idea Futures and A Critical Discussion of Vinge's Singularity Concept,” which was reprinted in The Transhumanist Reader, Wiley-Blackwell, ed. Max More and Natasha Vita-More, pp. 243-257, 395-418.
Ron Heiner continued research on the evolution of cooperation, including one-shot interactions like the one-shot prisoners' dilemma. A key difference from standard game theory is the use of signal detection theory from behavioral psychology. The resulting analysis enabled Dr. Heiner to model the impact of communication and forecasting signals on strategic decisions. He proves contingent cooperators can maintain their competitive advantage against always defecting players, even in one-shot prisoners' dilemmas, and even at the limit where their forecasting ability is no better than pure chance.
He is currently writing a book titled Cooperation in Prisoners' Dilemmas: the Critical Case of One-Shot Interactions (World Scientific Press, 2014). The book also investigates the causal basis for analyzing strategic decisions. Causal principles are the critical link enabling signal detection theory to be combined with traditional game theory analysis. The book shows how players can detect signals from their partners to forecast their partner's future decisions—by showing that doing so rests on the same causal basis used to forecast events in the natural sciences—analogous to forecasting future weather conditions with barometer signals caused by current changes in atmospheric pressure that also causally influence tomorrow's weather.
Noel Johnson published five papers this year, including three written with his colleague at the Center for Study of Public Choice, Mark Koyama. “Taxes, Lawyers, and the Decline of Witch Trials in France” was published in the Journal of Law and Economics. Johnson and Koyama's “Legal Centralization and the Birth of the Secular State” was published in the Journal of Comparative Economics. Their collaborative paper “Tax Farming and the Origins of State Capacity in England and France” was published in Explorations in Economic History. He also co-authored “Corruption, Regulation, and Growth: An Empirical Study of the United States,” with William Ruger, Jason Sorens, and Steven Yamarik. It was published in Economics of Governance. Finally, his paper “From Internal Taxes to National Regulation: Evidence from a French Wine Tax Reform at the Turn of the Twentieth Century” (with Raphael Franck and John V. C. Nye) was published in Explorations in Economic History.
Additionally, Dr. Johnson presented the paper “Jewish Persecutions and Weather Shocks: 1100-1800” (co-authored with Warren Anderson and Mark Koyama) at several places, including Northwestern University, Rutgers University, the NES & HSE Conference on Culture and Diversity in Moscow in Fall 2013, Stanford University, Chapman University, and the Elliott School of International Affairs in Spring 2013. In Fall 2013, Dr. Johnson presented the paper “From State Capacity to Rule of Law in Old Regime France” at the Social Science History Conference in Chicago. He also continued to work on the paper “Did Government Crowd Out Religious Schooling in Late Nineteenth Century France?” (with Raphael Franck).
In addition to these projects, Drs. Johnson and Koyama continue to work on their book project, The Rise and Fall of the Persecuting State.
Dr. Johnson continued to enjoy being an organizer for the Washington Area Economic History Seminar, which meets once a month and brings together scholars from area universities. He also coordinated the Economic History Workshop, which gathers together local academics and graduate students to present their work.
Garett Jones published two papers in 2013, one in experimental game theory and one in general equilibrium theory.
In experimental work with Omar al- Ubaydli and Jaap Weel, he found that more patient pairs of players were more likely to coordinate on win-win outcomes in a game based on a story from Rousseau, a game known as the “stag hunt.” The surprising finding was that one patient player alone wasn't enough to push the pair to a win-win outcome: Individual patient players weren't noticeably more cooperative on average. But two players with a high average rate of patience tended to cooperate more often and to earn more money in the game.The paper was published in the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics.
In the lead article published in the January 2013 issue of Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, he demonstrated how differences in average skill level might have only a small relationship with workers' wages within a country while causing massive differences in workers' wages across countries. The formal model claims that high-skilled workers might be using more delicate, more fragile cutting-edge technology that is highly productive, while slightly less-skilled workers in the same country end up earning almost as much by using a more durable “foolproof” technology.
While a guest blogger on EconLog during the 2013 Spring semester, Dr. Jones discussed the downside of a U.S. debt default on John Stossel's Fox Business program, and his writings were noted in a New York Times column on the power of memory and its role as a durable good.
Mark Koyama completed several projects in 2013, like his paper entitled “Jewish Persecutions and Weather Shocks, 1100-1800” with Warren Anderson and Noel Johnson. This paper examines the relationship between periods of colder weather and anti-Semitic persecutions in medieval and early modern Europe. He also completed a paper with Jean-Paul Carvalho called “Resisting Education” that explores how in a model in which education transmits cultural values, increases in the return to education can cause some groups within society to consume less education. Both of these papers are currently under review.
A series of papers he wrote with Noel Johnson were accepted for publication in 2013. “Legal Centralization and the Rise of the Secular State,” appeared in the Journal of Comparative Economics in November. “Tax Farming and the Origins of State Capacity,” was published in the January 2014 issue of Explorations in Economic History and “Taxes, Lawyers, and the Decline of Witch Trials in France” is scheduled to appear in the February issue of the Journal of Law and Economics.
Drs. Koyama and Johnson are also planning a book on the emergence of religious toleration in early modern Europe. In August 2013, Dr. Koyama was awarded the Fenwick Fellowship for 2013-2014 in order to help fund this project. He also wrote a survey paper entitled “Preindustrial Cliometrics ” for the journal Economic Affairs, which appeared in issue 2, volume 33.
He started several new projects this year. Together with colleagues from the National University of Singapore, Mark has begun to work on a series of papers examining state formation in both Europe and China. He is also working with James Reade of the University of Reading in order to try to extract data from the Oxford National Dictionary of Biography.
The year was full of conference trips and presentations as well. Dr. Koyama presented “Jewish Expulsions and Weather Shocks, 1100-1800” in January at King's College London's Department of Political Economy. In March, he attended and presented “Resisting Education” at the Public Choice Conference in New Orleans. In June he attended the All-UC Conference at Chapman University where he presented his work and also visited UC Irvine for a few days to work with Jean-Paul Carvalho. At the end of June Dr. Koyama visited Hawaii for the Cliometrics Society World Congress where he presented his paper on Jewish persecutions. In September, he was involved in organizing the Economic History Association meetings, which were held in Arlington, Virginia. Finally, in November he presented a paper on inflation and the rule of law at the Mercatus Center's Conference Instead of the Fed.
Dr. Koyama also continued to act as the Job Market Placement Officer at George Mason, as well as the coordinator of the weekly Public Choice Seminar Series. In Fall 2013 he also became a coordinator for the Washington Area Economic History Seminar. Finally, in July 2013 and in January 2014 he organized one-day workshops in Economic History at Arlington for economic historians working in the Greater DC area.
Peter Leeson is Professor of Economics and BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism 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. Some of his most recent research uses rational choice theory to understand the role that superstition plays in promoting social cooperation.
He was the winner of the Outstanding Paper Award, Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy, for “The Brewer, the Baker, and the Monopoly Maker” (with D. Thomas) in 2013. Dr. Leeson also published numerous papers in 2013, including “Vermin Trials” in the Journal of Law and Economics; “Gypsy Law” in Public Choice; and “Comparative Historical Political Economy” (with P. Boettke and C. Coyne in the Journal of Institutional Economics.
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 2013. In addition to the task of co-directing the 14th annual meeting of the Summer Institute for the Preservation of the History of Economics with Sandra Peart, he also shared the task of turning an April Conference, “Hayek and the Modern Economy” into a December book.
Drs. Levy and Peart located at the Library of Congress the documentary history of the failed grant application sent by the Thomas Jefferson Center (TJC) of the University of Virginia to the Ford Foundation. As the TJC was co-founded by James M. Buchanan and Warren Nutter, the documents speak to the institutional trajectory of the Public Choice Center. It also brings into focus Ronald Coase's central role in the TJC. It took the better part of a year to acquire documents from the Ford Foundation and the University of Virginia to put together a coherent collection in which all the parties to the disagreements can have their voices heard. Drs. Levy and Peart's chapter “On ‘strongly fortified minds'” in Emily Chamlee - Wright's forthcoming volume examines the details. Levy and Peart are also considering a large volume in which the Virginia School is located in twentieth century discussions.
In an additional publication, Levy and Peart's chapter in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook on Professional Economic Ethics weakens the requirement of transparency for ethical conduct of econometric practice to one in which the non-transparency is itself transparent. This allows the consumer of econometric advice to be aware that precautions need to be taken. Consequently, a transparency non-transparency might be viewed as a second-best outcome when transparency itself is not feasible. Much of this thinking was inspired by Levy and Peart's last conversation with James Buchanan in which he recommended reading Rutledge Vining's technical work.
John Nye continued long term projects at GMU, HSE Moscow, and the Philippines during 2013. In collaboration with Omar Al- Ubaydli, Dan Houser, Maria Paganelli, and Sophie Pan, he published “The Causal Effect of Market Participation on Trust: An Experimental Investigation using Randomized Control” in PLoS One. In collaboration with Noel Johnson and Mark Koyama, he wrote the paper “The Rise and Fall of the Wine Octroi in Late Nineteenth Century France,” which was accepted for publication at Explorations in Economic History. Other work included forthcoming papers in JLEO and several chapters in volumes to appear from Princeton University Press. Appreciations of James Buchanan and Ronald Coase by Dr. Nye appeared or are forthcoming in the Political Economist and the Independent Review.
Dr. Nye continued his work on the biological correlates of performance and human capital in collaboration with scholars at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow where he also presented a number of papers and lectured at the RSSIA summer workshop on the New Institutional Economics.
In Manila, he presented work at conferences organized by the Angara Centre on the computerization of Philippine elections with Desirée Desierto and Alberto Simpser and on rural urban wage gaps in the Philippines with Karl Chua, Louis Limkin, and Jeffrey Williamson. He organized a conference in Manila in December on “What is to be Done?: Resolving Conflicts in Maritime Disputes in Southeast Asia” that focused on the tensions arising from increasing disagreement between China and other nations over territory in East and Southeast Asia. He also served as a lecturer at the Ronald Coase Institute Workshop held in Xiamen, China.
Thomas Stratmann worked on several projects in the area of Public Choice during 2013. One project involves the area of experimental public choice. Here, he is developing one answer to the long-standing puzzle in economics and political science of why people vote. In a separate project, Dr. Stratmann studies the political economy of immigration law enforcement. He also studies the stock trading activity of Congressmen and analyzes to what extent Congressmen might use “insider information” to purchase and sell stock.
In 2013, Dr. Stratmann published articles in areas of Public Choice and applied microeconomics. With former GMU graduate Dr. John Welborn he published “The Option Market Makers Exception to Regulation SHO” in the prestigious Journal of Financial Markets. He also published the forthcoming article “The Effects of Earmarks on the Likelihood of Reelection” in European Journal of Political Economy. Further, his paper “Do Black Mayors Improve Black Relative to White Employment Outcomes?” which he co-authored with Ilia Rainer and John Nye was conditionally accepted at the Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization.
Yong Yoon continued to work during 2013 on his two major research projects, both of which he had collaborated on previously with James M. Buchanan. One project is on the Extent of Markets. The other project is on Collective Action, which includes a book, tentatively titled Individualism and Political Disorder. In addition, three recently published papers will be added: “Institutional Sources of American Fiscal Tragedy” (by Buchanan); “Choosing for Others: A Neglected Element in the Theory of Collective Action” (Buchanan and Yoon, 2012); and “The Cost of Collectivization, Per Se” (Buchanan and Yoon, 2013). The last two papers were published in Public Choice.
Dr. Yoon was invited by the Korean Institute of Public Finance to make a presentation in June 2013. He presented the paper “The Cost of Collectivization, Per Se.” For this presentation, he developed a geometric illustration of excess burden from luncheon club dilemma.
He was also invited to be a presenter at the Buchanan Memorial Conference at George Mason University on September 19, 2013. The title of his presentation was “Anticommons and Increasing Returns,” which he plans to edit and submit for publication in Constitutional Public Economy.
In addition to these presentations, Dr. Yoon gave a lecture on North Korean economy to attendees of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute seminar on September 18, 2013.
He submitted his paper, “The Cost of Collectivizing Moral Goods” to the Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice. This paper was also presented at the organized session, Polycentric Collectivity in Public Finance, during the 2013 Public Choice Society meetings in New Orleans.
Additionally, Drs. William Shughart and Yoon worked on the draft paper “Stackelberg on the Danube River: Games in Anticommons,” which Dr. Yoon plans to present at the 2014 Public Choice Society meetings in Charleston, SC.
Jo Ann Burgess is a vital link and resource to the Center for Study of Public Choice, and wears several hats. In her daily duties, Jo Ann serves as the Archivist/Librarian of the Buchanan House collection of Buchanan's papers, books and memorabilia. In addition, she plays 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. She makes sure that the Center complies with U.S. regulations and George Mason University's procedures for international visitors. In addition, on the arrival of the visitors, she arranges all necessary paperwork and university authorizations for IDs and access to the library for needed materials in conducting their research during their visit. When the occasion warrants, Jo Ann is also the center's videographer.
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 also coordinated the graduate funding for all of the Economics Department.
Lisa also put together another successful Outreach Conference at the Mason Inn. This year's conference welcomed thirty-seven participants from thirty-one states and seven countries.
She is grateful for the valuable administrative team of Jane Perry, Jo-Ann Burgess, Mary Jackson and Dana Vogel, who continue the tradition of excellent support began by the dearly departed Betty Tillman. Here's to another successful year in 2014!
Jane Perry shares duties of providing daily 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 serves as the staff administrative and logistical coordinator for each of the weekly Public Choice Seminar Series presentations. Additionally, Jane's proofreading skills are increasingly in demand for numerous projects, including a number of professional journal articles authored by Center faculty.
As always, she enjoys and appreciates working with talented admin team colleagues Lisa Hill-Corley, Jo Ann Burgess, Dana Vogel, and Mary Jackson on various projects and events throughout the year.
Retired / Past Faculty and Staff
James Buchanan is 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.
On November 21, 2008, the Center joined the George Mason Law School in honoring the distinguished career of Gordon Tullock with a retirement celebration at the campus in Arlington. The event was attended by Center faculty, staff and students, GMU president Alan Merten, and the Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Jack Censer.
With his retirement, Gordon moved from being a George Mason Law professor and became a Professor Emeritus of Law. He currently lives in Tucson, Arizona