Faculty and Staff

Faculty and Staff

Retired / Past Faculty and Staff


Faculty and Staff

Alexander Tabarrok

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.

Dr. Tabarrok had a wonderful half-year sabbatical this year spending the time in Mumbai, India as a Resident Senior Fellow of the IDFC Institute. As Senior Fellow, Dr. Tabarrok participated in research on land-development issues and crime. He also gave talks throughout India, including in Delhi at the Brookings Institution-India on "The Online Education Revolution and India." His discussant for this talk was Sh. R. Subrahmanyam, India's Secretary in charge of Technical Education. Members of the Prime Minister's office and many industry leaders were also present. Dr. Tabarrok also spoke about the prospects for online education at the IDFC's Conversations series in Mumbai. In February he spoke at the worldwide meeting for the Asia Liberty Forum on issues of federalism. In addition, he was invited to give a number of guest lectures at leading universities in India including the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies and the Meghnad Desai Academy Of Economics. He also spoke to industry groups such as at 91Springboard, an incubator for startups in India.

Dr. Tabarrok continued to write while in India. For example, his piece with Brandon Pizzola contributes to the literature on occupational licensing using an unusual case where an occupation, funeral director, was delicensed. Using a variety of techniques such as difference in differences, triple-difference, and synthetic control we estimate wage premiums and other effects of the delicensing. He also published a short piece in the Indian journal Pragati on tourism in India - he has since been told that this piece received a lot of attention from top policy makers in India. A selection of pieces follow.

Marginal Revolution University also continues to be very successful. It's gratifying to receive emails from students all over the world who are using the MRU materials. In India, Dr. Tabarrok also made a number of educational videos which will appear over the coming year.

He continues to write regularly at Marginal Revolution.


Donald Boudreaux

Donald Boudreaux published The Essential Hayek - a book that distills F.A. Hayek's main ideas into chapters that are accessible to non-economists.  He also edited What America's Decline in Economic Freedom Means for Entrepreneurship and Prosperity.  This latter book won the 2015 Sir Antony Fisher Award from the Atlas Network.

Boudreaux continues to write his twice-monthly column for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and to write with some regularity for national publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Barron's.

The blog he writes with Dr. Russell Roberts, Café Hayek, can be found at www.cafehayek.com.

Bryan Caplan


Bryan Caplan has completed the final round of revisions of his magnum opus, The Case Against Education for Princeton University Press. The book 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 "the political economy of Social Desirability Bias." Education sounds wonderful, even though sober calculation of its social rate of return reveals massive waste of taxpayer dollars. Unfortunately, voters care far more about how policies sound than how well they actually work, making high and growing education budgets popular around the globe. The Case Against Education will be published in January 2018 by Princeton University Press.  


Dr. Caplan's next project is a non-fiction graphic novel on the social science and philosophy of immigration, tentatively titled All Roads Lead to Open Borders. This work, co-authored with famed cartoonist Zach Weinersmith of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, is already half-written. Scripts and pre-visualizations for the chapters on immigration's effects on global output, national finances, and culture and crime, are largely complete. The chapter on the political effects of immigration, merging public opinion research with public choice, is well underway. If all goes well, All Roads Lead to Open Borders will be an excellent secondary textbook for classes in labor economics, immigration, global justice, and public choice.


Tyler Cowen

Tyler Cowen published The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream, with St. Martin's Press. The book has received extensive write-ups and reviews from most major media outlets, most prominently The Financial Times, The Washington Post, and The Economist, as well as being covered several times by NPR and many other radio and TV stations, including a forthcoming CNN segment. The book has been covered extensively in the foreign press as well, ranging from China to France to Switzerland to Korea.

After a soft launch, Dr. Cowen formally and fully published a book on-line, Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals. This book represents Dr. Cowen's thoughts on the philosophic foundations of a free society. Dr. Cowen has been working on it, on and off, for almost twenty years. Dr. Cowen has additional translations coming out in China, including his earlier book on arts funding. He believes six of his books have come out in China over the last two years, and he is working hard at building up a reputation in what is surely the world's (long-term) #2 market for recognition in economics.

Dr. Cowen and Alex Tabarrok are on the verge of finishing work on the fourth edition of our Modern Principles: Microeconomics, and also Macroeconomics, with Freeman Worth Macmillan, due out very soon. This text is not just a rehash of the other books on the market, rather, it attempts a comprehensive statement of macroeconomics from a "GMU point of view."

After ten years at The New York Times, Dr. Cowen has moved to Bloomberg View, where he publishes a column twice a week. For a full listing and reproduction of these, see the tab on the left hand side of www.marginalrevolution.com.

Dr. Cowen continued the Conversations with Tyler series, bringing to GMU Jhumpa Lahiri, Malcolm Gladwell, Ben Sasse, Edward Luce, and other prominent names, in addition to recording off-site with Atul Gawande, Jill Lepore, and Raj Chetty, in podcast, video, and text versions. This series has received coverage in virtually every major media outlet and has received over a million hits on-line.

Dr. Cowen's students, Eli Dourado, James Broughel, and Sarah Oh, all recently finished, and they all have good jobs.

Dr. Cowen continued the daily blogging of economic and other ideas for www.marginalrevolution.com, which is generally considered the leading economics blog. Their readership remains robust. Dr. Cowen also used MR to promote the research being done at GMU by many other faculty members and graduate students, including Daniel Klein, Mark Koyama, Noel Johnson, David Levy, Bryan Caplan, and others. It has become perhaps the world's biggest "window" onto our world.

This last year saw the continuation of MRuniversity.com, a site for the on-line teaching of economics, in conjunction with Alex Tabarrok. MRuniversity.com now has a dozen or so classes up and running, including Development Economics, The Eurozone, Economics of the Media, The Economy of Mexico, International Economics, and International Finance, among others. They now have a complete and finished Principles of Microeconomics class up and running, and Principles of Macro is soon on the way.


Tim Groseclose

During the 2016-17 academic year, the work of Tim Groseclose was mentioned by several media outlets, including National Review, Investors Business Daily, Breitbart.com, The American Thinker, and The Washington Times. Dr. Groseclose completed two working papers that examine mathematical models of game theory. One re-examines the "Coase Conjecture" on monopoly pricing, and another computes the equilibrium to a bargaining model in which, like President-Senate negotiations over judicial appointments, only one player has the formal power to make a proposal. Dr. Groseclose organized and hosted the "Virginia Political Economy Conference," where approximately a dozen scholars from George Mason, Princeton, Caltech, and Stanford presented their research.


Robin Hanson

Robin Hanson's first book, The Age of Em: Work, Love, and Life when Robots Rule the Earth, from Oxford University Press, was published on June 1, 2016. It has sold roughly 9000 copies, received 160 media mentions, and 47 reviews, including at The Financial Times, The Guardian, and The Wall Street Journal. A paperback revision will appear in 2018. His second book, The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life, coauthored with Kevin Simler, also from Oxford, will be published January 2, 2018. In 2016, Dr. Hanson gave 66 presentations, most of them on Age of Em, and wrote dozens of posts at his blog Overcoming Bias. He also published "Human Legacies When Robots Rule the Earth," in The Next Step: Exponential Life, pp. 162-177.


Ronald Heiner

Dr. Heiner continued his research on the evolution of cooperation, combining standard game theory with signal detection theory from behavioral psychology. He is currently finishing a book titled Cooperation in Prisoners' Dilemmas: the Critical Case of One-Shot Interactions (World Scientific Press). During last year, Dr. Heiner solved certain problems about how to combine signal detection analysis with standard game theory.

Standard game theory assumes individual players of a given type will behave in the same way - including all the contingent cooperators in a larger population that also includes always defecting players. However, an individual player could still behave contingently (and thus is still part of the contingently cooperative sub-population) - yet reduce its probability of cooperating - by choosing to detect signals from its partner more cautiously than another contingent cooperator.

Such a more cautious contingent cooperator may also have higher expected payoff than less cautious ones (causing more cautious contingent cooperators to grow faster than less cautious ones) - thereby destabilizing behavior within the contingently cooperative sub-population. Eventually, such instability might lead all the continent cooperators to become totally cautious and thereby never cooperate. Similar "unraveling" within a given sub-population is possible in many game theory models (an unsolved issue in standard literature).

Dr. Heiner has developed a more general version of signal detection theory - allowing for simultaneously shifting signal distributions - caused by choosing to detect signals more cautiously, as noted above. On the other hand, standard signal detection theory assumes players' signal distributions remain fixed as they vary their degree of caution in detecting signals.

The generalized signal detection analysis implies 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. So 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.

Dr. Heiner is finishing revisions from the editor's comments, about the generalized signal detection analysis, and the resulting implications that establish stable cooperation (within the contingently cooperative sub-population) in one-shot prisoners' dilemmas.


Lisa Hill-Corley

Lisa Hill-Corley supports the main resident faculty at Carow Hall with administrative, visitor, and office manager tasks. Mrs. Hill-Corley also manages the main budget and grants for the Center, as well as the Wednesday Public Choice Seminar Series and the website. In addition, Mrs. Hill-Corley coordinated the graduate funding for all of the Economics Department in 2016-2017.

Mrs. Hill-Corley also coordinated another successful Outreach Conference in June 2017. This year's conference returned to the Hyatt Arlington in Rosslyn and welcomed 38 participants from 17 states and six countries.

Here's to another successful year in 2017-2018!


Noel Johnson

In 2016 Dr. Johnson published two papers. He also presented his working paper "Negative Shocks and Mass Persecutions: Evidence from the Black Death" at Yale University and in Montreal for the Colloque CIREQ d'economie appliquee. Dr. Johnson also presented the aformentioned paper at the Economic History Society Meetings (London) and the Southern Economic Association Meetings (Washington, D.C.). He presented an additional paper "Jewish Communities and City Growth in Pre-Industrial Europe" at the Economic History Association Meetings (Denver), at Humboldt University (Berlin), and for the IOEA Summer Institute (Corsica).

Dr. Johnson was pleased to sign a contract with Cambridge University Press for his book with Mark Koyama, Persecution and Toleration: The Long Road to Religious Freedom. The final draft was due in September 2017. He also presented parts of the book for IHS in their lunch seminar.

Dr. Johnson enjoyed being a visitor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem for two weeks where he worked with colleagues to complete a paper titled: "The Effects of Land Redistribution: Evidence from the French Revolution."

Dr. Johnson continues to be an organizer for the Washington Area Economic History Seminar. They were lucky to host talks at GMU from Joel Mokyr, Debin Ma, and Noel Maurer. He also continued to co-organize the bi-annual Economic History Workshop, which held one session in August and another in January; they were both great successes.

Finally, Dr. Johnson had a lot of fun being part of the plenary panel for the session on the "Legacy of Douglass North" at the Atlantic Economics Association Meetings in Washington, D.C.


Garett Jones

Garett Jones signed a contract for his next book with Stanford University Press, 10% Less Democracy: Why You Should Trust the Elites a Little More and the Masses a Little Less. In addition, his first book, Hive Mind: How Your Nation's IQ Matters So Much More Than Your Own, was published in Chinese. A review in Governance describes Hive Mind as "perhaps 2016's most important economics book, both for the development specialist and the general reader."

Dr. Jones also published a new coauthored article in a special issue of Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics; the paper provides experimental evidence that higher-IQ pairs of players are indeed more cooperative. An essay on recent developments in free-market alternatives to bailouts was published in a Mercatus Center volume, Rethinking Financial Regulation; and the interdisciplinary online magazine Evonomics published Jones' analysis of the vast empirical literature on how migration tends to shape institutions, titled: "Do Immigrants Import Their Economic Destiny?" The Evonomics essay generated substantial interest, including two mentions in The Financial Times.

Dr. Jones taught at George Mason's Korea campus in the Spring of 2016 and 2017, and while in Asia, he presented his newest theoretical paper, "Are the Global Benefits of Open Borders a Fallacy of Composition?" at the China Meeting of the Econometric Society and at the National University of Singapore. He also spoke in Estonia on the possibility for reform through high-skilled immigration, and wrote the article on the classic Stag Hunt game for the SAGE Encyclopedia of Political Behavior.



Mark Koyama

Mark Koyama had seven papers published or accepted for publication in 2016-2017, in journals such as the Journal of Development Economics, International Economic Review, Economic Journal, and Explorations in Economic History. He presented his work at various universities including Harvard, Brown, Northwestern, Rochester, Stanford, Rutgers, Hebrew University, Ben-Gurion, Hitotsubashi University, University of Mississippi, and Wake Forest. During the year he also presented his work at a number of conferences including the NBER Summer Institute, Barcelona GSE Summer Forum, and the Cliometrics Conference among others.

His research trips to Singapore (NUS) and Japan (Hitotsubashi University) gave him time to work with his co-authors on several new projects. Dr. Koyama was also the Program Chair for ASREC which was held in Boston in February 2017 and was extremely well-attended and successful.


Peter Leeson

Peter T. Leeson is the Duncan Black Professor of Economics and Law at George Mason University and the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism. He is also the 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 numerous articles in 2016, such as "Witch Trials" (with J. Russ) in the Economic Journal.

Dr. Leeson's latest book, WTF?! An Economic Tour of the Weird, uses rational choice theory to explain the world's most bizarre and shocking social practices. Steve Levitt calls it "Freakonomics on steroids," and Tim Harford says "It's one of most original books I've ever read." WTF?! will be published in October 2017 and is available for preorder on his website.

To follow his current work, press coverage of that work, or find his published papers, visit his personal website: www.PeterLeeson.com.


David Levy

David Levy's peaceful transition from working on Escape for Democracy to working on a documentary history of the Virginia School was interrupted by the remarkable attack, both personal and positional, on James Buchanan, friend and mentor, in Nancy MacLean's Democracy in Chains. This attack is embedded in what has become a very widely held view of neoliberalism in which it is acceptable to impose the economic theory of markets on people regardless of their consent. There are thinkers who do believe in such a doctrine. Thus, Thomas Carlyle in his 1849 "Occasional discourse on the Negro Question" inferred from the fact that the former Jamaican slaves refused to engage in an efficient means of producing spices, they ought to be re-enslaved. The immediate response from John Stuart, exactly what one would expect from a real liberal is that the issue is happiness and consent, not spice production.

As Mill said earlier in an entirely austere context, society can divide our resources as we wish, but the consequences will follow whether we wish them or not. When economists stopped doing history of economics, we left our past to the kindness of the enemies of economics. It took a long time to give context for the "dismal science" - the first appearance is in "Negro question" - no doubt it will take a long time to give context for "neoliberalism." Where we will start is with the 1963 secret report that led to the destruction of the Virginia School at the University of Virginia labeled the group "neoliberal."


John Nye

John Nye continued his joint research with teams from the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. That project has already produced a number of papers including two recent 2017 papers on prenatal testosterone (2D4D) and its effects on wages (Economics and Human Biology) and on educational achievement (appearing in Personality and Individual Differences). A different paper on "The Market for Illegal Goods in the Presence of Corruption," with Desiree Desierto of the University of Wisconsin, appeared in the Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics also in 2017.

Dr. Nye has begun a new long-term project on social mobility in Russia, joint with the Center for Institutional Studies at HSE Moscow and Greg Clark of UC Davis. Early reports on this project have been presented at the Economic History Association Meeting in 2016, the Higher School of Economics, 2017, and the 2nd International Congress of Comparative Economics, 2017.

Dr. Nye also published a short article on positional goods for Reason magazine, June 2017 that he plans to make the basis for a book on inequality and economic growth in the near future. He is also organizing a special conference in honor of Douglass North's work to be held at GMU in March 2018 with Barry Weingast of Stanford and Lee Alston of Indiana and jointly with the Mercatus Center.


Thomas Stratmann

Thomas Stratmann worked on several projects in public choice. He developed a field experiment analyzing the effectiveness of robocalls on voter turnout. His findings showed that contrary to previous work in this area of research, robocalls were effective in increasing voter turnout. He also continued his lab work on experimental public choice. In one of his experiments he studied whether voters are willing to incur the cost of voting to simply punish incumbents who did not keep their election promises. In another experiment, he studied whether there is evidence of "amoral" behavior when voters have a more-than-proportional vote on committees.

Using field data, Dr. Stratmann also studied the impact of interest group pressure on state regulatory behavior, analyzing Certificate of Need Laws in health care. He also had an active research agenda in the area of law and economics. He studied the effect of new technologies such as improved 911 response times due to cell phones. During the previous academic year, Dr. Stratmann published articles in areas of public choice and applied microeconomics.


Yong Yoon

Yong Yoon has been continuing to work on three areas of his research agenda: increasing returns, anticommons and applying economic theory to the transformation of Japan and other nations by Western thoughts.

Dr. Yoon's paper "Buchanan on Increasing Returns and Anticommons" appears in the journal Constitutional Public Economy, 23(3). He presented "Federalism and Anticommons" (with Richard Wagner) at the Public Choice meetings in New Orleans in March 2016.

From May 22, 2017 through June 19, 2017 Dr. Yong was a visiting professor at Keio University, during which he gave a seminar at Keio Economic Society. Based on his research at Keio, he is working on a draft "Liberalism in Japan."

His working papers include "Monopsony in Anticommons," which analyzes the monopsony power of the innovators, and "Fukuzawa Yukichi: Liberalism in Japan."

From June 22, 2017 through July 13, 2017, Dr. Yoon gave four lectures on the "Political Economy of the modern Japan."