Any competitive process selects among qualities possessed by the competitors, and with different processes selecting for different qualities. While the competitive form is universal, the substantive qualities that are selected depend on the particular environment within which competition occurs.
This paper elaborates the notion of “crony capitalism” and advances an innovative approach to the analysis of the phenomenon in case, seen as a type of rent-seeking society. The argument leads to a pioneering attempt to elaborate an original theory of crony capitalism as a sui generis system.
This article uses rational choice theory to analyze oracles: media for divining answers to questions about the unknown. I develop a simple theory of oracles with rational agents. My theory explains oracles as institutional solutions to “low-grade” interpersonal conflicts—petty grievances and frustrations resulting from perceptions or feelings of personal offense—that government is unable to resolve.
Emily Chamlee-Wright and Virgil Henry Storr have contributed numerous papers on disaster response and recovery, relying on over 300 in-depth interviews conducted following Hurricane Katrina. Their edited book, The Political Economy of Hurricane Katrina and Community Rebound, is a collection of many of the key insights that came from the Mercatus Center Gulf Coast Recovery Project.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) involves the partial or complete excision of external female genitalia and other damage to the female genital organs. This paper develops the identity economics of FGM as a complement to the agency-cost explanation provided by previous rational choice theorists.
During his first presidential term (1885-89), Cleveland opposed the partisan “spoils system” in the civil service, private legislation to benefit particular constituents, federal disaster relief, and protectionism. Public choice theory provides an illuminating framework for examining the challenges he faced.
When it comes to helping poor people in the developing world, most people in the developed world act like homo economicus. They claim to care greatly about humanitarian crises in impoverished nations, but their behavior suggests they care very little.
The core of Doing Bad by Doing Good: Why Humanitarian Action Fails, is an analysis of the efficacy of a variety of state-led humanitarian efforts, including domestic and foreign aid projects. Through an examination of short-term disaster relief both at home and abroad, we find that numerous inefficiencies are likely to lead to a persistent misallocation of resources.
The most that an author can hope for is that others will read their work. An even greater honor is when readers take the time to provide thoughtful comments on the content of that work. I truly appreciate that the contributors to this symposium have not only taken the time to read Doing Bad by Doing Good (DBDG), but have also provided thoughtful observations on a variety of themes discussed in, or related to, the book. In what follows I offer my reflections on each of the articles in the volume. I separate my thoughts into several categories which align with the themes of the papers in this issue. Where multiple papers fall into a single category I provide sub-section by the last name of the author(s).
Knowledge and Coordination presents an argument that economics ought to be reconsidered and placed into the realm of the humanities, and that doing so will improve the rhetorical force of liberal arguments regarding both economics and morality. This paper argues that, despite the ambition of this project, the combination of the positive and normative leads to misunderstanding and weakness in both.
Mercatus PhD Fellow Vipin Veetil, along with Akshaya Vijayalakshmi and Srikanth Viswanathan, address Amartya Sen's criticism of cash-transfer programs such as education vouchers in the Wall Street Journal.
In Anarchy Unbound, Peter T. Leeson uses rational choice theory to explore the benefits of self-governance. Relying on experience from the past and present, Professor Leeson provides evidence of anarchy “working” where it is least expected to do so and explains how this is possible.