James Buchanan, the father of public choice theory and winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Economic Science, recently passed away at the age of 93. The MEI had the privilege of counting Mr. Buchanan among its Honorary Senior Fellows. The impact of his work on political science and economics will surely be felt for many years to come.
James M. Buchanan won the 1986 Nobel Prize in Economic Science. He is best known for developing the "public choice theory" of economics, which changed the way economists analyze economic and political decision making. Professor Buchanan's work opened the door for the examination of how politicians' self-interest and non-economic forces affect government economic policy. Professor Buchanan got his start with a B.A. from Middle Tennessee State College in 1940, followed by a M.S. from the University of Tennessee in 1941. After graduating from the University of Chicago with a Ph.D. in 1948, he held teaching positions at the University of Virginia, UCLA, and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Among the many influential books he has written are The Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy (1962) with Gordon Tullock; Cost and Choice (1969); The Limits of Liberty (1975); Liberty, Market, and State (1985); and his autobiography, Better than Plowing and Other Personal Essays (1992).