James Buchanan

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James McGill Buchanan, Jr. (born October 3, 1919) is an American economist renowned for his work on public choice theory, for which he won the 1986 Nobel Prize in Economics. Buchanan's work opened the door for the examination of how politicians' self-interest and non-economic forces affect government economic policy.


Buchanan graduated from Middle Tennessee Normal School in 1940. He completed his M.S. from the University of Tennessee in 1941 and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1948.

Buchanan has long been a professor at George Mason University, and is a central figure in the Virginia school of political economy. Buchanan also held teaching positions at the University of Virginia (founding the Thomas Jefferson center), UCLA, Florida State University, the University of Tennessee, and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute (with the Center for the Study of Public Choice). Buchanan moved with the center to its new home at GMU.

Neoliberal ideologue


In an interview for the BBC series 'The Trap', Buchanan criticised the notion of the "public interest", asking what it is and suggesting that it consists purely of the self-interest of the governing bureaucrats. Buchanan also proposes that organisations should employ managers who are motivated only by money. He describes those who are motivated by other factors—such as job satisfaction or a sense of public duty—as "zealots".[1]


Resources, Publications, contact, Notes


List of publications



  1. The Trap: What Happened To Our Dream Of Freedom? BBC Press Office, accessed2007-03-11