The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas—bridging the gap between academic ideas and real-world problems.
A university-based research center, Mercatus advances knowledge about how markets work to improve people’s lives by training graduate students, conducting research, and applying economics to offer solutions to society’s most pressing problems.
Our mission is to generate knowledge and understanding of the institutions that affect the freedom to prosper and to find sustainable solutions that overcome the barriers preventing individuals from living free, prosperous, and peaceful lives.
Founded in 1980, the Mercatus Center is located on George Mason University’s Arlington campus.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Mercatus Center?
The Mercatus Center is a university-based research center dedicated to bridging the gap between academic research and public policy problems.
What does Mercatus mean and how is it pronounced?
Mercatus is derived from the Latin word for markets. Mercatus is pronounced mər- kā- təs.
What does the Mercatus Center do?
Mercatus researchers conduct research, work with graduate students to apply ideas to problems in the world, and make research findings available to the media and public policy makers to connect academic learning with real world practice.
Mercatus research, as our name implies, is focused on how markets solve problems.
Our goal is to bridge the gap between academic research and public policy problems, to advance an understanding of the economics of public policy. We do this through education (graduate student training), research (peer reviewed academic publications and policy studies), and outreach (media, testimony, and lectures).
More specifically, Mercatus scholars conduct their own research regarding which institutions (markets, governments, non profits—or some combinations of the three) promote the best social outcomes.
Through our visiting scholars program, academic seminars and workshops, and participation in professional academic association meetings, we encourage a lively and interdisciplinary engagement with our research.
Mercatus’s “economic toolkit” draws from Nobel Laureates Friedrich Hayek, Elinor Ostrom, Douglass North, and GMU’s own James Buchanan and Vernon Smith.
The topics of study vary, from economic development in Africa, to rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina, to the 2008 financial crisis, to lessons from the history of the wine trade, to the rules that governed pirate ships, to the economics of government spending – and many in between.
Who runs the Mercatus Center?
Mercatus is led by a Faculty Director, appointed by the Provost of George Mason University. Tyler Cowen is a professor of economics at George Mason University and Faculty Director of the Mercatus Center.
How can students get involved with the Mercatus Center?
The Mercatus Center supports graduate students interested in understanding social change and in applying economics to solve problems in the world. Our graduate fellows work closely with Mercatus Center scholars, enjoy access to our rich network of affiliated faculty, participate in sponsored conferences, seminars, workshops and readings groups, and become actively involved in a learning environment where they can grow as scholars as well as policy analysts.
How is the Mercatus Center funded?
The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization and is supported by foundations (58%), individuals (40%), and businesses (2%) from across the country. Mercatus does not receive financial support from George Mason University or any federal, state, or local government.
How can I make a donation to the Mercatus Center?
Visit our donation page to learn about the many ways to support the Mercatus Center.
Why should I donate to the Mercatus Center?
Mercatus relies upon the generosity of supporters who value economic research grounded in real world problems.
Mercatus brings good ideas from academics around the world to people in government. Over 30% of our budget supports George Mason University professors and the graduate students who have the potential to become tomorrow's economics professors and policy experts.
Your generosity today can help Mercatus work to bring about a freer, more prosperous, and peaceful society. Your support will help us inject sound economic thinking into policy debates at both the federal and state levels.
Does the Mercatus Center do directed or research for hire?
Mercatus scholars do not do directed research or research for hire. Researchers select their own projects and are committed to the highest standards of academic quality and credibility for our research procedures and products.
We ensure our standards through rigorous internal review, peer review, and a transparent process for selecting and undertaking research projects.
While the credibility of the research any organization produces should stand on the quality and reliability of that research alone, more is often necessary. Mercatus strictly adheres to a stated Policy Regarding Independence of Research.
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