Peter Leeson

Peter Leeson

  • BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism
  • Duncan Black Professor of Economics and Law, George Mason University
  • Senior Fellow, F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

Peter T. Leeson is BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and the Duncan Black Professor of Economics and Law at George Mason University. He is also a Senior Fellow at the F.A. Hayek Program for the Advanced Study of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and North American Editor of Public Choice. Formerly, Leeson was Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, Visiting Fellow in Political Economy and Government at Harvard University, and F.A. Hayek Fellow at the London School of Economics. According to RePEc, Leeson is among the top young economists in the world. For links to his research, press coverage, and CV visit his website:

View PDF of Curriculum Vitae.

Published Research

Peter J. Boettke, Christopher Coyne, Peter Leeson | Sep 2013
Investigations of a society's competitiveness aim to trace the causal mechanisms behind patterns in wealth and poverty across societies. This paper argues that to be productive such investigations must be comparative, historical, and political economic in nature. Comparative historical political economy is how social scientists generate useful knowledge about the wealth and poverty of nations. Our contribution is a methodology – or rather a collection of methodologies – for understanding national competitiveness and attempts to improve it: one focuses on political-economic analysis, another on historical analysis, and a third on comparative analysis.
Peter Leeson, Claudia Williamson, Nabamita Dutta | May 01, 2013
This paper argues that foreign aid has neither the power to make dictatorships more democratic nor to make democracies more dictatorial. It only amplifies recipients' existing political institutions.
Peter Leeson, Diana Thomas | Jan 01, 2012
This paper seeks to examine how productive entrepreneurial activities, such as innovation, influence unproductive entrepreneurial activities, such as regulatory rent seeking. To investigate the argument the authors consider Bavaria's brewing industry in the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries using an analytic narrative approach.
Peter Leeson | Oct 11, 2011
This paper analyzes “constitutional effectiveness” – the degree to which constitutions can be enforced – in the system of government vs. the system of clubs. Professor Leeson argues that clubs have residual claimants on revenues generated through constitutional compliance, operate in a highly competitive environment, and permit individuals to sort themselves according to their governance needs.

Working Papers

Peter Leeson, Peter J. Boettke, Jayme Lemke | Jun 2011
We argue that wife sales were indirect Coasean divorce bargains that permitted wives to buy the right to exit marriage from their husbands in a legal environment that denied them the property rights required to buy that right directly.
Peter J. Boettke, Christopher Coyne, Peter Leeson | Mar 2011
The efficiency of “quasimarkets” — decentralized public goods provision subjected to Tiebout competition — is a staple of public choice conventional wisdom.
Peter J. Boettke, Christopher Coyne, Peter Leeson | Nov 2010
How should governments publicly provide goods and services?
Peter J. Boettke, Peter Leeson, Christopher Coyne | Oct 2010
This paper provides a critical challenge to the Whig view of economic ideas which hold that good ideas from the past are embodied in the common scientific wisdom.

Media Clippings

Peter Leeson | Mar 02, 2012
Outlet: Carolina Journal Online
Peter J. Boettke, Christopher Coyne, Peter Leeson | Feb 02, 2012
Outlet: Forbes India
Peter Leeson | Mar 04, 2011
Outlet: Forbes
Peter Leeson | Jul 27, 2010
Outlet: The New York Times

Expert Commentary


Peter Leeson

Research Areas


Christopher Coyne, Peter Leeson | Sep 15, 2009
Media, Development, and Institutional Change investigates mass media’s profound ability to affect institutional change and economic development.
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