Social Change Project

Social Change Project

The Social Change Project brings together a global network of interdisciplinary scholars whose research advances an understanding of social change—how societies transition and institutions support markets and progress.


Richard Wagner | Oct 25, 2013
This essay is written for a symposium on Luigino Bruni’s The Genesis and Ethos of the Market. That book identifies a tradition of Neapolitan civil economy that arose in the 18th century, and which the author opposes to the more familiar tradition of Smithian political economy. The difference in traditions is located in contrasting theories of society in which markets are situated.
Richard Wagner | Oct 25, 2013
James Buchanan’s Public Principles of Public Debt is universally associated with the claim that debt allows the cost of public activity to be shifted onto future generations. This claim treats a generation as a unitary and acting entity. While such treatment is standard fare for macro theorists who work with representative agents and societal averages in place of the individuals who constitute a society, such treatment conflicts with Buchanan’s Cost and Choice and, indeed, his entire oeuvre.
Lawrence H. White | Sep 2013
“Fragility” is the well-known property of being easily breakable, of failing under moderate stress. The opposite property is “antifragility,” a term coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2012a) and the title of his recent book. In this article, Lawrence White considers how we might achieve antifragile banking and monetary systems. There are reforms that can marginally reduce fragility, but the author argues that to achieve antifragility will require a serious turn away from “one-practice-fits-all” centralized regulation and toward a free market’s mixture of innovation and strict discipline. In banking it will require an end not only to “too big to fail” bailouts of uninsured creditors and counterparties, but also to other forms of taxpayer-backed depositor and creditor guarantees.
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.
Christopher Coyne, | Sep 2013
Led astray by Marxist and Keynesian dogma, the literature on the origins of the permanent war economy has overlooked a leading cause of the elevated levels of U.S. military spending since the end of World War II: the economic rents created by the federal government’s monopoly on national defense, and the pursuit of those rents by the labor, industry, and military lobbies. Although the permanent war economy benefits powerful special interest groups, it generates a significant negative externality by diverting resources from other, private uses.
Peter J. Boettke, Kyle O'Donnell | Aug 15, 2013
The authors argue that the only social responsibility of economists is to maximize their career advancement within the scientific community of economists, and that the appropriate target for criticism and reform is the institutional framework of the scientific community. Good science does not require “good” scientists, but good rules of scientific engagement that fosters the constant contestation of ideas through open, critical discourse among scientists. If there is a problem of the corruption of economics, the true source is not corporate and special interests, however, but the state’s capture and politicization of the discipline.

Speeches & Presentations


Omar Al-Ubaydli is an affiliated senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a senior fellow at the Bahrain Center for Strategic, International, and Energy Studies, and an affiliated assistant professor of economics at George Mason University.
Paul Dragos Aligica is a senior research fellow and senior fellow at the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Peter Boettke is the vice president and director of the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center as well as the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism and a University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University. He specializes in Austrian economics, economic history, institutional analysis, public choice, and social change.
Jack A. Goldstone is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center and the Virginia E. and John T. Hazel Professor of public policy at George Mason University. His primary research interests are economic growth in the global economy, the effects of population change on economic growth, the causes and outcomes of revolutions, and improving governance in developing nations.
Claire Morgan is the director of academic relations for Academic and Student Programs at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.


Lawrence H. White | October 15, 2013
When economic troubles strike, policymakers are eager to do something to try to help the citizenry. In this Learn Liberty video, Prof. Lawrence H. White argues that government doesn't necessarily know how to relieve economic woes, and in fact, often wastes and mismanages resources. Individuals in the market know better what they need in their circumstances, as economist Friedrich Hayek argued during the Great Depression.


Adam J. Hoffer | February 11, 2013
Adam J. Hoffer, researcher of the Size, Growth and Creation of the Sindustry discusses why certain states and municipalities tax products at different rates.

Recent Events

| August 30, 2012
The F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and The Independent Institute invites you to a book discussion on Professor Peter Boettke’s new book, Living Economics: Yesterday, Today , and Tomorrow.


Paul Dragos Aligica | Jan 2014
In this book, Paul Dragos Aligica discusses some of the most challenging ideas emerging out of the research program on institutional diversity associated with Elinor Ostrom and her associates, while outlining a set of new research directions and an original interpretation of the significance and future of this program.
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