Tyler Cowen

Tyler Cowen

  • Holbert L. Harris Chair of Economics at George Mason University
  • General Director
  • Senior Fellow, F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

Tyler Cowen is Holbert L. Harris Chair of Economics at George Mason University and serves as chairman and general director of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. With colleague Alex Tabarrok, Cowen is coauthor of the popular economics blog Marginal Revolution and cofounder of the online educational platform Marginal Revolution University.

A dedicated writer and communicator of economic ideas who has written extensively on the economics of culture, Cowen is the author of several books and is widely published in academic journals and the popular media. He writes the Economic Scene column for the New York Times; has contributed extensively to national publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Money; and serves on the on the advisory boards of both Wilson Quarterly and American InterestHis research has been published in the American Economic Review, the Journal of Political Economy, Ethics, and Philosophy and Public Affairs.

In 2011, Bloomberg Businessweek profiled Cowen as “America’s Hottest Economist” after his e-book, The Great Stagnation, appeared twice on the New York Times e-book bestseller list. Columnist David Brooks declared it “the most debated nonfiction book so far this year.” Foreign Policy named Cowen as one of 2011’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers,” and an Economist survey counted him as one of the most influential economists of the last decade.

Cowen graduated from George Mason University with a BS in economics and received his PhD in economics from Harvard University.




TIME — Top Financial Blogs (2011)

The Wall Street Journal — The Best Economics Blogs (2010)



Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation (Dutton: 2013)

An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies (Dutton: 2012)

The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better (Dutton: 2011)

Good & Plenty: The Creative Successes of American Arts Funding (Princeton University Press: 2004)

Modern Principles of Economics, coauthored with Alex Tabarrok (Worth: 2009)

The Age of the Infovore (aka Create Your Own Economy: The Path to Prosperity in a Disordered World) (Dutton: 2009)

Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist (Dutton: 2007)

Markets and Cultural Voices: Liberty vs. Power in the Lives of Mexican Amate Painters (University of Michigan Press: 2005)

Creative Destruction: How Globalization is Changing the World’s Cultures (Princeton University Press: 2004)

Market Failure of Success: The New Debate, coeditor (Edward Elgar Publishing: 2004)

What Price Fame? (Harvard University Press: 2002)

In Praise of Commercial Culture (Harvard University Press: 2000)



George Mason University Economic Alumnus of the Year (2011)

George Mason University College of Humanities and Social Sciences Alumnus of the Year (2012)


Media and Other

Foreign Policy Top 100 Global Thinkers (2011)

The Economist Best Books of 2011 (The Great Stagnation)

Listed by the American Institute for Economic Research on their list of favorite economists under the age of 60 (16th), and as having the second-most popular blog on economics



TEDxEast — The Great Stagnation (2011)



TEDxMidAtlantic — The Great Recession and Beyond (2009)


Published Research

Working Papers

Robin D. Hanson, Tyler Cowen | Oct 2007
We review literatures on agreeing to disagree and on the rationality of differing priors in order to evaluate the honesty of typical disagreements. A robust result is that honest truth-seeking agents…
Tyler Cowen | Nov 2005
Tyler Cowen discusses what we should consider in the event of an avian flu pandemic.
Christopher Coyne, Tyler Cowen | Dec 2003
In this working paper, Cowen and Coyne analyze the array of relationships that take place in the reconstruction process--political, economic and social--by considering under what circumstances they…
Tyler Cowen | Sep 2003
This paper considers models of political failure based on self-deception. Individuals discard free information when that information damages their self-image and thus lowers their utility. More…

Policy Briefs

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Expert Commentary

Nov 06, 2015

The Affordable Care Act has generated an enormous amount of partisan rancor, but with more access to data, it is worth taking stock of how it has actually been working. We can safely say that the policy is costing less than anticipated, perhaps 20 percent less, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate, and that it has reduced the number of Americans without insurance. But the numbers also suggest that by some measures, the Affordable Care Act has had only a limited impact on economic inequality.
Sep 29, 2015

The behavior of Volkswagen has been heinous and the company and probably some of its executives deserve some serious punishments. Yet our reaction to the scandal is as illuminating as the misbehavior itself. We get much more upset when people do wrong out of deliberate fraudulent intent rather than through accidental negligence, or sheer inability to solve problems, even if the latter phenomena are often the greater risks.
Sep 28, 2015

Discussions of income inequality typically focus on how information technology raises the return to skilled labor, or on the rise of global trade, or perhaps on the way that politics skews power toward the rich and well-connected. But there’s another fundamental driver of income inequality: the improved measurement of worker performance. As we get better at measuring who produces what, the pay gap between those who make more and those who make less grows.
Aug 14, 2015

You are lucky enough to have some money to give away: It could be $100 or $1 million. Whether you are prepared to make a small donation or a big one, you would like to accomplish something good with it. But how do you evaluate the best way to deploy your money? Alas, economic research until now has offered little guidance. Nonetheless, a new intellectual and social movement — a loosely affiliated group of people who call their effort effective altruism — is encouraging donors to think more scientifically about philanthropy.


Tyler Cowen


Tyler Cowen | Sep 12, 2013
Widely acclaimed as one of the world’s most influential economists, Tyler Cowen returns with his groundbreaking follow-up to the New York Times bestseller The Great Stagnation.


Tyler Cowen | April 09, 2015
Tyler Cowen and Jeffrey Sachs discuss the resource curse, why Russia failed and Poland succeeded, charter cities, Sach's China optimism, JFK, Paul Rosenstein-Rodan, whether Africa will be able to overcome the middle income trap, Paul Krugman, Sach's favorite novel, premature deindustrialization, and how to reform graduate economics education.
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