Georg S. Vanberg
Professor and Chair
Durham, NC 27708
Contact the President
Edward J. Lopez
Executive Director and Past President (2012-14)
Professor of Economics and BB&T Distinguished Professor of Capitalism
Western Carolina University
College of Business
Cullowhee, NC 28723
The Executive Committee consists of all living Past Presidents in addition to a rotating Board of Directors.
|Year(s) as President|
|James M. Buchanan*||Economics||1964|
|Gordon Tullock*||Law, Economics||1965|
|William H. Riker*||Political Science||1966|
|Vincent A. Ostrom*||Public Administration / Political Science||1967-69|
|Otto A. Davis*||Economics||1970-72|
|James S. Coleman*||Sociology||1974-76|
|Charles R. Plott||Economics||1976-78|
|Gerald H. Kramer||Political Science||1978-80|
|John O. Ledyard||Economics||1980-82|
|Elinor Ostrom*||Political Science||1982-84|
|Dennis C. Mueller||Economics||1984-86|
|Peter Ordeshook||Political Science||1986-88|
|Vernon L. Smith||Economics||1988-90|
|John A. Ferejohn||Political Science||1990-92|
|Melvin J. Hinich*||Political Science||1992-94|
|Robert D. Tollison||Economics||1994-96|
|Michael C. Munger||Political Science||1996-98|
|William A. Niskanen*||Economics||1998-2000|
|Bernard N. Grofman||Political Science||2000-02|
|Steven J. Brams||Political Science||2004-06|
|Randall G. Holcombe||Economics||2006-08|
|Nicholas R. Miller||Political Science||2008-10|
|Lawrence W. Kenny||Economics||2010-12|
|Edward J. Lopez||Economics||2012-14|
|Roberta Q. Herzberg||Political Science||2014-16|
Directors (Term of Service)
Peter T. Calcagno (2012-2015; 2015-Present)
Professor of Economics
College of Charleston
Keith Dougherty (2013-2015; 2015-Present)
Professor of Political Science
University of Georgia
Mario Villarreal-Diaz (2015-2019)
University of Arizona
W. Mark Crain (2016-2020)
Simon Chair of Political Economy
Roger Congelton (2016-2020)
BB&T Professor of Economics
West Virginia University
Past Directors (Terms)
Joshua C. Hall (2012-2016)
Associate Professor of Economics
West Virginia University
Georg Vanberg (2012-2016)
Professor of Political Science
Statement of Purpose
The goal of the Society is to facilitate the exchange of research and ideas across disciplines in the social sciences, particularly economics, political science, sociology, law, and related fields. It started when scholars from all these groups became interested in the application of essentially economic methods to problems normally dealt with by political theorists. It has retained strong traces of economic methodology, but new and fruitful directions have developed that transcend the boundaries of any self-contained discipline.The Society meets annually to facilitate scholarly inquiry and exchange of ideas on the range of topics included in non-market decision making. For more about the history of the Society, see the essay by James M. Buchanan below.
How to Join
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There is no formal membership aside from attending the annual conference and corresponding with each other throughout the year.
To reserve your space at the annual conference, click the Register tab above beginning October 1 of each year.
History of the Public Choice Society
Public Choice: The Origins and Development of a Research Program
[Editorial note: This essay was published in 2003 by the Center for Study of Public Choice. In the opening line of the essay, Professor Buchanan defines "public choice as a research program rather than as a discipline or even a subdiscipline." The brief excerpt below is from the section of the essay in which Professor Buchanan has just described the origins and background of The Calculus of Consent, and he next recounts the role that he, Gordon Tullock, and others played in founding the Public Choice Society and related organizations. The entire essay is provided at the link below.]
Our book was well-received by both economists and political scientists. And, through the decades since its publication, the book has achieved status as a seminal work in the research program. The initial interest in the book, and its arguments, prompted Tullock and me, who were then at the University of Virginia, to initiate and organize a small research conference in Charlottesville in April 1963. We brought together economists, political scientists, sociologists, and scholars from other disciplines, all of whom were engaged in research outside the boundaries of their disciplines. The discussion was sufficiently stimulating to motivate the formation of a continuing organization, which we first called the Committee on Non-Market Decision-Making, and to initiate plans for a journal initially called Papers on Non-Market Decision-Making, which Tullock agreed to edit.
We were all unhappy with these awkward labels, but after several annual meetings there emerged the new name “public choice," for both the organization and the journal. In this way the Public Choice Society and the journal Public Choice came into being. Both have proved to be quite successful as institutional embodiments of the research program, and sister organizations and journals have since been set up in Europe and Asia.
William Riker, who organized some of the early meetings, exerted a major influence on American political science through the establishment and operation of the graduate research program at the University of Rochester. Second- and even third-generation Riker students occupy major positions throughout the country and carry forward the research thrust in positive political analysis.
In the late 1960s, Tullock and I shifted to Virginia Polytechnic and State University, and in Blacksburg we set up the Center for Study of Public Choice, which served as an institutional home, of sorts, for visiting research scholars throughout the world. This center, and its related programs, operated effectively until 1983, when it was shifted to George Mason University, where its operation continues.
I shall not discuss in detail the institutional history of the society, the journal, the center, and related organizations. Suffice it to say here that these varying structures reflect the development and maturing of the whole research program.