Infectious Diseases and Government Growth

May, 2021

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments around the world adopted a variety of policies expanding the scope of their power. Some of these effects are immediate and observable. Others, however, are not readily observable and only appear over time. We explore these long-run consequences with specific focus on how institutional changes can persist after a public health crisis ends, causing increases in state power. These changes have the potential to undermine the liberties of future persons and disrupt bottom-up, non-state processes of social coordination. We illustrate these dynamics with three historical case studies—(1) The bubonic plague in Cape Town, South Africa in 1901 and its influence on apartheid, (2) The emergence of modern zoning and urban planning in the United States in response to the cholera, typhoid, smallpox, and tuberculosis epidemics, and (3) Compulsory vaccination in response to the smallpox epidemic of 1902.


"Macroeconomics As Systems Theory" Book Panel

On this episode of the Hayek Program Podcast, we host our first book panel of 2021 on Richard Wagner’s book Macroeconomics as Systems Theory. This book examines macroeconomic theory from an analytical framework provided by theories of complex systems, in contrast to conventional theories founded on aggregation. In considering macro theory, Wagner contrasts the conventional approach of focusing on the national economy as a collection of aggregate variables with the social-theoretic approach of viewing macro variables as shaped through social institutions, conventions, and other processes. The panel is moderated by Peter Boettke and features:

• Abigail Devereaux, Assistant Professor of economics, Wichita State University
• Erwin Dekker, Assistant Professor of cultural economics, Erasmus University
• Will Luther, Assistant Professor of economics, Florida Atlantic University

Peter J. Boettke
Richard Wagner
Erwin Dekker
Calendar Date: 
Feb 24, 2021
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Emergence, Equilibrium, and Agent-Based Modeling

February, 2019

Nicholas Vriend (2002) asked whether F.A. Hayek was an “ace,” and answered affirmatively. By “ace,” Vriend meant someone who worked with agent-based modeling. To be sure, Hayek could not have worked with agent-based models because that platform did not exist when Hayek was developing his ideas about the distribution and use of knowledge in society. All the same, Vriend explained convincingly that Hayek could have made good use of the agent-based platform had it been available in the 1930s. To similar effect, we argue in this paper that James Buchanan could have made good use of agent-based modeling to carry forward his ideas about the value of taking an emergent approach to the explanation of economic processes.

Contrasting Visions for Macroeconomic Theory

October, 2017

DSGE modeling remains the workhorse of contemporary macroeconomics despite a growing number of critiques of its ability to explain the aggregate properties of an economic system. For the most part, those critiques accept the DSGE presumption that traditional macro data are primitive, causal data. This leads to a stipulative style of analysis where macro variables are explained in terms of one another. In contrast, we set forth an OEE framework for an open-ended evolutionary macroeconomics. Within this framework, systems data are not primitive, but are derived from prior micro-level interactions without any presumption that those macro-level derivations reflect systemic equilibrium among the micro-level primitive sources of action. We explore some contours of an OEE model by placing coordination games within an ecological setting where there is no agent who has universal knowledge relevant to that ecology of games.