My colleague James Buchanan — the 1986 Nobel laureate in Economics — celebrates today his 87th birthday. Thankfully, Jim is still intellectually vigorous. Among all living economists, his work is the deepest.
I first encountered Jim’s work during my undergraduate days at Nicholls State University. For nearly 30 years now I have read (and in many cases re-read, and re-re-read) Buchanan’s papers and books, always profitably.
Here are my ten favorite papers by Buchanan:
1) Order Defined in the Process of Its Emergence (Literature of Liberty, 1982)
2) An Economic Theory of Clubs (Economica, 1965)
3) Globalization as Framed by the Two Logics of Trade (with Yong Yoon) (The Independent Review, 2002)
4) Politics, Policy, and the Pigouvian Margins (Economica, 1962)
5) The Domain of Constitutional Political Economy (Constitutional Political Economy, 1990)
6) The Samaritan’s Dilemma (in E. Phelps, ed., Altruism, Morality, and Economic Theory, Russell Sage Foundation, 1975)
7) The Relvance of Pareto Optimality (Journal of Conflict Resolution, 1962)
8) Natural and Artifactual Man (in J. Buchanan, What Should Economists Do? Liberty Fund, 1979)
9) Politics, Property, and the Law (Journal of Law & Economics, 1972)
10) Classical Liberalism as an Organizing Ideal (in J. Buchanan, Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative, 2005).
Any list of ten favorite articles by a scholar as deep, as wise, and as prolific as Buchanan is bound to contain much arbitrariness. Still, each of these essays has had an especially powerful impact on my own thinking.