Buchanan, James McGill, Jr.

Buchanan, James McGill, Jr., 1919–2012, American economist, b. Murfreesboro, Tenn., Ph.D. Univ. of Chicago, 1948. After teaching at the universities of Tennessee, Florida State, Virginia, and California, he was a professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (1969–83) and George Mason Univ. (1983–2012). He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his public choice theory that analyzes economic and political decision making. Arguing that public policy is often motivated by the self-interest of legislators and civil functionaries, leading to larger deficits and increased debt, regulation, and government size, he advocated reducing all of these. His theories influenced many contemporary conservatives. Buchanan was the author of more than 30 books, including The Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy (with G. Tullock, 1962) and The Limits of Liberty: Between Anarchy and Leviathan (1975).

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