Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

James M. Buchanan, Public Choice, and the Political Economy of Desegregation

61 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2017 Last revised: 2 Dec 2017

Phillip W. Magness

Berry College - Department of Economics; George Mason University - School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs

Art Carden

Brock School of Business, Samford University; Independent Institute

Vincent Geloso

Texas Tech University

Date Written: November 15, 2017

Abstract

Recent historical works, most notably the book 'Democracy in Chains,' advance the claim that 1986 Nobel Laureate James M. Buchanan developed his formative contributions to political economy amidst the segregationist response to the Brown v. Board of Education decision. This argument accordingly holds that the research agenda of public choice economics emerged from an opportunistic alliance with Virginia's "Massive Resistance" to school integration, and should be situated within the racially tinged tradition of southern conservatism. While Buchanan wrote very little on the economics of race, an extensive review of archival evidence as well as his published works conclusively refutes this claimed association. Buchanan's intellectual associations with Frank Knight, W.H. Hutt, and other economists who worked within anti-racist frameworks suggest that Buchanan did not see anything of value in segregation, even as a political vehicle for advancing his agenda. To the contrary, we show that Buchanan held an antipathetic view of segregation and believed that the competitive processes of an educational voucher system would undermine the "Massive Resistance" status quo. We accordingly reject the primary thesis of Democracy in Chains as the product of unsound and grossly misinformed research, and offer an alternative assessment of the position of race in the origins of public choice theory.

Keywords: Public Choice, James M. Buchanan, Segregation

JEL Classification: D7, J15, B31

Suggested Citation

Magness, Phillip W. and Carden, Art and Geloso, Vincent, James M. Buchanan, Public Choice, and the Political Economy of Desegregation (November 15, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3071403

Phillip Magness (Contact Author)

Berry College - Department of Economics ( email )

Mount Berry, GA 30149
United States

George Mason University - School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs ( email )

Founders Hall
3351 Fairfax Dr.
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Art Carden

Brock School of Business, Samford University ( email )

800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, AL 35229
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.artcarden.com

Independent Institute ( email )

100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA 94621-1428
United States

Vincent Geloso

Texas Tech University ( email )

1901 University Avenue
Lubbock, TX Texas 79410
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
312
Rank
82,627
Abstract Views
2,851