9 January: Tribute to James McGill Buchanan

9 January: Tribute to James McGill Buchanan

James McGill Buchanan (3 October 1919 – 9 January 2013) was an American economist, and one of the 20th century’s most influential economists who had a lasting impact on the study of government finances, political processes, and the subjective nature of costs. In 1986, He was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics.

Life and Career

He was born on 3 October 1919, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, U.S. He joined the U.S navy and served in the second world war. After the war, he attended Middle Tennessee State Teachers College.

Following his master’s at the University of Tennessee in 1941, he got his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1948.

From 1950 to 1969, he taught at several universities. From 1969 to 1983, he was a Distinguished Professor of Economics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and in 1983, he became an Emeritus Professor of Economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

Some of Buchanan’s most influential work which spans six decades of scholarly research include, Public principles of public debt (1958), The Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy (1962) with Gordon Tullock, the Demand and Supply of Public Goods (1968), Theory of Public Choice: Political Applications of Economics (1972), ed. with Robert D. Tollison, the calculus of consent with Gordon Tullock, The limits of Liberty (1975), Democracy of Deficit (1977) with Richard Wagner, The Power to Tax (1980) with Geoffrey Brennan, Better than Plowing and Other Personal Essays (1992), an autobiography; and Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative: The Normative Vision of Classical Liberalism (2005).

He also co-founded and was director of the Center for the Study of Public Choice (1969).

He died on 9 January 2013, in Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.


He won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1986 for developing the contractual and constitutional bases for economic and political decision-making.

OV Digital Desk