Barry R. Weingast


Barry R. Weingast is the Ward C. Krebs Family Professor, Department of Political Science, and a Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution. He chaired the Department of Political Science from 1996 through 2001. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Weingast’s research focuses on the interaction of politics and economics, emphasizing the political foundations of markets, constitutions and democracy, and the political-economics of development. He has written extensively on problems of federalism and decentralization, legal institutions and the rule of law, regulation, and democracy.

  • Descriptions of Weingast’s current research can be found HERE.
  • Working papers can be found HERE.
  • Resting papers (i.e., papers I wish I’d published) can be found HERE.
  • Recent publications can be found HERE. 
  • His most reprinted papers can be found HERE.
  • Weingast’s “Caltech Rules for Writing Papers” can be found HERE.

Recent Events

  • The Inaugural Elinor and Vincent Ostrom Memorial Lecture, Barry R. Weingast, “The Violence Trap: Why Democracy and Rule of Law Fail in the Developing World.” Elinor and Vincent Ostrom Workshop, University of Indiana, Bloomington, February 11, 2015. An article summarizing the event and lecture can be found HERE.
  • Sir Douglass Myers Distinguished Visiting Professor (April 2015); and Dean’s Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series, “The Violence Trap: The Failure of Democracy and Rule of Law in the Developing World.” Auckland University, Auckland, New Zealand, April 23, 2015. An article summarizing the event and lecture can be found HERE.

Representative published papers include the following:

  • Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in 17th Century England” (with Douglass C. North). Journal of Economic History. (December 1989) 49: 803-32.
  •  “The Economic Role of Political Institutions: Market-Preserving Federalism and Economic Development.Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization (Spring 1995) 11: 1-31.
  •  “The Industrial Organization of Congress; or Why Legislatures, Like Firms, Are Not Organized as Markets” (with William J. Marshall), Journal of Political Economy 96 (February 1988): 132-63.
  •  “The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics” (with Kenneth A. Shepsle and Christopher Johnsen). Journal of Political Economy 89 (August 1981), pp. 642-664.
  •  “Bureaucratic Discretion or Congressional Control? Regulatory Policymaking by the FTC” (with Mark J. Moran). Journal of Political Economy 91 (October 1983), pp. 765-800.
  •  “The Political Foundations of Democracy and the Rule of Law.” American Political Science Review (June 1997) 91: 245-63.
  • Federalism as a Commitment to Preserving Market Incentives” (with Yingyi Qian), Journal of Economic Perspectives (Fall 1997) 11: 83-92.
  • Administrative Procedures as Instruments of Political Control” (McNollgast — with Mathew D. McCubbins and Roger G. Noll), Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization 3 (Fall 1987): 243-77.
  • Structure and Process, Politics and Policy: Administrative Arrangements and the Political Control of Agencies” (McNollgast — with Mathew D. McCubbins and Roger Noll), Virginia Law Review 75 (March 1989): 431-82.
  •  “The Role of Institutions in the Revival of Trade: The Medieval Law Merchant, Private Judges, and the Champagne Fairs” (with Paul R. Milgrom and Douglass C. North) Economics and Politics (March 1990) 2: 1-23.
  •  “Federalism, Chinese Style: The Political Basis for Economic Success in China” (with Gabriella Montinola and Yingyi Qian), World Politics (October, 1995) 48: 50-81.
  • Regional decentralization and fiscal incentives: Federalism, Chinese style” (with Hehui Jin and Yingyi Qian) Journal of Public Economics (2005) 89(9): 1719-1742.
  • Coordination, commitment, and enforcement: The case of the merchant guild” (with Avner Greif and Paul Milgrom), Journal of Political Economy (1994) 102: 745-776.
  • Second generation fiscal federalism: The implications of fiscal incentivesJournal of Urban Economics (2009) 65(3): 279-293.
  • The institutional foundations of committee power“ (with Kenneth A. Shepsle), American Political Science Review (1987) 81: 85-104.
  • The Positive Political Theory of Legislative History: New Perspectives on the 1964 Civil Rights Act and its Interpretation” (with Daniel B. Rodriguez). University of Pennsylvania Law Review (April, 2003) 151(4): 1417-1542.
  • What is Law? A Coordination Model of the Characteristics of Legal Order” (with Gillian K. Hadfield) Journal of Legal Analysis. (2012) 4(1): 1-44.
  • Self-Enforcing Constitutions: With An Application to Democratic Stability in America’s First Century” (with Sonia Mittal). Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization (2013) 29(2): 278-302.
  • Rationality, Inaccurate Mental Models, and Self-Confirming Equilibrium: A New Understanding of the American Revolution” (with Rui J.P. de Figueiredo, Jr., and Jack Rakove) Journal of Theoretical Politics (Oct. 2006) 18: 384-415.
  • Self-Enforcing Federalism,” (with Rui J.P. de Figueiredo, Jr.). Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization. (April, 2005) 21: 103-35.

Among Weingast’s books are:

  • Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History (with Douglass C. North and John Joseph Wallis). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
  • Korean Political and Economic Development: Crisis, Security, and Institutional Rebalancing (with Jongryn Mo). Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Asia Center, 2013.
  • In the Shadow of Violence: The Problem of Development for Limited Access Order Societies  (with Douglass C. North, John Joseph Wallis, and Steven B. Webb). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
  • Analytic Narratives (with Robert H. Bates, Avner Greif, Margaret Levi, and Jean-Laurent Rosenthal). Princeton University Press, 1998.
  • The Oxford Handbook of Political Economy (editor, with Donald Wittman), Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Preferences and Situations: Points of Contact between Historical and Rational Choice Institutionalisms (editor, with Ira Katznelson). New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2005.

A complete list of his books can be found HERE.

Weingast has received numerous awards, including:

  • The James L. Barr Memorial Prize in Public Economics, 1981;
  • The William H. Riker Prize in Political Science, 2006;
  • The Heinz Eulau Prize (with Kenneth Shepsle) for the best paper of the year in the American Political Science Review, 1987;
  • The Franklin L. Burdette Pi Sigma Alpha Award (with Kenneth Schultz) for the best paper presented at the Annual Meetings of the American Political Science Association, 1994;
  • Duncan Black Prize for the best paper of the year in Public Choice (with Kenneth A. Shepsle), 1981;
  • Daniel Elazar Award for Distinguished Scholarly Contributions to the Study of Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations, 2012;
  • Distinguished Scholar Award in Public Policy, Martin School of Public Policy, University of Kentucky, 2001;
  • Mary Parker Follett Prize for the best paper in politics and history published (twice): (with Charles Stewart), 1994; and 1998;
  • Member, National Academy of Sciences.