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Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Intellectual Journey of Robert Higgs

From conventional neoclassical economist to laissez-faire radical

Robert Higgs has had a long and storied career as a scholar, teacher, and editor. After earning his Ph.D. in Economics at Johns Hopkins University in 1968, Bob held academic positions at the University of Washington (1968–1983), Lafayette College (1983–1989), and Seattle University (1989–1994). In 1994 he was named a Senior Fellow in Political Economy at The Independent Institute, a position he continues to hold. Bob was the Founding Editor of The Independent Review: A Journal of Political Economy in 1995 and served as the Editor of the journal from 1995 to 2013, overseeing all aspects of the journal’s content. He remains the journal’s Editor at Large.

Bob is the author of numerous books including: The Transformation of the American Economy 1865–1914 (1971), Competition and Coercion: Blacks in the American Economy, 1865–1914 (1977), Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government (1987), Against Leviathan: Government Power and a Free Society (1994), Resurgence of the Warfare State: The Crisis Since 9/11 (2005), Depression, War, and Cold War: Challenging the Myths of Conflict and Prosperity (2006), Neither Liberty Nor Safety: Fear, Ideology, and the Growth of Government (2007), Delusions of Power: New Explorations of the State, War, and Economy (2012), and Taking a Stand: Reflections on Life, Liberty, and the Economy (2015).

Bob’s career serves as a wonderful example for younger scholars seeking to be productive and influential teachers, scholars, and editors. Bob was the F. A. Hayek Distinguished Visiting Professor with the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University during the 2015–2016 academic year. I had the pleasure of talking with Bob about his background and evolution as an intellectual.

I also had the opportunity to ask Bob about his views on the central differences between Austrian economics and neoclassical economics. Austrian economics has had an important role in Bob’s intellectual evolution, and he has made important contributions to this tradition of thought.

You can find audio of my entire interview with Bob here:


This piece appeared on the author’s space at Medium

  • Chirstopher Coyne is Associate Professor of economics and Director of the Graduate Studies in economics at George Mason University.  He is a member of the FEE Faculty Network, North American Editor of The Review of Austrian Economics, and co-editor of The Independent Review.