Carl Menger Essay Contest

Submission Deadline Has Passed

The Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, in collaboration with the Foundation for Economic Education and the Charles Koch Foundation, is pleased to announce the fifth annual Carl Menger Essay Contest.

The purpose of the contest is to recognize and encourage undergraduate scholarship in the Austrian tradition and the broadly catallactic approach to social science which it represents, an approach common also to the Scottish Enlightenment of Smith and Hume, the French Liberal School of Say and Bastiat, the Virginia School of Buchanan and Tullock, the UCLA price theory of Alchian and Demsetz, and the Bloomington School of Vincent and Elinor Ostrom, among others. We invite essays that explore, advance, challenge, or apply the ideas of these and related schools of thought.



Three winners will each receive $500 conditional on attending and presenting at the Society’s meetings at the Southern Economic Association conference ( The conference is November 19-21, 2016 at the JW Marriott in Washington, DC. Accommodations will be provided at the conference hotel and the cost of the SDAE dinner will be covered. Winners are responsible for registration. Travel scholarships may be available.



The contest is open to undergraduate students and recent graduates from any discipline. Entrants must be enrolled in undergraduate coursework at some point during the 2016 calendar year, and must not hold a Bachelor’s or equivalent degree as of January 31, 2016. Those graduating at the end of the spring or summer are eligible. Former winners are not eligible. Former entrants are, but must submit new essays.



Essays must be the sole and original work of the entrant and not previously published. They should be in the format of a scholarly article, with any standard citation format. Essays may either be written specifically for the contest or arise from previous coursework (e.g., term papers, research projects, senior theses, etc.). They should be between 4,000 and 12,000 words long, including notes, abstract, and bibliography.



Any topic related to the themes addressed by the above or related schools of thought is acceptable. Those composing original essays are welcome to address any of the following questions that are of particular interest to the Prize Committee. These are merely suggestions:

1.   The relationship between income inequality and social outcomes have been debated extensively recently in the academic literature and popular press. How can ideas from the Austrian School address inequality?

2.   Among the oldest questions in economics is: why are some nations rich and others poor? How might the ideas of the late Gordon Tullock help to better answer that question?

3.   Private alternatives to government fiat currencies have been emerging on the market in recent years. What insights can the catallactic approach to social science bring to bear on this issue?



Essays should be submitted in .doc or .pdf format by June 1, 2016 using the online form here. The author’s name, address, email, phone, and school should appear only on the first page of the document so that submissions may be judged anonymously. Title and abstract should appear on the second page. Questions about the contest can be directed to Michael Thomas.



Three winners will be notified by June 30, 2016. In order to claim their prize money, they must register for, attend, and present their work at the SEA meetings. Winners must arrange their own travel and register for the conference (at the discounted student rate). Three nights’ accommodations at the conference hotel will be paid for by the Society. Presenting the paper at the conference is a key component of the contest, and thus those unable to attend in November are discouraged from submitting an entry.


Questions: If you have any questions please contact Michael Thomas or see the Download file flyer