Working Paper #61

An Experimental Investigation of Hobbesian Jungles


     
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Hobbes’s state of nature serves as the analytical starting point for much of what economists have written on anarchy and the formation of government. Unfortunately little historical evidence exists about how men behaved in a “state of nature”, if such a situation ever even existed. We conducted a laboratory experiment to create a Hobbesian state of nature and observe the level of economic efficiency subjects achieve. We also investigate Buchanan’s conjecture that people would unanimously agree to a social contract against theft.
Benjamin Powell is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, Director of the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University. He Independent Institute books include The Economics of Immigration: Market-Based Approaches, Social Science, and Public Policy, Housing America: Building out of Crisis, and Making Poor Nations Rich.


  New from Benjamin W. Powell!
THE ECONOMICS OF IMMIGRATION: Market-Based Approaches, Social Science, and Public Policy
Few topics in current affairs are as contentious as immigration. Yet despite the controversies, social scientists who study immigration largely agree about its effects, whatever differences they may have about how a nation should change its policies. Their findings, however, have been buried in academic journals accessible only to other scholars—until now. With the publication of The Economics of Immigration: Market-Based Approaches, Social Science, and Public Policy, edited by Benjamin Powell, readers can now easily access the substance of the vast scholarly literature about a subject that touches millions of lives.