Working Paper #61

An Experimental Investigation of Hobbesian Jungles


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.

  From Benjamin W. Powell
HOUSING AMERICA: Building Out of a Crisis
Could government's pervasive involvement in housing be related to the very real problems of affordability, availability, mortgage defaults and loans, and much more? If so, the appropriate policy response would be to significantly reduce, not increase, government involvement. In reassessing government housing measures, Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis is the authoritative and most comprehensive book available on resolving the housing crisis.