Public Choice Economics

Please select the video you would like to view from the options listed below.

We have also made this playlist available on our YouTube channel. You can review the PPE Capstone syllabus here.

Video 1—What is Public Choice Theory?Prof. Geoffrey Brennan
What is public choice theory-PPE

The standard definition of Public Choice is that it’s the application of economic methods to the study of political processes. In this video, Professor Geoffrey Brennan explains what that means, giving insight into the origin of public choice theory, and why it’s such a powerful tool for examining public policy and political institutions. Watch video …

Video 2—Rent SeekingProf. Michael Munger
Rent Seeking-PPE

In economics, “rents” are benefits created by the government. In this video, Professor Michael Munger explains how “rent-seeking”- the competition for government benefits (such as subsidies) by special interest groups and businesses- is harmful for society. Watch video …

Video 3—BureaucracyProf. Michael Munger

In order to understand government, you need to understand bureaucracy. Because as Professor Michael Munger explains, bureaucracy IS government; there’s no other way for government to work. Unlike the private sector, the effectiveness of bureaucracies can’t be judged based on profits, and people can’t take their business elsewhere if they’re unhappy with performance. Public choice offers insights about the limits of bureaucracy and government. Watch video …

Video 4—Special Interest GroupsProf. Michael Munger
Special Interest Groups-PPE

Why is politics dominated by special interest groups? Professor Michael Munger shares key insights from public choice, which help explain why small, well-organized groups have an outsized impact on our democracy, even when they are pursuing policies that are against the interests of the vast majority of people. Watch video …

Video 5—Expressive VotingProf. Geoffrey Brennan
Expressive Voting-PPE

When you vote in an election, what are you really doing? In this video, Professor Geoffrey Brennan challenges students to question standard assumptions about what voters are doing when they vote. He argues that voters don’t actually choose candidates, since a single vote almost never determines the outcome of an election. Each vote, by itself, is more like cheering for a sports team, which has important implications for the workings of democratic politics. Watch video …