Special Interest Groups

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.

Additional Readings and Videos

Here are recommended readings and additional videos that could be added to a syllabus or lesson plan on this topic.

Books and Articles

Munger, Michael. 2017. “Three Reasons Why the NRA is So Powerful.” https://www.learnliberty.org/blog/3-reasons-why-the-nra-is-so-powerful/

Mitchell, William, and  Michael Munger. 1991. “Economic Models of Interest Groups: An Introductory Survey,” American Journal of Political Science. 35: 512-546. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2111373?seq=1

Denzau, Arthur, and Michael Munger. 1986. “Legislators and Interest Groups: How Unorganized Interests Get Represented.” American Political Science Review. 80: 89-106. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1957085?seq=1

Shugart, William. “Public Choice.” Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. https://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/PublicChoice.html

Olson, Mancur. 1965. Olson, Mancur. The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups. Cambridge: Harvard
https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674537514

Madison, James. “Federalist #10”
https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/carey-the-federalist-gideon-ed

Gordon Tullock, Arthur Seldon, and Gordon Brady Government Failure: A Primer in Public Choice, Chapters 3 and 4.
https://www.amazon.com/Government-Failure-Primer-Public-Choice/dp/1930865201

F.A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, chapter 5.
https://iea.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/files/Hayek%27s%20Constitution%20of%20Liberty.pdf

Erik J. Engstrom and Georg Vanberg, “Assessing the Allocation of Pork: Evidence from Congressional Earmarks”
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1532673X10369529