Public choice and the economic analysis of anarchy: A survey

Benjamin Powell, Edward P. Stringham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

66 Scopus citations


Public choice economists began studying anarchy in the 1970s. Since then, the amount of research on anarchy has burgeoned. This article surveys the important public choice contributions to the economics of anarchy. Following early public choice economists, many economists are researching how individuals interact without government. From non-public-interested explanations of the creation of government to historical studies of internalizing externalities under anarchy, public choice scholars are arriving at a more realistic perspective of human interaction with and without government. Although the economics of politics receives more attention, the economics of anarchy is an important area of research in public choice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-538
Number of pages36
JournalPublic Choice
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jul 10 2009



  • Anarchism
  • Internalization of externalities
  • Lawlessness
  • Order
  • Self-governance

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