Survey Article

Public Choice

, Volume 140, Issue 3, pp 503-538

First online:

Public choice and the economic analysis of anarchy: a survey

  • Benjamin PowellAffiliated withDepartment of Economics, Suffolk University
  • , Edward P. StringhamAffiliated withS.C. Davis Endowment, Trinity College Email author 

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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.


Anarchism Lawlessness Order Internalization of externalities Self-governance

JEL Classification

D74 H11 K42