Public Choice

, Volume 112, Issue 1–2, pp 115–136 | Cite as

On the Measurement of Rent Seeking and its Social Opportunity Cost

  • Russell S. Sobel
  • Thomas A. Garrett


Utilizing 4-digit industry data by county,we compare the allocation of resourcesacross industries in state capital areaswith noncapital areas. We are able toidentify which industries are expanded andcontracted relative to noncapital areas. Our results provide the first directevidence and measurement of the forgoneproductive activity resulting fromresources being reallocated toward rentseeking and interest group activity. Ourdata also allow us to measure total rentseeking, and also to isolate the extent ofindirect and in-kind rent seeking, whichcan account for part of the Tullockparadox.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Congleton, R. (1988). Evaluating rent-seeking losses: Do the welfare gains of lobbyists count. Public Choice 56: 181-184.Google Scholar
  2. Ellingsen, T. (1991). Strategic buyers and the social cost of monopoly. American Economic Review 81: 648-657.Google Scholar
  3. Harberger, A.C. (1954). Monopoly and resource allocation. American Economic Review 44: 77-87.Google Scholar
  4. Harberger, A.C. (1959). Using the resources at hand more effectively. American Economic Review 49: 134-146.Google Scholar
  5. Krueger, A.O. (1974). The political economy of the rent seeking society. American Economic Review 64: 291-303.Google Scholar
  6. Laband, D.N. and Sophocleus, J.P. (1988). The social cost of rent seeking: First estimates. Public Choice 58: 269-275.Google Scholar
  7. McChesney, F.S. (1987). Rent extraction and rent creation in the economic theory of regulation. The Journal of Legal Studies 16: 101-118.Google Scholar
  8. Mixon, F.G. Jr. (1995). To the capitol, driver: Limousine services as a rent seeking device in sate capital cities. Rivista Internazionale di Scienze Ecnomiche e Commerciali 42: 663-670.Google Scholar
  9. Mixon, F.G. Jr., Laband, D.N. and Ekelund, R.B. Jr. (1994). Rent seeking and hidden in-kind resource distortion: Some empirical evidence. Public Choice 78: 171-185.Google Scholar
  10. Posner, R.A. (1975). The social costs of monopoly and regulation. Journal of Political Economy 83: 807-827.Google Scholar
  11. Sollars D.L. (1996). Rent seeking in state capitals, 1950-1990. Unpublished manuscript, Auburn University at Montgomery.Google Scholar
  12. Tollison, R.D. (1982). Rent seeking: A survey. Kyklos 35: 575-602.Google Scholar
  13. Tullock, G. (1967). The welfare cost of tariffs, monopolies, and theft. Western Economic Journal 5: 224-232.Google Scholar
  14. Tullock, G. (1980). Efficient rent seeking. In J.M. Buchanan, R.D. Tollison and G. Tullock (Eds.), Toward a theory of the rent seeking society, 97-112. College Station: Texas A&M Press.Google Scholar
  15. Tullock, G. (1989). The economics of special privilege and rent seeking. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  16. Tullock, G. (1993). Rent seeking. Hants, England: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.Google Scholar
  17. Tullock, G. (1997). Where is the rectangle? Public Choice 91: 149-159.Google Scholar
  18. Tullock, G. (1998). Which rectangle? Public Choice 96: 405-410.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Russell S. Sobel
    • 1
  • Thomas A. Garrett
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownU.S.A.
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural EconomicsKansas State UniversityManhattanU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations