Barry R. Weingast

Senior Fellow
Awards and Honors:
American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Barry R. Weingast is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Ward C. Krebs Family Professor in the Department of Political Science at Stanford University. He received a BS from the University of California, Santa Cruz (mathematics, 1974), and completed his PhD in economics at Caltech (1977). Weingast served as chair of Stanford’s Department of Political Science from 1996 through 2001.

Weingast is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has won numerous awards, including the James L. Barr Memorial Prize in Public Economics, the Duncan Black Prize for the best paper of the year on public choice (with Kenneth Shepsle), the Heinz Eulau Prize for best paper in the American Political Science Review (with Kenneth Shepsle), the Mary Parker Follett Prize for the best paper in politics and history (twice, once with Charles Stewart); the Distinguished Scholar Award in Public Policy from the Martin School of Public Policy at the University of Kentucky, the Franklin L. Burdette Pi Sigma Alpha Award (with Kenneth Schultz), and the William H. Riker Prize in recognition of scholarly achievement in political science.

Weingast has written extensively on the political economy of development, federalism, legal institutions and the rule of law, and democracy. He is author of

  • Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History (with Douglass North and John Wallis, 2009, Cambridge University Press)
  • Editor (with Donald Wittman) of The Handbook of Political Economy (Oxford University Press, 2006)
  • “The Industrial Organization of Congress” (with William Marshall), Journal of Political Economy (1988)
  • "Structure and Process, Politics and Policy: Administrative Arrangements and the Political Control of Agencies" (with Mathew McCubbins and Roger Noll) Virginia Law Review (1989)
  • "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in 17th Century England" (with Douglass North), Journal of Economic History (1989)
  • "The Economic Role of Political Institutions: Market-Preserving Federalism and Economic Development," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization (1995)
  • “The Political Foundations of Democracy and the Rule of Law," American Political Science Review (1997)
  • "Second Generation Fiscal Federalism: The Implications of Fiscal Incentives," Journal of Urban Economics (2009)

Filter By:



Recent Commentary

Douglass C. North
Analysis and Commentary

Douglass North Was A Visionary

by Margaret Levi, Barry R. Weingastvia The Washington Post
Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Douglass North, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in economics, was perhaps the single most influential economist of institutions. His work on economic history, and his ideas about economic development have shaped intellectual argument across the social sciences and had an important influence on public policy. Douglass North died last month.


Maverick Economist

by Barry R. Weingastfeaturing Douglass C. Northvia Indian Express
Friday, November 27, 2015

Douglass North emphasized institutions at a time when markets were the focus.


Legal Order: Lessons From Ancient Athens

by Barry R. Weingast, Gillian K. Hadfield, Federica Carugativia Oxford University Press (Blog)
Monday, October 5, 2015

How do large-scale societies achieve cooperation? Since Thomas Hobbes’ famous work, Leviathan (1651), social scientific treatments of the problem of cooperation have assumed that living together without killing one another requires an act of depersonalization in the form of a transfer of individual powers to an all-powerful central government.


Weingast on the violence trap

by Russell Roberts, Barry R. Weingastvia EconTalk
Monday, August 12, 2013

In this podcast Russell Roberts, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and EconTalk host, discusses with Barry Weingast, the Ward C. Krebs Family Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, the roles of violence and the threat of violence in maintaining destructive economic policies that reduce growth and development.

Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History

by Douglass C. North, Barry R. Weingastvia Cambridge University Press
Sunday, February 1, 2009

All societies must deal with the possibility of violence, and they do so in different ways.

If Economists Are So Smart, Why Is Africa So Poor?

by Barry R. Weingast, Douglass C. North, Stephen Habervia Hoover Digest
Thursday, October 30, 2003

Despite an enormous inflow of foreign aid, most African countries today are poorer than they were a generation ago. What’s gone wrong? By Hoover fellows Stephen Haber, Douglass C. North, and Barry R. Weingast.

Elections in Iraq
Analysis and Commentary

The Dilemma of Reforming a Post-Saddam Iraq

by Russell A. Berman, Stephen Haber, Barry R. Weingastvia World Trade
Monday, March 24, 2003

To understand how Western political and economic systems might be transplanted into a post-Saddam Iraq, we need to understand what is "Western" about our culture, politics, and economics.

The Poverty Trap

by Stephen Haber, Douglass C. North, Barry R. Weingastvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, October 30, 2002

If economists are so smart, why are developing countries so poor? By Hoover fellows Stephen Haber, Douglass C. North, and Barry R. Weingast.

Russian Federalism: A Contradiction in Terms

by Barry R. Weingast, Rui J. P. De Figueiredo Jr.via Hoover Digest
Tuesday, October 30, 2001

The prospects for a stable democracy and a successful economy in Russia? Grim. Rui J. P. De Figueiredo Jr. and Hoover fellow Barry R. Weingast explain.

Before the Fall

by Alberto Diaz-Cayeros, Beatriz Magaloni, Barry R. Weingastvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 30, 2001

Despite being corrupt and unpopular, Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) managed to hold onto power for seven decades before opposition candidate Vicente Fox won the presidency last July. How did the PRI manage this feat? Alberto Diaz-Cayeros, Beatriz Magaloni, and Barry R. Weingast explain.