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Barry R. Weingast

Ward C. Krebs Family Professor of Political Science Stanford University | Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution
Download Weingast's CV

Office Locations: Encina West 304 (Political Science); HHMB 147 (Hoover)
Phone: 650-723-3729; 650-723-0497
Fax: 650-723-1808

Mailing Address:
Department of Political Science
100 Encina Hall West
616 Jane Stanford Way
Stanford, CA 94305-6044
Link to the Political Science Department Website

Barry R. Weingast is the Ward C. Krebs Family Professor, Department of Political Science, and a Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution. He chaired the Department of Political Science from 1996 through 2001. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Weingast’s research focuses on the interaction of politics and economics, emphasizing the political foundations of markets, constitutions and democracy, and the political-economics of development. He has written extensively on problems of federalism and decentralization, legal institutions and the rule of law, regulation, and democracy.

Recent News

  • Elinor Ostrom Lifetime Achievement Award, The Society of Institutional and Organizational Economics (SIOE), June 2019. For sustained significant academic contributions to institutional and organizational economics.
  • Coming Soon! A book MSS on the politics of Game of Thrones tentatively entitled, “I Choose Violence”: The Game Theory Underlying Game of Thrones (with Sam Weingast and Philip Petrov). This book is at once an introduction to game theory and a systematic analysis of the politics underlying many of the major events in Game of Thrones. Along the way, we introduce a series of topics involving extensive form games, including: the notion of an equilibrium; various problems of cooperation, reneging, and credible commitment; the need for authoritarians to cultivate a support coalition of people, groups, and institutions that keep them in power; uncertainty and signaling, the logic of government predation and reneging; and, finally, the central importance of violence in shaping developing countries and preventing growth. Learn more about the book.
  • At 104, the number of my coauthors tops 100! The most recently added coauthor is Avshalom Schwartz who has been working with me on my “High Stakes” book arguing that we should consider the early modern political philosophers from Hobbes to Madison as political-economists of development. My gallery of coauthors.
  • My latest tribute to Douglass North “Douglass North’s Theory of Politics” (with Margaret Levi). PS: Political Science (2019). Visit my Tributes to Douglass C. North page.
  • Friedrich Hayek Lecture, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK, November 1, 2022.”
  • The Adam Smith Award for 2018. This award is the highest honor bestowed by The Association of Private Enterprise Education.  It is given each year to recognize an individual who has made a sustained and lasting contribution to the perpetuation of the ideals of a free market economy as first laid out in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations.  The recipient of this award must be an individual who has acquired an international reputation as an eloquent scholar and advocate of free enterprise and the system of entrepreneurship, which underlies it.  In searching for a recipient, APEE looks for someone who through his/her writing, speaking, and professional life, has focused attention upon the fundamental principles which are the bulwark of our organization.” Previous winners have included Nobel Laureates James Buchanan, Douglass North, Vernon Smith, and Elinor Ostrom.
  • Keynote Speaker, “Seminar on The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Institutions and Social Order,” Department of Economics, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, June 10, 2018. Keynote Speaker, “Seminar on The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Institutions and Social Order,” Department of Economics, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, June 10, 2018.
  • Keynote Address, “The Neglected Book III of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations.” Association for Private Enterprise Education, Las Vegas, NV, April 1, 2018.
  • Keynote Speaker, “Seminar on The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Institutions and Social Order,” Antai College of Economics and Management, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China, June 15, 2018.
  • Eli F. Heckscher Lecture, “Reconstructing Adam Smith’s Politics.” Stockholm School of Economics; organized in cooperation with the Swedish research institute, Ratio, September 21, 2017.

Representative published papers include the following:

  • “Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in 17th Century England” (with Douglass C. North). Journal of Economic History. (December 1989) 49: 803-32.
  •  “The Economic Role of Political Institutions: Market-Preserving Federalism and Economic Development.” Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization (Spring 1995) 11: 1-31.
  •  “The Industrial Organization of Congress; or Why Legislatures, Like Firms, Are Not Organized as Markets” (with William J. Marshall), Journal of Political Economy 96 (February 1988): 132-63.
  •  “The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics” (with Kenneth A. Shepsle and Christopher Johnsen). Journal of Political Economy 89 (August 1981), pp. 642-664.
  •  “Bureaucratic Discretion or Congressional Control? Regulatory Policymaking by the FTC” (with Mark J. Moran). Journal of Political Economy 91 (October 1983), pp. 765-800.
  •  “The Political Foundations of Democracy and the Rule of Law.” American Political Science Review (June 1997) 91: 245-63.
  • “Federalism as a Commitment to Preserving Market Incentives” (with Yingyi Qian), Journal of Economic Perspectives (Fall 1997) 11: 83-92.
  • “Administrative Procedures as Instruments of Political Control” (McNollgast — with Mathew D. McCubbins and Roger G. Noll), Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization 3 (Fall 1987): 243-77.
  • “Structure and Process, Politics and Policy: Administrative Arrangements and the Political Control of Agencies” (McNollgast — with Mathew D. McCubbins and Roger Noll), Virginia Law Review 75 (March 1989): 431-82.
  •  “The Role of Institutions in the Revival of Trade: The Medieval Law Merchant, Private Judges, and the Champagne Fairs” (with Paul R. Milgrom and Douglass C. North) Economics and Politics (March 1990) 2: 1-23.
  •  “Federalism, Chinese Style: The Political Basis for Economic Success in China” (with Gabriella Montinola and Yingyi Qian), World Politics (October, 1995) 48: 50-81.
  • “Regional decentralization and fiscal incentives: Federalism, Chinese style” (with Hehui Jin and Yingyi Qian) Journal of Public Economics (2005) 89(9): 1719-1742.
  • “Coordination, commitment, and enforcement: The case of the merchant guild” (with Avner Greif and Paul Milgrom), Journal of Political Economy (1994) 102: 745-776.
  • “Second generation fiscal federalism: The implications of fiscal incentives” Journal of Urban Economics (2009) 65(3): 279-293.
  • “The institutional foundations of committee power“ (with Kenneth A. Shepsle), American Political Science Review (1987) 81: 85-104.
  • “The Positive Political Theory of Legislative History: New Perspectives on the 1964 Civil Rights Act and its Interpretation” (with Daniel B. Rodriguez). University of Pennsylvania Law Review (April, 2003) 151(4): 1417-1542.
  • “What is Law? A Coordination Model of the Characteristics of Legal Order” (with Gillian K. Hadfield) Journal of Legal Analysis. (2012) 4(1): 1-44.
  • “Self-Enforcing Constitutions: With An Application to Democratic Stability in America’s First Century” (with Sonia Mittal). Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization (2013) 29(2): 278-302.
  • “Rationality, Inaccurate Mental Models, and Self-Confirming Equilibrium: A New Understanding of the American Revolution” (with Rui J.P. de Figueiredo, Jr., and Jack Rakove) Journal of Theoretical Politics (Oct. 2006) 18: 384-415.
  • “Self-Enforcing Federalism,” (with Rui J.P. de Figueiredo, Jr.). Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization. (April, 2005) 21: 103-35.

Among Weingast’s books are:

  • Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History (with Douglass C. North and John Joseph Wallis). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
  • Korean Political and Economic Development: Crisis, Security, and Institutional Rebalancing (with Jongryn Mo). Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Asia Center, 2013.
  • In the Shadow of Violence: The Problem of Development for Limited Access Order Societies  (with Douglass C. North, John Joseph Wallis, and Steven B. Webb). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
  • Analytic Narratives (with Robert H. Bates, Avner Greif, Margaret Levi, and Jean-Laurent Rosenthal). Princeton University Press, 1998.
  • The Oxford Handbook of Political Economy (editor, with Donald Wittman), Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Preferences and Situations: Points of Contact between Historical and Rational Choice Institutionalisms (editor, with Ira Katznelson). New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2005.

A complete list of his books

Weingast has received numerous awards, including:

  • Member, National Academy of Sciences.
  • The James L. Barr Memorial Prize in Public Economics, 1981;
  • The William H. Riker Prize in Political Science, 2006;
  • The Heinz Eulau Prize (with Kenneth Shepsle) for the best paper of the year in the American Political Science Review, 1987;
  • The Franklin L. Burdette Pi Sigma Alpha Award (with Kenneth Schultz) for the best paper presented at the Annual Meetings of the American Political Science Association, 1994;
  • Duncan Black Prize for the best paper of the year in Public Choice (with Kenneth A. Shepsle), 1981;
  • Daniel Elazar Award for Distinguished Scholarly Contributions to the Study of Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations, 2012;
  • Distinguished Scholar Award in Public Policy, Martin School of Public Policy, University of Kentucky, 2001;
  • Mary Parker Follett Prize for the best paper in politics and history published in 1994 (with Charles Stewart);
  • Mary Parker Follett Prize for the best paper in politics and history published in 1998;
  • Adam Smith Award, 2018, the Association for Free Enterprise Education;
  • Elinor Ostrom Lifetime Achievement Award (2019);