BENSON, Bruce Lowell (Biography)


March 18, 1949, Havre, Montana, USA Current Positions

DeVoe Moore Professor, 1997-; Distinguished Research Professor, 1993-; Department of Economics, Research Associate, 1994-; Oversight/Advisory Board Member, 2000-; DeVoe L. Moore Center, Florida State University; Senior Fellow, Independent Institute, Oakland, California, 1997-; Associate, Political Economy Research Center, Bozeman, Montana, 1982-.

Past Positions

Professor of Economics, 1987-1993; Associate Professor of Economics, 1985-1987; Faculty Associate, Policy Sciences Center, 1987-1993; Florida State University; Research Fellow, Independent Institute, Oakland,California, 1991-1997; Associate Professor of Economics, Montana State University, 1982-1985; Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics, 1978-1979; Assistant Professor of Economics, 1979-1982; Associate Professor of Economics, 1982; Pennsylvania State University, College Park; Pacific Research Fellow, Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco, California, 1982-1990; Salvatori Fellow, Salvatori Center for Academic Leadership, Heritage Foundation in Washington, 1992-1994.


B.A., M.A., University of Montana, 1973, 1975; Ph.D., Texas A&M University, 1978.

Offices and Honors

Georgescu-Roegen Prize for the best article in the Southern Economic Journal, 1989.

Honorable Mention Runner-up, H. L. Mencken National

Book Award, 1991.

Ludwig von Mises Prize, 1992.

Board of Trustees of the Southern Economic Association, 1995-1997.

Professional Excellence Program Award, Florida State University, 1999.

The Journal of Private Enterprise Best Paper Award,1999.

Executive Committee of the Association of Private Enterprise Education, 1999-2001.

Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Award,2000.

Association of Private Enterprise Education Distinguished Scholar Award, 2001.

Vice President, Association of Private Enterprise Education, 2001-2002 (President elect, 20022003).

Editorial Duties

Co-Editor, Economic Journal Watch (a refereed on-line journal), 2001-; Associate Editor, Journal of Regional Science, 1988-; Associate Editor, The Journal of Drug Issues, 199 8-; Associate Editor, Review of Austrian Economics, 1998-; Contributing Editor, The Independent Review: A Journal of Political Economy, 1995-; Editorial Board Member, Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, 1997-; Editorial Board Member, Quarterly Journal of Libertarian Studies, 1999-; Member of the Comite Scientifique, Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, 2002-.

Principal Fields of Interest

Law and Economics; New Institutional Economics; Public Choice; Economics of Crime and Substance Abuse.

Selected Publications


1. American Antitrust Law in Theory and in Practice (Avebury, 1989) (with M.L. Greenhut).

2. The Enterprise of Law: Justice Without the State. (Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, 1990).

3. The Economic Anatomy of a Drug War: Criminal Justice in the Commons (Rowman and Littlefield, 1994) (with D.W. Rasmussen).

4. To Serve and Protect: Privatization and Community in Criminal Justice (New York University Press, 1998).


1. "Loschian competition under alternative demand conditions." American Economic Review, 70(December): 1980.

2. "Rent seeking from a property rights perspective." Southern Economic Journal, 51(October):1984.

3. "The political economy of government corruption: the logic of underground government." Journal of Legal Studies, 14(June):1985 (with J. Baden).

4. "The lagged impact of state and local taxes on economic activity and political behavior." Economic Inquiry, 24(July):1986 (with R. N. Johnson).

5. "The spontaneous evolution of commercial law." Southern Economic Journal, 55(January):1989.

6. "Integration of spatial markets." American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 70(February): 1990 (with M.D. Faminow).

7. "On the basing point system." American Economic Review, 80(June):1990 (with M.L. Greenhut and G. Norman).

8. "Basing point pricing and production concentration." Economic Journal, 101(May):1991 (with M.L. Greenhut, G. Norman, and J.B. Soper).

9. "Are public goods really common pools: considerations of the evolution of policing and highways in England." Economic Inquiry, 32(April):1994.

10. "Emerging from the hobbesian jungle: might takes and makes rights." Constitutional Political Economy (Spring/Summer): 1994.

11. "Police bureaucrats, their incentives, and the war on drugs." Public Choice, 83(April): 1995 (with D.W. Rasmussen and D.L. Sollars).

12. "An exploration of the impact of modern arbitration statutes on the development of arbitration in the United States." Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization, 11(October):1995.

13. "Deterrence and public policy: tradeoffs in the allocation of police resources." International Review of Law and Economics, 18(March): 1998 (with I. Kim and D.W. Rasmussen).

14. "To arbitrate or to litigate: that is the question." European Journal of Law and Economics, 8 (September):1999.

15. "Entrepreneurial police and drug enforcement policy." Public Choice, 104(September):2000 (with B.D. Mast and D.W. Rasmussen).

16. "Privately produced general deterrence." Journal of Law and Economics, 11 (October):2001 (with B.D. Mast).

Principal Contributions

M.L. Greenhut was Bruce Benson’s graduate-school mentor, and as a consequence, much of his early work was on spatial price theory. He also studied with Randy Holcombe, Steve Pejovich, and Eirik Furubotn, however, so he developed an interest in public choice and neoinstitutional economics, and over time these interests expanded. When David Theroux asked him to contribute to a volume on gun control, Benson began documenting private responses to crime (initially to demonstrate that the dominant causal relationship ran from crime to guns for protection). As he explored this issue, he realized that the assumption dominating economics, that government provides and enforces the rules of the game, was not valid. This led to The Enterprise of Law, a number of articles on private policing, "the Law Merchant," arbitration, and customary law, and another book, To Serve and Protect. This research continues, with a major focus on the evolution of law, and another with Brent Mast on the relationships between private security regulation, security market performance, crime, and the demand for public policing. A new research focus also emerged in the late 1980s as Benson and David Rasmussen started exploring the economics and politics of illicit drug policy. This ongoing collaboration has generated a number of articles and a book.

Next post:

Previous post: