|Born||1 February 1944|
|Field||Economic history, political economy, natural resource economics, health economics, military economics|
|Influences||Simon Kuznets, Douglass C. North, Ronald Coase, Joseph Schumpeter, Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, Murray Rothbard|
Robert Higgs (born 1 February 1944) is an American economic historian and economist combining the insights from Public Choice, the New Institutional economics, and the Austrian school of economics; and a libertarian in political and legal theory and public policy. His writings in economics and economic history have most often focused on the causes, means, and effects of government power and growth.
Participation in academia 
Higgs received his Ph.D. in Economics from the Johns Hopkins University and has held teaching positions at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, and Seattle University. He has also been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University. He held a visiting professorship at the University of Economics, Prague in 2006, and has supervised dissertations in the Ph.D. program at Universidad Francisco Marroquín , where he is currently an honorary professor of economics and history.
He is a Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute (since September 1994), and is Editor at Large of The Independent Review (since 2013, after having been Editor from 1995 to 2013). He is a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute.
The Ratchet Effect 
In his Crisis and Leviathan, Higgs first elaborated in detail on his ratchet hypothesis as part of a more general interpretation of governmental growth. Higgs aimed to demonstrate that contemporary models to explain the growth of government did not explain why growth historically occurred in spurts, rather than steadily. Higgs formulated the ratchet effect to explain this phenomenon. He theorized that most government growth occurred in response to real or imagined national "crises" and that after the crises, some, but rarely all, of the new interventions ceased. Crisis and Leviathan surveys the history of the American federal government from the 1880s to the 1980s, applying the ratchet effect to the period. He cites economic crises and wars as the chief sources for the growth of government, given the essential background condition of the ideological changes that came to the fore during the Progressive Era.
Daniel McCarthy praised Higgs and summarized his ratchet effect theory in a review of Against Leviathan that appeared in The American Conservative. In the review, McCarthy remarked that,
What made Crisis and Leviathan a milestone was the rigor with which it elaborated upon the logic of James Madison's 1794 warning against "the old trick of turning every contingency into a resource for accumulating force in government." Other political economists had studied the growth of state power during times of war, depression, and general upheaval before, but none had done so as thoughtfully and thoroughly as Higgs. He took special care in describing the "ratchet effect" — once a crisis has passed state power usually recedes again, but it rarely returns to its original levels; thus each emergency leaves the scope of government at least a little wider than before.
The Iraq War 
A vehement critic of the Iraq war, Higgs wrote in the Los Angeles Chronicle in February 2008 that only a high toll in casualties or economic hardship will end the Iraqi war, not cogent arguments. Higgs continued:
It follows directly that up to this point the continued prosecution of the war has served the leaders' interests. They may say they are trying to end the war. They may have secured their election or reelection, as many of the Democrats now serving in Congress have, by promising to do whatever they can to end the war. Yet the truth is that they've sold the public a bill of goods. When the leaders have considered all the personal consequences they expect to follow from acting to end the war, they have concluded that, all things being considered, doing so does not serve their interest, and therefore they have refrained from doing so.
Regime Uncertainty 
In a seminal article in the 1997 issue of The Independent Review, Higgs argued that the Great Depression was prolonged by uncertainty among investors about the security of their private property rights that stifled investment. Citing extraordinarily high risk-premiums on high-grade, long-term, corporate bonds, public opinion survey data, and other evidence from the period, he shows that extraordinary uncertainty among investors was a direct result of the myriad of programs of the Roosevelt administration established, the frequent changes of such programs, the hostile rhetoric of the president and other government officials, the decisions of federal courts, including the Supreme Court, and the anti-business sentiments of many high-ranking federal officials.  Higgs maintains that World War II merely masked the Great Depression, replacing one form of economic privation with another, and that genuine prosperity did not resume until 1946. 
- The Transformation of the American Economy, 1865–1914 (1971)
- Competition and Coercion: Blacks in the American Economy, 1865–1914 (1977)
- Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government (1987)
- Against Leviathan: Government Power and a Free Society (2004)
- Resurgence of the Warfare State: The Crisis Since 9/11 (2005)
- Depression, War and Cold War: Studies in Political Economy (2006)
- Politická ekonomie strachu ("The Political Economy of Fear") (Czech language; 2006)
- Neither Liberty Nor Safety: Fear, Ideology, and the Growth of Government (2007)
- Delusions of Power: New Explorations of the State, War, and Economy (2012)
As editor 
- Emergence of the Modern Political Economy (1985)
- Arms, Politics, and the Economy: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (1990)
- Hazardous to Our Health? FDA Regulation of Health Care Products (1995)
- Re-Thinking Green: Alternatives to Environmental Bureaucracy with Carl P. Close (2005)
- The Challenge of Liberty: Classical Liberalism Today with Carl P. Close (2006)
- Opposing the Crusader State: Alternatives to Global Interventionism with Carl P. Close (2007)
- "What Is the Point of My Libertarian Anarchism?" LewRockwell.com. LewRockwell.com 
- "Senior Fellow Robert Higgs." Independent.org. Independent Institute. 
- Cole, Julio. World Economic Growth, 1980–1999:A Growth-Regression Approach. p. 9. September 2003. 
- "Faculty and Staff." Mises.org. Ludwig von Mises Institute
- "Robert Higgs." Cato.org. Cato Institute
- McCarthy, Daniel. "Enemy of the State." The American Conservative. 9 May 2005. 
- Higgs, Robert. "The War in Iraq: 1,760 Days and Counting." Los Angeles Chronicle. 5 February 2008. 
- Higgs, Robert. Regime Uncertainty: Why the Great Depression Lasted So Long and Why Prosperity Resumed after the War. The Independent Review. 1997. -
- Independent Institute biography
- Liberty and Power Group Blog.
- LewRockwell.com archive
- Mises.org archive
- Los Angeles Chronicle
- Conversation with Higgs on the Great Depression
- In Depth appearance on C-SPAN2, Book TV