Douglas W. Allen

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Douglas W. Allen
Born (1960-08-15) August 15, 1960 (age 58)
InstitutionSimon Fraser University
FieldInstitutional economics, law and economics
Alma materUniversity of Washington (Ph.D., 1988)
Awards2014 Douglass C. North Research Award from the International Society of New Institutional Economics[1]

Excellence in Teaching Award, SFU 2009

Dean's Silver Medal, SFU 2000
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Douglas Ward Allen (born August 15, 1960)[2] is a Canadian economist and the Burnaby Mountain Professor of Economics at Simon Fraser University. He is known for his research on transaction costs and property rights, and how these influence the structure of organizations and institutions. His research covers four broad areas: transaction cost theory, economic history, agricultural organizations, and the family.

Allen has published 85 academic articles, of which 58 are in refereed journals.[3] In addition he has published "The Nature of the Farm" (MIT Press, 2002) with Professor Dean Lueck, and "The Institutional Revolution: Measurement and the Economic Emergence of the Modern World" (University of Chicago Press, 2012).

Allen's most cited academic work is "What Are Transaction Costs?"[4] Here Allen notes that economists traditionally had thought of transaction costs as mere frictions to market transactions. The problem with this conception is that these types of costs are purely neoclassical, and fail to violate the Coase Theorem. Allen brought together ideas in the property rights literature with those of transaction costs, to define transaction costs as those costs incurred from establishing and maintaining economic property rights. When these costs are zero, the Coase Theorem holds, when they are positive, the Coase Theorem fails.

In 2013 his work on the effects of same-sex parenting on children's educational outcomes received public attention. In one paper, using Canadian census data, he found that the likelihood ratio for children of same-sex parents graduating from high school compared to children from opposite-sex married families was below one.[5][6] He also found that child educational success in same-sex households depended on the gender composition of the household, something that was not found in all other family types. These findings were similar to those found in an earlier article by Allen, Pakaluk, and Price, which used the US census.[7] Both studies used large random sample data that give more credibility to his study.

In 2014, he testified as an expert witness in defense of Michigan's marriage laws. At the end of his four-hour testimony, plaintiff attorney Ken Mogill asked him: "Professor Allen, yes or no, are gays going to hell?" Allen replied: "Unless they repent, yes." Many in the press took this to mean that he believed that people who engage in homosexual acts will go to hell.[8] Allen has stated he was only referring to Luke 13:3 where Jesus stated all will perish (regardless of sexuality) unless they repent. The state of Michigan defended Allen's remarks, arguing that they did not taint the expert statistical conclusions he expressed in his testimony.[9] The judge in that case, Bernard A. Friedman, subsequently overturned the ban and concluded that Allen's research, along with the research of Professors Loren Marks and Joe Price, on same-sex marriage represented a "fringe viewpoint" and rejected the use of snowball sampling as a legitimate statistical strategy.[10][11]


  1. ^ "Douglas Allen wins award for The Institutional Revolution". News. Simon Fraser University. 2 September 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  2. ^ "Douglas W. Allen Resume" (PDF). Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  3. ^ "Douglas Allen CV" (PDF).
  4. ^ Allen, Douglas (Fall 1991). "What Are Transaction Costs?". Research In Law and Economics. 14: 1–18.
  5. ^ Editorial Board (6 April 2014). "A mom and a dad". Deseret News. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  6. ^ Allen, Douglas (2013). "High School Graduation Rates Among Children of Same-Sex Households". Review of Economics of the Household. 11 (4): 635–658.
  7. ^ Allen, Douglas; et al. (June 2013). "Nontraditional Families and Childhood Progress Through School: A Comment on Rosenfeld". Demography. 50 (3): 955–961.
  8. ^ Abbey-Lambertz, Kate (7 March 2014). "Gay People Are Going To Hell, Says Expert Witness In Michigan Gay Marriage Trial". Huffington Post. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  9. ^ Baldas, Tresa (6 March 2014). "Mich. trial witness: Unrepentant gays are going to hell". USA Today. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  10. ^ Hopper, Tristin (28 March 2014). "Canadian economist never knew he would become centre of a U.S. firestorm over his research on same-sex parenting". The National Post. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  11. ^ "Deboer Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law" (PDF).

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