Tyler Cowen

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Tyler Cowen
Born (1962-01-21) January 21, 1962 (age 62)
Academic career
InstitutionGeorge Mason University
FieldCultural economics
School or
Neoclassical economics
American libertarianism
Alma materGeorge Mason University (BS)
Harvard University (MS, PhD)
Thomas Schelling
InfluencesChicago School
Carl Menger

Tyler Cowen (/ˈkən/; born January 21, 1962) is an American economist, columnist and blogger. He is a professor at George Mason University, where he holds the Holbert L. Harris chair in the economics department.[2] He hosts the economics blog Marginal Revolution, together with co-author Alex Tabarrok. Cowen and Tabarrok also maintain the website Marginal Revolution University, a venture in online education.

Cowen writes the "Economic Scene" column for The New York Times and since July 2016 has been a regular opinion columnist at Bloomberg Opinion.[3] He also writes for such publications as The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Newsweek and the Wilson Quarterly. He serves as general director of George Mason's Mercatus Center, a university research center that focuses on the market economy. Since 2015, he has hosted the podcast Conversations with Tyler.[4] In September, 2018, Tyler and his team at George Mason University launched Emergent Ventures, a grant and fellowship focused on "moon-shot" ideas.[5]

He was ranked at number 72 among the "Top 100 Global Thinkers" in 2011 by Foreign Policy Magazine "for finding markets in everything".[6] In a 2011 poll of experts by The Economist, Cowen was included in the top 36 nominations of "which economists were most influential over the past decade".[7]

Education and personal life[edit]

Cowen was raised in Hillsdale, New Jersey[8] and attended Pascack Valley High School.[9] At 15, he became the youngest ever New Jersey state chess champion.[10][11] Cowen is of Irish ancestry.[12]

He graduated from George Mason University with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics in 1983 and received his PhD in economics from Harvard University in 1987 with his thesis titled Essays in the theory of welfare economics. At Harvard, he was mentored by game theorist Thomas Schelling, the 2005 recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. Cowen is a teetotaler, stating he is "with the Mormons" on alcohol,[13] later stating: "I encourage people to just completely, voluntarily abstain from alcohol and make it a social norm".[14] He is married to Natasha Cowen, a lawyer.



The Los Angeles Times has described Cowen as "a man who can talk about Haitian voodoo flags, Iranian cinema, Hong Kong cuisine, Abstract Expressionism, Zairian music and Mexican folk art with seemingly equal facility".[15] One of Cowen's primary research interests is the economics of culture. He has written books on fame (What Price Fame?), art (In Praise of Commercial Culture) and cultural trade (Creative Destruction: How Globalization Is Changing the World's Cultures). In Markets and Cultural Voices, he relays how globalization is changing the world of three Mexican amate painters.[16] Cowen argues that free markets change culture for the better, allowing them to evolve into something more people want. Other books include Public Goods and Market Failures, The Theory of Market Failure, Explorations in the New Monetary Economics, Risk and Business Cycles, Economic Welfare and New Theories of Market Failure.

In 2023, Cowen falsely claimed on his blog[17] that Francis Bacon was a critic of the printing press, including fictional quotations and references he had gotten from ChatGPT.[18]


Cowen presenting his 2011 book The Great Stagnation

The New York Times columns[edit]

Cowen's New York Times columns cover a wide range of issues such as the 2008 financial crisis.[19]

Dining guide[edit]

His dining guide for the D.C. area, "Tyler Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide",[20] has been written about by The Washington Post[21] and Washington City Paper.[22]

Political philosophy[edit]

Cowen has written papers on political philosophy and ethics. He co-wrote a paper with philosopher Derek Parfit arguing against the social discount rate.[23] In a 2006 paper, he argued that the epistemic problem fails to refute consequentialism.[24]

Cowen has been described as a "libertarian bargainer" who can influence practical policy making,[25] yet he endorsed bank bailouts in his March 2, 2009 column in The New York Times.[26] In a 2007 article entitled "The Paradox of Libertarianism", Cowen argued that libertarians "should embrace a world with growing wealth, growing positive liberty, and yes, growing government. We don't have to favor the growth in government per se, but we do need to recognize that sometimes it is a package deal".[27]

In 2012, David Brooks called Cowen "one of the most influential bloggers on the right", writing that he is among those who "start from broadly libertarian premises but do not apply them in a doctrinaire way".[28]

In an August, 2014 blog post, Cowen wrote: "Just to summarize, I generally favor much more immigration but not open borders, I am a liberal on most but not all social issues, and I am market-oriented on economic issues. On most current foreign policy issues I am genuinely agnostic as to what exactly we should do but skeptical that we are doing the right thing at the moment. I don't like voting for either party or for third parties".[29]

In a 2020 New Year's Day Marginal Revolution post, Cowen outlined a philosophical framework he dubbed "State Capacity Libertarianism". State Capacity Libertarianism differs from libertarianism in that it acknowledges the state's role in funding and executing megaprojects and advocates a non-isolationist foreign policy.[30]

Cowen has described himself as a liberal on most social issues[29] and supports same-sex marriage.[31] After the Supreme Court issued its 2015 holding affirming the right of same-sex marriage, Cowen said that "this is exciting and very positive news. Most of all, it is a breakthrough for those people who can now marry, or exercise the choice not to marry".[32]

In July 2019, Cowen co-authored an essay in The Atlantic with Stripe co-founder Patrick Collison calling for a "new science of progress".[33]

In July 2023, Cowen joined "The Growth Commission", a non-partisan group convened by former UK prime minister Liz Truss to promote economic policies that promote growth.[34]

Conversations with Tyler[edit]

Conversations with Tyler is Cowen's podcast produced by the Mercatus Center at George Mason. Unlike Marginal Revolution, Conversations is hosted by Cowen exclusively. Guests are usually authors and academics, but have also included athletes (Martina Navratilova, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), military personnel (Stanley A. McChrystal), entrepreneurs (Mark Zuckerberg, Brian Armstrong), novelists (Emily St. John Mandel) and a homeless person from Washington, D.C. named "Alexander the Grate".

The show has two recurring segments:

  • "Underrated/Overrated", where guests are given a quick-fire list of cultural works or academic concepts and asked to say whether they agree with the general critical response received.
  • The [guest name] Production Function, where guests are asked to describe their personal productivity habits.

In describing the podcast, Cowen repeatedly characterises it as "...the conversation I want to have".[35][36]


Selected journal articles[edit]

Select articles[edit]


  1. ^ Illing, Sean (June 3, 2017). "9 questions for Tyler Cowen". Vox Media. Archived from the original on June 5, 2017. Who is the person who has most influenced the way you think? [...] More proximately, I would cite economics as a discipline and Plato's dialogic method for philosophy
  2. ^ "Tyler Cowen". Mercatus Center. George Mason University. August 15, 2008. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  3. ^ Tyler Cowen, columnist Bloomberg
  4. ^ "Conversations with Tyler | Listen to Tyler Cowen's Official Podcast". conversationswithtyler.com.
  5. ^ "Economist Tyler Cowen Launches a Fellowship and Grant Program for Moon Shot Ideas". TechCrunch.com. September 13, 2018.
  6. ^ "The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers (#72 Tyler Cowan:For finding markets in everything)". Foreign Policy. December 2011. Archived from the original on April 16, 2012. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
  7. ^ "Economics' most influential people". Economist.com. February 1, 2011. Retrieved June 30, 2012.
  8. ^ Rosenwald, Michael S. "Tyler Cowen's appetite for ethnic food – and answers about his life", The Washington Post, May 13, 2010. Accessed November 2, 2017. "Cowen is 48. He grew up in Hillsdale, N.J., an hour's drive from New York."
  9. ^ "Chess", The Ridgewood News, September 12, 1976. Accessed March 19, 2021, via Newspapers.com. "Tyler Cowen, 14, of Hillsdale, a freshman at Pascack Valley High School, trounced Ruth Cardoso of Jersey City, the state's women's chess champion."
  10. ^ "Interview with the Former "Youngest New Jersey Chess Champion," Tyler Cowen". Kenilworthchessclub.org. September 8, 2006. Retrieved June 30, 2012.
  11. ^ New Jersey State Champions 1946 – Present New Jersey State Chess Federation, Official Site
  12. ^ Haidt, Jonathan (March 28, 2016). "Jonathan Haidt on Morality, Politics, Disgust, and Intellectual Diversity on Campus (Ep. 8)" (Interview). Interviewed by Tyler Cowen. Medium. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  13. ^ Cowen, Tyler (August 12, 2017). "I'm with the Mormons on this one – how about you?". Marginal Revolution. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  14. ^ Cowen, Tyler (October 16, 2018). "Rob Wiblin interviews Tyler on *Stubborn Attachments*". Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  15. ^ The joy of thinking globally archived 27 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine, February 7, 2003, Daniel Akst, Los Angeles Times
  16. ^ Cowen, Tyler (2009). Markets and Cultural Voices. University of Michigan Press.
  17. ^ Cowen, Tyler (February 26, 2023). "Who was the most important critic of the printing press in the 17th century?". Marginal REVOLUTION. Archived from the original on March 5, 2023.
  18. ^ Bustillos, Maria (March 17, 2023). "Just Because ChatBots Can't Think Doesn't Mean They Can't Lie". Retrieved March 17, 2023.
  19. ^ "Too Few Regulations? No, Just Ineffective Ones".
  20. ^ "Tyler Cowen Ethnic Dining Guide". Cowen released the guide's 31st edition in 2019.
  21. ^ III, Douglas Hanks (June 20, 2001). "The Lone Critic". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved December 8, 2021.
  22. ^ Carman, Tim (January 30, 2009). "Tyler Cowen Unleashes the Latest Edition of His Ethnic Dining Guide". Washington City Paper. Retrieved December 8, 2021.
  23. ^ "Against the social discount rate" by Derek Parfit and Tyler Cowen, in Peter Laslett & James S. Fishkin (eds.) Justice between age groups and generations, Yale University Press: New Haven, 1992, pp. 144–161.[ISBN missing]
  24. ^ "The Epistemic Problem Does Not Refute Consequentialism" by Tyler Cowen, Utilitas (2006), 18: 383–399, archived 26 September 2021 at the Wayback Machine.
  25. ^ Klein, Daniel B. "Mere Libertarianism: Blending Hayek and Rothbard Archived May 29, 2008, at the Wayback Machine". Reason Papers. Vol. 27: Fall 2004.
  26. ^ Cowen, Tyler (March 1, 2009). "Message to Regulators: Bank Fix Needed Quickly". New York Times.
  27. ^ "The Paradox of Libertarianism".
  28. ^ Brooks, David (November 19, 2012). "The Conservative Future". New York Times. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  29. ^ a b Cowen, Tyler (August 4, 2014). "Matt Yglesias on Tyler Cowen". Marginal Revolution. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  30. ^ Cowen, Tyler (January 1, 2020). "What libertarianism has become and will become – State Capacity Libertarianism". Marginal Revolution. Retrieved October 17, 2021.
  31. ^ Cowen, Tyler (April 9, 2009). "A Bayesian approach to legal gay marriage". Marginal Revolution. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  32. ^ Cowen, Tyler (June 26, 2015). "Legal gay marriage". Marginal Revolution. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
  33. ^ Cowen, Tyler; Collison, Patrick (July 30, 2019). "We Need a New Science of Progress". The Atlantic. Retrieved September 30, 2022.
  34. ^ Hazell, Will (July 2023). "Liz Truss goes global with task force to revive sagging economy". The Telegraph.
  35. ^ "Tyler Looks Back on 2019 (BONUS)". conversationswithtyler.com. July 7, 2018. Retrieved December 6, 2021.
  36. ^ "Tyler Cowen: Production Function". David Perell. Retrieved December 6, 2021.

External links[edit]