Just published last week, the Fraser Institute’s latest book details the history and impact of the influential University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) economics department. It is authored by David R. Henderson, professor emeritus of economics at the Naval Postgraduate School in California, and Steven Globerman, professor emeritus at Western Washington University.
Pioneering an approach during the last few decades of the 20th century that became known as New Institutional Economics, the department bucked against the trends of the day (which primarily favoured increased government intervention in the economy) to champion the benefits of well-defined property rights and efficiency over regulation.
The publication, accompanied by a website and animated videos, profiles several key figures whose whose work provided key insights that have helped shaped policy to this day. Namely, economist Armen Alchian, who essentially established the movement when he joined the department in 1946, Harold Demsetz, who joined in 1971, and economist Sam Peltzman, whose key observation — that making things “safer” causes people to take more risks — is now known as the “The Peltzman Effect.”
“By focusing on the role of institutions, particularly property rights, regulation, the legal system and social norms — and how they guide and influence the economy — the UCLA School distinguished itself from most other economics programs,” says Henderson.