Carl Menger Essay Contest

The Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, in collaboration with the Foundation for Economic Education and the Charles Koch Foundation, is pleased to announce the fourth annual Carl Menger Essay Contest.

The purpose of the contest is to recognize and encourage undergraduate scholarship in the Austrian tradition and the broadly catallactic approach to social science which it represents, an approach common also to the Scottish Enlightenment of Smith and Hume, the French Liberal School of Say and Bastiat, the Virginia School of Buchanan and Tullock, the UCLA price theory of Alchian and Demsetz, and the Bloomington School of Vincent and Elinor Ostrom, among others. We invite essays that explore, advance, challenge, or apply the ideas of these and related schools of thought.

The catallactic approach emphasizes exchange and the rules in which exchange takes place. James Buchanan articulates this approach in his famous article, “What Should Economists Do?” (Southern Economic Journal, Vol. 30 (1964), No. 3). Peter Boettke’s Living Economics describes the catallactic approach as the “mainline of economics.”



Three winners will each receive $500 conditional on attending and presenting their essays at the Society’s meetings at the Southern Economic Association conference ( The conference takes place on November 23-25, 2013 at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel in Tampa, Florida. Accommodations will be provided at the conference hotel and the cost of the SDAE dinner will be covered, but winners are responsible for registration. Travel scholarships may be available.



The contest is open to undergraduate students and recent graduates from any discipline. Entrants must be enrolled in undergraduate coursework at some point during the 2013 calendar year, and must not hold a Bachelor’s or equivalent degree as of January 31, 2013. Those graduating at the end of the spring or summer are eligible. Former winners are not eligible. Former entrants are, but must submit new essays.



Essays must be in English and the sole and original work of the entrant and not previously published. They should be in the format of a scholarly article, with any standard citation format. Essays may either be written specifically for the contest or arise from previous coursework (e.g., term papers, research projects, senior theses, etc.). They should be between 4,000 and 12,000 words long, including notes, abstract, and bibliography.



Any topic related to the themes addressed by the above or related schools of thought is acceptable. Those composing original essays are welcome to address any of the following questions that are of particular interest to the Prize Committee. These are merely suggestions:

1.     The relationships between government spending, government debt, and economic growth have been debated extensively in both political and academic forums recently. What insights from the work of the late James M. Buchanan could help to improve these debates?

2.     Among the oldest questions in economics is: why are some nations rich and others poor? How might the ideas of the late Armen Alchian help to better answer that question?

3.     Monetary policy has been used extensively in the past few years to combat the business cycle around the world. What insights can the catallactic approach to social science bring to bear on this issue?



Essays should be submitted in .doc or .pdf format by September 2, 2013. The author’s name, address, email, phone, and school should appear only on the first page of the document so that submissions may be judged anonymously. Title and abstract should appear on the second page.

The Menger essay contest is now CLOSED! 


The judges for the 2013 Contest are:

Jeremy Horpedahl, Assistant Professor of Economics at Buena Vista University

Daniel J. Smith, Assistant Professor of Economics at Troy University

Michael Thomas, Clinical Assistant Professor of Economics at Utah State University



Three winners will be notified by September 23, 2013. In order to claim their prize money, they must register for, attend, and present their work at the SEA meetings. Winners must arrange their own travel and register for the conference (at the discounted student rate). Three nights’ accommodation at the conference hotel will be paid for by the society. Presenting the paper at the conference is a key component of the contest, and thus those unable to attend in November are discouraged from submitting an entry.


Questions: If you have any questions please contact Adam Martin.


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