Mancur Olson

Mancur Olson is recognized as one of a handful of scholars responsible for changing the field of economics to ensure that politics became an integral part of economic thinking and policy formation. His work emphasized that a country’s economic policies and the quality of its legal institutions primarily determine its economic performance.

Two books by Olson, The Logic of Collective Action and The Rise and Decline of Nations, are considered seminal works in economics and political science. The former book showed that in most cases there is a divergence between what individuals want and what they are able to achieve as a group, while the latter book showed how the operation of interest groups can impede economic progress. Prior to his death, much of his work addressed the origins of public-good-providing governments, the fiscal policies of democracies and autocracies, and the role of property and contract rights in economic development.

Olson was a Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland.

He died of a sudden heart attack outside of his office at the University of Maryland in 1998.

Major works of Mancur Olson

– The Logic of Collective Action
– The Rise and Decline of Nations

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