Vedder, Richard K. 1940- (Richard Kent Vedder)

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Vedder, Richard K. 1940- (Richard Kent Vedder)


Born November 5, 1940, in Urbana, IL; son of Byron C. (a newspaper publisher) and Kathleen (a homemaker) Vedder; married Karen Pirosko (a teacher), June 18, 1968; children: Virin Kent, Vanette Kelly. Education: Northwestern University, B.A., 1962; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, A.M., 1963, Ph.D., 1965. Politics: Republican. Religion: Presbyterian.


Office—Department of Economics, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701; The Independent Institute, 100 Swan Way, Ste. 200, Oakland, CA 94621-1428; fax: 510-568-6040.


Ohio University, Athens, assistant professor, 1965-69, associate professor, 1969-74, professor of economics, beginning 1974, then Edwin and Ruth Kennedy Distinguished Professor of Economics and faculty associate at the university's Contemporary History Institute, chair of department, 1980-81; also adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Visiting professor at Claremont Men's College (now Claremont McKenna College), 1979-80, and University of Colorado at Boulder, 1979, 1980. Economist for Joint Economic Committee of Congress, 1981-82; member of board of trustees of Business History Conference.


American Economic Association, Economic History Association, Rotary.


Grant from Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation, 1974-75; Earhart Foundation fellow, 1963-70; Pacific Institute for Public Policy Research fellow, 1984; Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Award, 1994, for Out of Work.


(Editor and contributor, with David C. Klingaman) Essays in Nineteenth Century Economic History: The Old Northwest, Ohio University Press (Athens, OH), 1975.

The American Economy in Historical Perspective, Wadsworth (Belmont, CA), 1976.

(Editor, with Bruce Dalgaard) Variations in Business and Economic History, JAI Press (Greenwich, CT), 1982.

(With Lowell Gallaway) Paying People to be Poor, National Center for Policy Analysis (Dallas, TX), 1986.

(Editor, with David C. Klingaman) Essays on the Economy of the Old Northwest, Ohio University Press (Athens, OH), 1987.

(With Lowell Gallaway) Out of Work: Unemployment and Government in Twentieth-Century America, Holmes & Meier (New York, NY), 1993.

(With Lowell Gallaway) Concealed Costs: The Real Impact of the Administration's Health Care Plan on the Economy: A State-by-State Analysis, American Legislative Exchange Council (Washington, DC), 1994.

(With Lowell Gallaway) Minimum Wage Costs Jobs, National Center for Policy Analysis (Dallas, TX), 1995.

Can Teachers Own Their Own Schools? New Strategies for Educational Excellence, Independent Institute (Oakland, CA), 2000.

Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much, AEI Press (Washington, DC), 2004.

(With Wendell Cox) The Wal-Mart Revolution: How Big-box Stores Benefit Consumers, Workers, and the Economy, AEI Press (Washington, DC), 2006.

Contributor to professional journals and periodicals, including Journal of Economic History, Agricultural History, Explorations in Economic History, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Investor's Business Daily, Christian Science Monitor, and the Washington Post. Author of column in Ohio Conservative Review. Member of editorial board of Journal of Austrian Economics.


Richard K. Vedder told CA: "The first great book on economics, Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, was also the best, for it illustrated so clearly how individual self-interest could work for the public good and how highly decentralized decision making in a market environment is often superior to highly centralized decision making. In my works I attempt to demonstrate the essential correctness of Smith's proposition that the ‘invisible hand’ of the market serves the public as well as private interests. Our scarce resources are allocated relatively efficiently by the market mechanism to secure more goods and services than they are where market forces are not allowed to operate."

Vedder, an economic historian, has authored, coauthored, and edited numerous books focusing on economics. In Essays on the Economy of the Old Northwest, Vedder and coeditor David C. Klingaman present a series of essays that focus on economic development in an area that comprises Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Vedder also contributes an essay written with Lowell Gallaway titled "Economic Growth and Decline in the Old Northwest." "These essays make a strong case that institutions matter in regional development," noted David R. Meyer in Business History Review.

Vedder is coauthor, with Gallaway, of Out of Work: Unemployment and Government in Twentieth-Century America. Published in 1993, the book examines government policies that the authors believe are responsible for unemployment. "Their analysis demonstrates beyond any doubt that the problem of unemployment has been caused by the state, not by any inherent flaws or failures in a free market," commented Richard M. Ebeling in a review on the Future of Freedom Foundation Web site. Business Economics contributor William Niskanen wrote that the authors "have written a refreshing and important book about unemployment in the United States by focusing on the proximate conditions in the labor market."

In his 2004 book, Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much, Vedder examines the college tuition crisis and possible ways to reverse it. According to the author, universities in the United States are becoming less productive, less efficient, and more likely to use tuition money, along with state and federal grants, to subsidize noninstructional activities such as athletics. As a result, Vedder writes, these factors are causing hikes in tuition that are making it difficult for many Americans to afford college. The author cites competition from for-profit universities, computer-based distance learning, and non-university certification of skills as options to high-priced college educations and goes on to suggest numerous solutions to the tuition crisis, such as modifying tenure, increasing teaching loads, and cutting back administrative staff and some noneducational programs.

A contributor to the Alliance for Higher Education Competitiveness Web site referred to Going Broke by Degree as "the most serious effort to date at quantifying the key trends in higher education today," adding later in the same review: "This book is filled with a myriad of useful data." Noting that the author "posits that a free market in higher education is not something to be feared, but is in fact the key to fixing much of what is faulty in America's ivory tower," Cato Journal contributor Neal McCluskey went on to write that "as Congress works to reshape federal higher education policy, and as states grapple with the problems facing their colleges and universities, one hopes that the insightful and accessible logic in Vedder's book will take at least as prominent a place at the negotiating table as polities will."



Austrian Economics Newsletter, spring, 1999, "A Passion for Economics: An Interview with Richard K. Vedder."

Business Economics, January, 1994, William Niskanen, review of Out of Work: Unemployment and Government in Twentieth-Century America, p. 60.

Business History Review, summer, 1989, review of Essays on the Economy of the Old Northwest, p. 418.

Business Horizons, January-February, 1994, Alfred Diamant, review of Out of Work, p. 88.

Cato Journal, winter, 2005, Neal McCluskey, review of Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much, p. 170.

Industrial and Labor Relations Review, October, 1994, Robert A. Margo, review of Out of Work, p. 189.

National Review, November 15, 1993, Ed Rubenstrin, review of Out of Work, p. 63.

Political Science Quarterly, fall, 1993, Eli Ginzberg, review of Out of Work, p. 568.


Alliance for Higher Education Competitiveness Web site, (May 8, 2008), review of Going Broke by Degree., (May 8, 2008), Michael F. Shaughnessy, "An Interview with Richard Vedder: Going Broke by Degrees."

Future of Freedom Foundation Web site, (May 8, 2008), Richard M. Ebeling, review of Out of Work.

Independent Institute Web site, (May 8, 2008), profile of author.