Gary Wolfram
Economics, Business, and Accounting

Gary Wolfram

William Simon Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Director of Economics, Professor of Political Economy
“Economics can be used to explain much of what happens around us. It allows one to see both the seen and the unforeseen.”
— Gary Wolfram

Faculty Information

Additional Faculty Information for Gary Wolfram


B.A. in Economics, University of California, Santa Barbara

Ph.D. in Economics, University of California, Berkeley

Memberships and Offices

Columnist for The Detroit News Political Blog

President – Hillsdale Policy Group, a public policy consulting firm, 1992-present

Deputy State Treasurer – Taxation and Economic Policy, State of Michigan, 1991-1992

Board of Trustees – Lake Superior State University, 1999 to 2008; Chairman, 2003-2004, Secretary-Treasurer, 2004-2005

Michigan State Board of Education, 1993-98

Congressional Chief of Staff for Nick Smith, MI 7th, 1995-1996

Economic Advisory Council to Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Chairman – Michigan Alliance for Competitive Energy, 2008-2009

Board of Advisors – American Legislative Exchange Council Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force, 2007 to present

Board of Advisors – Media Research Center’s Free Market Project, 2003 to present

Editorial Board – Journal of School Choice, 2008 to present

Board of Hillsdale County Economic Development Corporation, 2008-2010 and 2012 to present

Board of Advisors – Michigan Civics Institute, 2000 to 2009

Scholar-in-Residence – Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Summer 1998

Board of Directors – Michigan Council on Economic Education, 1998 to present

Board of Scholars – Mackinac Center, 1983 to present

Board of Advisors – Adam Ferguson Institute, 1996-2000

National Board of Scholars – Buckeye Institute, 1995-2000

Board of Advisors – Michigan School Board Leaders Association, 1999-2005

Ensuring Excellent Educators Task Force, Michigan State Board of Education, 2002

Chairman – Headlee Amendment Blue Ribbon Committee, 1993

Board of Directors – Michigan Enterprise Zone Authority, 1992-1994

Michigan Housing Action Team, 1992-1993

Board of Directors – Michigan State Housing Development Authority, 1991-1992

Board of Directors – Michigan Strategic Fund, 1991-1992

Michigan Housing Coordinating Council, 1991

President – F.D.G. Economics, consultant to Lithuanian government, 1989-1991

Michigan Republican Party Issues Committee, 1990-1991

Committee on Fiscal Affairs National Conference of State Legislatures, 1986-1988

City of Detroit Property Tax Task Force 1990, member and author of final report

Senior Staff – Michigan School Finance Commission, Michigan Department of Education, 1987-1988

Senior Staff – Citizens Property Tax Commission of Michigan Senate, 1986-1987 and author of Commission Report


A Capitalist Manifesto, DunlapGoddard, 2013, Hillsdale College Edition

Effect of Time Spent in Charter Schools on Student Test Scores: A Michigan Case Study, Journal of School Choice, Vol. 2, No. 1., 2008

Making College More Expensive: The Unintended Consequences of Federal Tuition Aid, Cato Institute, Policy Analysis, January 2005

Taxpayer Rights and the Fiscal Constitution, in Politics, Taxation and the Rule of Law: The Power to Tax in Constitutional Perspective, Richard Wagner (ed.), Public Interest Institute, 2002

Maintaining Independent Higher Education in Oklahoma: Analysis and a Solution, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, October 2001

“School-to-Work: A Large Step Down the Road to Serfdom, The Freeman, September 1999

The Role of Government in Regulation of Monopoly, Administrative Law Quarterly, State Bar of Michigan, Summer 1998

The Universal Tuition Tax Credit: A Proposal to Advance Parental Choice in Education, with Patrick Anderson, Richard McLellan, Joseph Overton, Mackinac Center Report, November 1997

The Threat to Independent Education: Public Subsidies and Private Colleges, Cato Institute, Policy Analysis, No. 278, August 15, 1997

Insurance Red Lining: Existence, Basis, and Government Intervention, The Freeman, June 1997

Resolved: That Government Should Play a Significant Role in the Funding of the Arts—Negative, Journal for the Arts and Public Policy, June 1994

Lithuania and Its Transition to a Market Economy: How to Begin, in R. McGee (ed.), The Market Solution to Economic Development in Eastern Europe, 1992. Reprinted in The Economist of Lithuania, 1992, No. 2

A Note on Converting the Ruble, The Freeman, January 1991

Inheritance Taxation: Michigan as a Case Study, Wayne State Law Review, Vol. 37, No. 1, Fall 1990

The Case for Replacing Michigan’s Inheritance Tax, Journal of Michigan Society of Association Executives, October 1989

Taxation of Insurance Companies in Michigan: Court Cases and the Legislative Debate, Detroit College of Law Review, Spring 1988

The Sale of Development Rights in the Preservation of Open Space: Lindahl Equilibrium and a Case Study, Land Economics, August 1981

News & Media

“Tuition-Free College Not Quite The Deal Democrats Expect,” Fox Business, March 2019

“The Liberty Forum,” C-SPAN, February 13, 2018

“Celebrities are getting more voters than candidates—that’s a bad sign for democracy,” Washington Examiner, November 2018


Economics can be used to explain much of what happens around us—how people behave, what is produced, who gets what, and how government works. It allows one to see both the seen and the unforeseen.

People should both see and observe. Economics should produce this among students of the subject. The focus should be on the logic of how one action creates consequences that are both intended and unintended.  This can be used to determine why individual liberty is important and how government must be limited.

I have been at Hillsdale since 1989, and I particularly enjoy teaching undergraduates. The atmosphere is extremely cordial, with everyone working together, and the philosophy of the College is known, direct, and consistent with my views.

Hillsdale provides students with a quality undergraduate education. Professors are experts in their fields, but just as important, they have chosen teaching as their vocation. Unlike a school like UC Berkeley, which is a great institution and where I earned my Ph.D., undergraduates at Hillsdale are not taught by teaching assistants. If you want to go to a top research institution for graduate school, an undergraduate degree from Hillsdale will make this possible.  

In addition, while there are a lot of fine schools that are regional in reputation, Hillsdale is national in reputation. If you want to work in Phoenix or New York, people will know of Hillsdale. This gives students here more opportunity than most other liberal arts colleges.

I used to spend my free time as a competitive distance runner seeking the Olympic Trials in the marathon, but at my age, those days are gone. I now spend time with family, give talks around the country, and consult on public policy issues, primarily at the state level. In fact, I took a leave of absence from 1991-1992 to serve as the Deputy State Treasurer for the State of Michigan and served as the Chief of Staff for Congressman Nick Smith from 1995-1996.