Hoover Senior Fellow John F. Cogan’s book, The High Cost of Good Intentions: A History of U.S. Federal Entitlement Programs, won the 2018 Hayek Book Prize.

The Manhattan Institute's Hayek Prize honors the book that best reflects economist Friedrich Hayek’s vision of economic and individual liberty.

As part of the honor, Cogan will deliver the annual Hayek lecture in New York on June 7. The prize comes with a $50,000 award. Cogan is the Leonard and Shirley Ely Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and a faculty member in Stanford's Public Policy Program.

Cogan said, "I am deeply honored and humbled to receive the Hayek Prize. I've read each of the nominated books and each represents an extraordinary contribution to its particular area of inquiry. The high quality of these books makes me cherish the Hayek Prize an even more."

Cogan’s book is described as the first comprehensive history of federal entitlement programs. In the work, he explains how entitlements created a steady march of liberalizing forces over the past 200 years that caused these programs to expand. This continues until benefits are extended to nearly all who could be considered eligible, which further encourages a social appetite for future entitlement expansions.

Published by Stanford University Press in September 2017, the book offers a unifying explanation for the evolutionary path that nearly all federal entitlement programs have followed and describes the financial risks they pose for future generations.

Amity Shlaes, jury chair at the Manhattan Institute, said,

“John Cogan is like a surveyor plotting Hayek’s Road to Serfdom for us.  Cogan’s work shows us how far away from individual liberty and responsibly we have come, and what we might do to reverse our course.”

Manhattan Institute President Lawrence J. Mone added, “We are pleased to award the Hayek Prize this year to John F. Cogan. His comprehensive and unflinching history of US federal entitlement programs is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand how our safety net has ballooned to the untenable size it is today.”

Cogan’s book was among five the institute considered for the award.

An expert in domestic policy, Cogan’s research is focused on US budget and fiscal policy, federal entitlement programs, and health  care. He served as assistant secretary for policy in the US Department of Labor from 1981 to 1983. From 1983 to 1985 he served as associate director in the US Office of Management and Budget; he was appointed deputy director in 1998.

Cogan’s previous books include Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: 5 Steps to a Better Health Care System, coauthored with Glenn Hubbard and Daniel P. Kessler, and The Budget Puzzle (with Timothy J. Muris and Allen Schick). He has served on numerous congressional, presidential, and California state advisory commissions.

‘The Power of Ideas’

A political philosopher and Nobel laureate, Hayek wrote groundbreaking books such as The Road to Serfdom and The Constitution of Liberty and was a key figure in the twentieth century revival of classical liberalism. He was also a formative influence on the Manhattan Institute, whose mission since its 1977 founding is to develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility.

Hayek once wrote, “Unless we can make the philosophic foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task which challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds, the prospects of freedom are indeed dark. But if we can regain that belief in the power of ideas which was the mark of liberalism at its best, the battle is not lost.”


Clifton B. Parker, Hoover Institution: cbparker@stanford.edu, 650-498-5204

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