John F. Cogan

Leonard and Shirley Ely Senior Fellow
Awards and Honors:

John F. Cogan is the Leonard and Shirley Ely Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and a faculty member in the Public Policy Program at Stanford University.

John Cogan’s research is focused on U.S. budget and fiscal policy, federal entitlement programs, and health care.  He has published widely in professional journals in both economics and political science.  His latest book, The High Cost of Good Intentions (2017) is the recipient of the 2018 Hayek Prize.  The book traces the history of U.S. federal entitlement programs from the Revolutionary War to modern times.  His previous books include Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Five Steps to a Better Health Care System, coauthored with Glenn Hubbard and Daniel Kessler, and The Budget Puzzle, (with Timothy Muris and Allen Schick).

At Stanford, he has served on faculty advisory boards for the Stanford-in-Washington campus and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. He is a recipient of the Stanford-in-Government's Distinguished Service Award.

Cogan has devoted a considerable part of his career to public service. He served under President Ronald Reagan as assistant secretary for policy in the U.S. Department of Labor from 1981 to 1983, as associate director in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) from 1983 to 1985, and as Deputy (OMB) Director in 1988-89.  His responsibilities included developing and reviewing Reagan Administration policies in the areas of health care, Social Security, disability, welfare, and employment training.

Cogan has served on numerous congressional, presidential, and California state advisory commissions. At the federal level, he has served on President George W. Bush's Commission to Strengthen Social Security, the U.S. Bipartisan Commission on Health Care (the Pepper Commission), the Social Security Notch Commission, and the National Academy of Sciences' Panel on Poverty and Family Assistance. He has also served on the California State Commission on the 21st Century Economy and the California Public Employee Post-Employment Benefits Commission.  

Cogan recently retired from the Board of Directors of Gilead Sciences where he spent 15 years on the board and seven as Lead Independent Director.

Cogan is a member of the board of trustees of the Charles Schwab Family of Funds where he is Chairman of the Governance Committee.

Cogan received his A.B. in 1969 and his Ph.D. in 1976 from the University of California at Los Angeles, both in economics.  He received his M.A. in Economics from California State University at Long Beach in 1970.  He was an associate economist at the RAND Corporation from 1975 to 1980. In 1979, Cogan was appointed a national fellow at the Hoover Institution; in 1980 he was appointed a senior research fellow; and in 1984 he became a senior fellow.

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Recent Commentary

The Human Prosperity ProjectVideosFeatured

Why A Universal Basic Income Won't Work

by John F. Cogan, Daniel Heilvia PolicyEd
Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Though many believe that universal basic income (UBI) is an attractive alternative to current welfare policy, many features of a UBI would make it a destructive policy for the very recipients it intends to help.

Another Trillion-Dollar Baby

by John F. Cogan, Daniel Heilvia Hoover Digest
Monday, October 18, 2021

The Biden administration is eager to midwife a huge expansion in entitlement payments. More than half of all Americans would be on the federal dole.

In the News

America On The Dole

quoting John F. Cogan, Daniel Heilvia Reason
Monday, September 20, 2021
Biden's American Families Plan would put most working-age American households on the dole.

Borrowed Time

by George P. Shultz, John F. Cogan, John B. Taylorvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, July 15, 2021

The United States was already on a dangerous debt binge even before the pandemic. More reckless spending will overwhelm investment, growth, and job creation.


John Cogan: Biden's Plan For An Entitlement Society

interview with John F. Coganvia Fox News
Saturday, July 3, 2021

Hoover Institution fellow John Cogan discusses entitlement programs and Biden's Family Plan, and how this will expand the entitlement programs.


Biden’s Plan For An Entitlement Society

by John F. Cogan, Daniel Heilvia The Wall Street Journal
Monday, June 28, 2021

For the first time in history, more than half of all Americans would be on the federal dole.


The Truth About Stimulus Checks

by John B. Taylor, John F. Coganvia PolicyEd
Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Stimulus checks add billions to the federal debt that must be paid back eventually, often offsetting their effectiveness.

The Shultz Way

by John F. Cogan, John B. Taylorvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 26, 2021

The irreplaceable “Great Convener” never lost sight of his goal—and his greatest talent was leading others toward it.

Policy InsightsFeatured

Capitalism Vs. Socialism

featuring Edward Paul Lazear, Lee Ohanian, Joshua D. Rauh, John F. Cogan, Daniel Heil, Terry Anderson, Scott W. Atlas, Russell A. Bermanvia PolicyEd
Thursday, April 22, 2021

Over the last century countries have experimented with variations on both capitalism and socialsm. So how do socialism, capitalism, and their many variants compare?