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 is a member of the Board of Directors of Gilead Sciences where he is the Lead Independent Director and 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

FeaturedBlank Section (Placeholder)Economy

Trump’s Economic Dream Come True

by John F. Cogan, John B. Taylorvia The Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, October 6, 2020

[Subscription required] The coronavirus-induced recession is no reason to abandon economic policies that proved their worth.

Policy BriefsAnalysis and Commentary

John Cogan On The The Negative Effects Of High Taxes

by John F. Coganvia PolicyEd
Thursday, October 1, 2020

John Cogan clarifies why higher tax rates often do not lead to greater tax revenue.

Policy StoriesFeatured

Reining In Federal Spending: Lessons From Social Security

by John F. Coganvia PolicyEd
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Limiting the growth in federal spending is difficult, but history tells us it is not impossible.

Cheated by Collectivism

by George P. Shultz, Michael J. Boskin, John F. Cogan, John B. Taylorvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Businesses do good by benefiting their shareholders, not pursuing a phantom of “social responsibility.”

Policy InsightsFeatured


by Russ Roberts, Lee Ohanian, Michael J. Boskin, Richard A. Epstein, John B. Taylor, John F. Cogan, Daniel Heilvia PolicyEd
Thursday, May 28, 2020

With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the economy, some in Congress are proposing a large increase in infrastructure spending. Supporters claim that increased spending will boost the economy while ensuring future generations will benefit from improved transportation, power, and communication systems. But will increased federal spending on infrastructure deliver on these promises, or are there reasons to be skeptical?


Remdesivir Affirms The American Way

by John F. Cogan, George P. Shultzvia The Wall Street Journal
Friday, May 1, 2020

Gilead Sciences failed for years to prove its efficacy, but patent law and markets helped it to persevere.

Lessons From The Hoover Policy Boot CampFeatured

Federal Entitlement Programs And The Fiscal Challenge With John Cogan

by John F. Coganvia PolicyEd
Thursday, April 9, 2020

Long-run fiscal problems in federal government are due entirely to entitlement programs. Their continued growth is imposing a large cost on society by slowing down the economy and limiting improvements to standards of living. In order to control these costs, we need bipartisan reform that preserves the values of entitlement programs while making them sustainable and affordable.


Some Thoughts On The Business Roundtable's Statement Of Corporate Purpose

by George P. Shultz, Michael J. Boskin, John F. Cogan, John B. Taylorvia Real Clear Markets
Wednesday, February 5, 2020

From time to time in the last 150 years, a socialist impulse has taken hold among a significant segment of the U.S. population. This impulse was a primary driver behind the 1880s populists’ movement and among progressives in the 1910s. It was dominant ideology among socialists in the 1930s and among young radicals and intellectuals in the 1960s. Today, there is a similar collectivist sentiment running through America. 

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Warren’s Senior Moment

by John F. Coganvia Hoover Digest
Monday, January 20, 2020

The candidate would lavish money on Social Security recipients, even on the millions of seniors who don’t need it, by imposing a new and unfair tax. Her plan is just an election-year soaking.