Thomas Ferguson is the Institute for New Economic Thinking’s Director of Research Projects and a member of its Advisory Board. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and Senior Fellow at Better Markets. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University and taught formerly at MIT and the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including Golden Rule (University of Chicago Press, 1995) and Right Turn (Hill & Wang, 1986). His articles have appeared in many scholarly journals, including the Quarterly Journal of Economics, International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, and the Journal of Economic History. He is a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Political Economy and a longtime Contributing Editor at The Nation.

By this expert

Big Money—Not Political Tribalism—Drives US Elections

Article | Oct 31, 2018

Conventional wisdom asserts that American politics is becoming more and more tribal. But the chiefs of the tribes share a lot in common: dependence on big money.

Economic Distress Did Drive Trump’s Win

Article | Oct 31, 2018

Contrary to the dominant media narrative, social issues like racism and sexism on their own can’t explain Trump’s success.

The Economic and Social Roots of Populist Rebellion: Support for Donald Trump in 2016

Paper Working Paper Series | | Oct 2018

This paper critically analyzes voting patterns in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

INET Memo to G20: The Trouble with Economic Research Evaluation

Article | May 28, 2018

In a memo for the G20, INET calls for changes to the evaluation of economic research to ensure that economic theory—and policy—is more rigorous, innovative, and in service to society. 

Featuring this expert

Thomas Ferguson's article affluent authoritarianism is referenced in The Financial Times

News Nov 11, 2020

“The role of money in US politics is fundamental. A recent updating of earlier research, released by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, confirms that the views of the top decile of the population largely determine policy. The inevitable frustrations of the rest give the parties their passionate voting blocs.” — Martin Wolf

INET working paper along with Thomas Ferguson's article are the focus of this Inequality article.

News Nov 9, 2020

“Their new working paper, just published by the Institute for New Economic Thinking in New York, gives a rigorously technical analysis of what these tools reveal, and the Institute’s research director, Thomas Ferguson, has helpfully fashioned an introduction to — and a historical context for — the McGuire-Delahunt analysis that lay readers will find easily accessible. Ferguson, himself a pioneer in social science research on political decision making, points out that “the idea that public opinion powers at least the broad direction of public policy in formally democratic countries like the United States has been an article of faith in both political science and public economics for generations.” —Sam Pizzigati

Thomas Ferguson's INET article affluent authoritarianism is discussed in Counterpunch

News Nov 6, 2020

“Conveniently for present purposes, Naked Capitalism posted a piece by political scientist Thomas Ferguson on the determinants of political decision making— that is, on the ‘product’ that elected representatives produce. The punchline: ‘money,’ as defined by the interests of corporate executives and oligarchs, is the overwhelming determinant of ‘political’ outcomes. Advancing the public will— the liberal explanation; or the public interest, the explanation offered for representative democracy, have no bearing. The longstanding practice of fitting political outcomes into these theoretical frames to ‘explain’ public policies is scientific malpractice given Mr. Ferguson’s findings.” —- Rob Urie

YSI 2020 Plenary: New Economic Questions

Young Scholars Initiative Virtual Plenary

YSI Event Plenary YSI | Nov 6–15, 2020

What are the 100 most pertinent economic questions facing our global societ?