John Garen
BB&T Professor Emeritus of Economics
Gatton College of Business and Economics
                      University of Kentucky                         
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Department of Economics                                        
Gatton College of Business and Economics                            
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40506-0034
Office: 223P Business and Economics Building
Phone: (859) 257-3581


Vita supplement

Kentucky Distinguished Economist, 2020.

Some Recent Work

Free Enterprise, Employer Vaccine Mandates, and Bans on Employer Mandates," October 2022,
This paper discusses why private sector vaccine mandate may actually be counter to free enterprise.

For a shorter version of the above paper, see:
"Private Sector Vaccine Mandates are Contrary to Free Enterprise," Brownstone Institute, October 2022,

"School Choice and Competition:  Has There Been Enough Enabling Legislation to Generate Broad-Based Effects?," August 2022.
This paper finds that states that have adopted more school choice policies have remarkably higher student test scores and at lower cost.

"Double Dividend:  Better Outcomes for Less Money," blog post, Commonwealth Education Opportunities of Kentucky, March 2, 2022.

"Why We Should Advance School Choice, Not Critical Race Theory," (with G. Houchens), Louisville Courier-Journal, January 20, 2022,

"Want to Give Parents Lasting Power?," blog post, Commonwealth Education Opportunities of Kentucky, January 4, 2022.

“Some Basics of Capitalism and Socialism and Implications for Human Liberty, Morality, and Fairness,” September 2020 (white paper).   This paper reviews the deep fundamentals of capitalism and socialism, as well as the fairness aspects of capitalism.

“Facts and Trends Regarding Performance and Funding of  K-12 in Kentucky,” December 2020 (white paper).
This paper documents the historical increase in K-12 spending and the trend in test scores, as well as other aspects of K-12.

Other Commentaries on School Choice
      “School Choice is a Better Investment Than More School Spending,” (with G. Houchens) May 2021, in the Northern Kentucky
        Tribune, The State Journal (Frankfort), Richmond Register, and The Times Leader (Caldwell County).

      “Helping Parents with Their Kids’ Schooling,” (with G. Houchens) January 2021, in the Louisville Courier-Journal, Kentucky
        Today, The State Journal (Frankfort), Kentucky New Era (Hopkinsville), The Times Leader (Caldwell County), and The Times
        Tribune (Corbin).

      “Educational Options for Families:  The Road to Real Reform,” March 2020 (opinion column published in The Lane Report,
       March 14, 2020.  

“The Allocation and Exchange of Property Rights as a Way to Understand Comparative Economics Systems and Managerial Economics,” Fall 2020 (published in the Journal of Private Enterprise, winter 2020).  This paper presents unifying discussion of different economic systems.  The key aspects of their differences illustrate how free enterprise generally produces more prosperity, as well as helps understand managerial economics.

COVID-19 Commentaries
     “The CARES Act:  Relief, But What About Recovery?,” Pegasus Institute blog, April 9, 2020.

     “COVID-19:  In Rush to Act, There are a lot of Questions that We Still Haven’t Answered,” Pegasus Institute blog, April 3, 2020.

     “Coronavirus Economics #5:  The Costs and Benefits of Government Action,” University of Kentucky Institute for the Study of
      Free Enterprise video series, May 2020. 

“Social Security and Medicare Spending Growth:  Is It Just More Seniors or More Per Senior?,”  Feb. 2019 (published in Merrifield, John and Poulson, Barry (eds.), A Fiscal Cliff:  New Perspectives on the U.S. Federal Debt Crisis, Washington, DC:  Cato Institute, 2020, pp. 261-274.).  This paper discusses the large increases in Social Security and Medicare spending forecast to come in the near future and what might to done to limit it.

“Competition and Certificate-of-Need Laws,”  Pegasus Institute Policy Brief, January 2020.
This paper argues that competition is presumptively the best form of organization for healthcare and that claims to the contrary do not have validity. 

“The Federal-Private Wage Differential: How Has It Evolved?,” Fall 2020 (published in Applied Economics, 53(5), 2021, pp. 536-554 (with S. K. Choi)).  This paper is a careful statistical examination of federal worker pay compared to private sector pay from 1995 to 2017.  We find that federal workers invariably are paid more by an average of 13.2%, even after controlling for differences in education, age, and other worker characteristics. 

“The Growth of Government, Trust in Government, and Evidence on Their Coevolution,” March 2018 (published in Journal of Economics and Finance, 43(3), July 2019, pp. 456-480 (with S. Gordon and J.R. Clark)). This paper shows how the 50-year decline of trust in the federal government is associated with the growth of federal spending and regulation. 

“Educational Test Scores, Education Spending, and Productivity in Public Education:  National Trends and Evidence Across States and Over Time, 1990 – 2015,” January 2018 (with R. Bray).  This study finds a decades-long, substantial rise in national K-12 funding, but only modest test score increase.  This implies that productivity, measured by test score points per dollar of funding, has steadily decreased. Funding changes over time and across states indicate only a minimal association of funding to test scores.

Other Information
Founding Director and current affiliate, Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise
BB&T Program for the Study of Capitalism, 2007-2018.

Learning About Economic Freedom

Assorted Non-Technical Writing

Some Recent Teaching
ECO 365, Social Economic Organization, Spring 2020. Syllabus.
This course presents fundamental ideas underlying economic organization, including capitalism and its critiques and alternatives.

ECO 401, Intermediate Microeconomic Theory, Fall 2018. Syllabus.
This course is the core course in microeconomic theory in the undergraduate economics program.  Its purpose is to develop a deeper understanding of microeconomics and its applications. 

Other Courses Taught

ECO 732, Labor Economics II (graduate), Spring 2015. Syllabus.

ECO 610, Managerial Economics (MBA), Fall 2014. Syllabus. 

ECO 601, Advanced Microeconomic Theory (graduate), Fall 2013. Syllabus.

ECO 479, Public Economics:  SyllabusECO 401,  Intermediate Microeconomic Theory:  Syllabus

ECO 477, Labor Economics (undergraduate): Syllabus

ECO 499, Law and Economics (undergraduate):  Syllabus 

ECO 411, Business Economics (undergraduate):  Syllabus

ECO 710, Economics of Organizations (graduate):  Syllabus

Some Non-Technical Writing  

Financial Markets                                
Macroeconomic Topics (with micro thinking)
Financial Mkts. Meltdown                     Economics and Politics of the Stimulus
Fannie and Freddie                             
Stimulus Spending                                  
Financial Mkts. and Capitalism          
Economic Recovery      
 The Auto Bailout
                                                                The Summer 2008 Economy                    

The Environment & Energy
School Choice (lengthy report)                                                $ for the Environment
    (or see               Global Warming    
School Reform                                                                           Energy and Food Prices        
Higher Education                                                                       Energy Independence
Labor Economics                        Political Economy                        
Minimum Wage                           Boondoggle Spending                  
Health Care 
Labor Market Mandates             Wal-Mart                                        
Smart Growth    
Outsourcing                                  Nov. 2006 Election                        Affordable Housing                   
Globalization & Jobs                                                                            Price Regulation


employer mandates (S)

employer mandates (L)