Steven G. Medema

Steven G. Medema

Research Professor of Economics

External Address: 
07F Social Sciences Bldg., Box 90097, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90097, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 660-1802

Steven Medema’s research focuses on the history of modern economics, though his writings range over subjects as diverse as the Ancient Greeks, Adam Smith, and British philosopher Henry Sidgwick. The thread that unites much of his research is the analysis of the interplay between markets and government in the history of economic ideas. His current project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute for New Economic Thinking, examines the history of the Coase theorem and its influence in economics, law, and beyond. Professor Medema serves as an associate editor or editorial board member of several history of economics journals and was editor of the Journal of the History of Economic Thought from 1999 – 2008. He also serves as the Associate Director of the Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke.


  • Ph.D., Michigan State University 1989
  • A.B., Calvin College 1985

Medema, S. G. “The economist and the economist's audience.” Journal of the History of Economic Thought 41, no. 3 (September 1, 2019): 335–41. Full Text

Medema, S. G. “Economic rebel in retrospect.” Journal of Economic Methodology, January 9, 2015. Full Text

DeAngelo, G., and S. G. Medema. “Those crazy transaction costs: On the irrelevance of the equivalence between monetary damages and specific performance.” European Journal of Law and Economics 37, no. 2 (April 1, 2014): 269–75. Full Text

Medema, S. G. “1966 and all that: Codification, consolidation, creep, and controversy in the early history of the coase theorem.” Journal of the History of Economic Thought 36, no. 3 (January 1, 2014): 271–303. Full Text

Medema, S. G. “Neither misunderstood nor ignored: The early reception of coase's wider challenge to the analysis of externalities.” History of Economic Ideas 22, no. 1 (January 1, 2014): 111–32.

Medema, S. G. “Economics and institutions lessons from the coase theorem.” Revue Economique 65, no. 2 (January 1, 2014): 243–61. Full Text

Medema, S. G. “The curious treatment of the coase theorem in the environmental economics literature, 1960-1979.” Review of Environmental Economics and Policy 8, no. 1 (January 1, 2014): 39–57. Full Text

Medema, S. G. “Juris prudence: Calabresi's uneasy relationship with the coase theorem.” Law and Contemporary Problems 77, no. 2 (January 1, 2014): 65–95.


Medema, S. G. “His influence in the Anglo-Saxon world.” In Antonio de Viti de Marco: A Story Worth Remembering, 115–18, 2016. Full Text

Backhouse, R. E., and S. G. Medema. “Walras in the age of Marshall: An analysis of English-language journals, 1890-1939.” In Economics and Other Branches - In the Shade of the Oak Tree: Essays in Honour of Pascal Bridel, 69–86, 2015. Full Text

Medema, S. G. “Chicago price theory and chicago law and economics: A tale of two transitions.” In Building Chicago Economics: New Perspectives on the History of America’s Most Powerful Economics Program, 151–79, 2011. Full Text

Medema, S. S. “Richard A. Posner.” In The Elgar Companion to the Chicago School of Economics, 306–10, 2010.

Medema, S. S. “Chicago law and economics.” In The Elgar Companion to the Chicago School of Economics, 160–74, 2010.

Medema, S. S. “Ronald harry coase.” In The Elgar Companion to the Chicago School of Economics, 259–64, 2010.

Medema, S. S. “Adam Smith and the chicago school.” In The Elgar Companion to the Chicago School of Economics, 40–51, 2010.

Medema, S. “History of economic thought.” In The Heart of Teaching Economics: Lessons from Leading Minds, 139–60, 2010.

Medema, S. G. “Pigou's “prima facie case”: Market failure in theory and practice.” In No Wealth but Life: Welfare Economics and the Welfare State in Britain, 1880-1945, 42–61, 2010. Full Text


Selected Grants

Challenging Law's Foundations: The Coase Theorem Controversy in Legal Analysis awarded by Institute for Humane Studies (Principal Investigator). 2020 to 2021