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Autocratic, Democratic, and Optimal Government

Fiscal Choices and Economic Outcomes The late William A. Niskanen, formerly Chairman, The Cato Institute, US
This book presents simple models of the major alternative types of political regimes, estimates of the parameters of these models, and quantitative estimates of the fiscal choices and economic outcomes of these regimes.

William Niskanen provides valuable analysis of the effects of the voting rule, the progressivity of the tax structure, and the length of the fiscal horizon in democratic governments and interesting insights of the effects of alternative regimes on policies, such as war and immigration, that affect the number of people subject to the regime.
Extent: 160 pp
Hardback Price: $127.00 Web: $114.30
Publication Date: 2004
ISBN: 978 1 84376 435 9
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Paperback Price: $44.00 Web: $35.20
Publication Date: 2005
ISBN: 978 1 84542 093 2
Availability: In Stock
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  • eISBN: 978 1 78195 087 6

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  • Economics and Finance
  • Public Choice Theory
  • Politics and Public Policy
  • Public Choice
This book presents simple models of the major alternative types of political regimes, estimates of the parameters of these models, and quantitative estimates of the fiscal choices and economic outcomes of these regimes.

William Niskanen provides valuable analysis of the effects of the voting rule, the progressivity of the tax structure, and the length of the fiscal horizon in democratic governments and interesting insights of the effects of alternative regimes on policies, such as war and immigration, that affect the number of people subject to the regime.

Economists and political scientists who specialize in public finance, public choice, and the comparative analysis of political regimes will find much to engage them in this book.
‘Niskanen’s book applies public choice ideas to illuminate the effects of political institutions on prosperity, and in doing so he has written a book that not only is interesting in its own right but also points in a potentially productive direction for future research.’
– Randall G. Holcombe, Public Choice

‘I recommend the book as a stimulating read for those interested in the role of basic political institutions for the way economies work. The author helps other scholars towards the end by suggesting important, new research projects with the arguments of the book as a useful starting point.’
– Niclas Berggren, Economic Affairs

‘This book could easily be incorporated into a macro course by someone who was looking for a different context with which to illustrate the construction and use of RBC models. . . . Reading this book reminds me once again of how much admiration I have always had for Niskanen’s ability to reduce complex settings to simple models, and to do so in a way that allows him to extract empirically meaningful and interesting implications.’
– Richard E Wagner, Cato Journal

‘Bill Niskanen has pushed forward analysis of tax and spending systems. He reduces the overwhelming complexity of government fiscal decisions to lay bare the choices that democratic governments make. Future work will build on his.’
– Allan H. Meltzer, Carnegie Mellon University, US
Contents: Preface 1. On the Choice of Regime 2. Models of Government 3. The Parameters 4. Autocratic, Democratic, and Optimal Government 5. Variations on the Democratic Model 6. Fiscal Rules for a Democracy 7. A Constitutional Approach to Taxes and Transfers 8. Population Issues 9. Culture and Institutions 10. Conclusion References Index