There is a long-standing difference amongst public economists between those who think that collective choice must be formally acknowledged, and those who derive their policy recommendations from a social planning framework in which politics plays no role. The purpose of this book is to contribute to a meaningful dialogue between these two groups, in the belief that the future of both political economy and of normative public finance lies somewhere between the two approaches.
Some of the specific questions addressed in the book include: does public finance need political economy? Should collective choice play a role in the standard of reference used in normative public finance? What is a ‘failure’ in a non-market or policy process? And what have we learned about the theory and practice of public finance from three decades of empirical research on public choice? The book also provides a practitioner’s view of the political economy of redistribution.
The distinguished list of authors, many of whom are pre-eminent in their fields, includes Robin Boadway, Geoffrey Brennan, Albert Breton, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, Walter Hettich, Gebhard Kirchgässner, Dennis Mueller, William Niskanen, Hirofumi Shibata, Eugene Smolensky, Heinrich Ursprung, Frans van Winden, Stanley Winer and Donald Wittman.
The importance of political economy to any understanding of why public policy evolves as it does is now widely accepted by public finance scholars and practitioners. This book goes a step further by considering the role of collective choice in defining what constitutes ‘good’ or ‘better’ policy. It will be an essential companion for all scholars of public finance and political economy.