Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Public Choice: an Overview

Borooah, Vani (2005): Public Choice: an Overview. Published in: Readings in Public Finance (2005): pp. 135-155.

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Public Choice begins with the observation that in politics, as in economics, individuals and institutions compete for scarce resources and that, therefore, the same methods of analyses used by economists to explain the behaviour of consumers and producers might also serve well to explain the behaviour of governments and other (allegedly) “public-spirited” organisations . As Tullock (1988) succinctly put it, Public Choice is "the invasion of politics by economics". Public Choice derives its rationale from the fact that, in many areas, 'political' and 'economic' considerations interact so that a proper understanding of issues in one field requires a complementary understanding of issues in the other. Although the incursion of the analytical methods of economics into political science - which is the hall-mark of Public Choice - began in the 1950s, it was not until at least three decades later that the trickle became a flood. This chapter provides an overview of this field.

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