James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock, and The Calculus
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The Calculus of Consent (Buchanan and Tullock 1962) is one among a handful of contributions to public choice that can truly be called a classic. It was one of the building blocks laying the foundation for what would become an immense research program falling under the heading of public choice.
I can identify four lasting contributions to the public choice literature from The Calculus. The first would be the analysis of the optimal voting rule (Buchanan and Tullock 1962: 63–91). Buchanan and Tullock addressed the problem of choosing an optimal voting rule by introducing two categories of costs associated with collective actions. Decision-making costs are the time and effort required to reach a collective decision; they are assumed to rise as the majority required for passage expands. The external costs of collective decision-makingare the expected losses to a person on the losing end of a collective decision made using any voting rule other than unanimous consent. Those costs fall as...
KeywordsPublic Choice Nobel Prize Vote Rule Constitutional Rule Rent Seek
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