An Introduction

  • Albert Breton
Part of the Case Studies in Economics book series (STEC)


In the last fifteen years or so economists, returning to a tradition which they had to all appearances completely abandoned, have produced a growing volume of research on the problem of collective choice. If we bear in mind that the classification of analytic and scientific work is always somewhat capricious, it is possible without doing too much violence to these writings to classify them under four major headings, to wit, the theory of public goods, the theory of democracy, the theory of decision- rules, and the theory of transaction costs.1 It may not be intuitively obvious that all this research work has a bearing on the question of collective decisions: this may explain why each particular field of research has until now largely, but not wholly,
  1. 1.

    What I call the theory of public goods has historically been developed and formulated under various names: Wicksell discussed it under the heading of “A New Principle of Just Taxation” (“Ein neues Prinzip der gerechten Besteuerung”), while Samuelson labelled his discussion “The Pure Theory of Public Expenditure”. As the subsequent discussion should amply emphasize, it is neither a theory of taxation, nor a theory of government expenditure; it is an existence theorem about public goods coupled with a market failure theorem.

lived a life of its own, unimpeded in its growth by the issues discussed in the other areas.


Public Good Transaction Cost Political Party Public Expenditure Government Expenditure 
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Copyright information

© Albert Breton 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Albert Breton
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TorontoCanada

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