The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Public Choice

  • Gordon Tullock
Reference work entry


By assuming that voters, politicians and bureaucrats are mainly self-interested, public choice uses economic tools to deal with the traditional problems of political science. Its findings revolve around the effects of voter ignorance, agenda control and the incentives facing bureaucrats in sacrificing the public interest to special interests. The design of improved governmental methods based on the positive information about how governments actually function has been an important part of public choice. Constitutional reforms advocated variously by public choice thinkers include direct voting, proportional representation, bicameral legislatures, reinforced majorities, competition between government departments, and contracting out government activities.


Agenda control Arrow, K. Bicameral legislatures Black, D. Buchanan, J. Bureaucracy Constitutions, economic approach to Democracy Direct voting Downs, A. Niskanen, W. Proportional representation Public choice Public interest Reinforced majorities Single-peaked preferences Social choice Special interests Tullock, G. Voting 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gordon Tullock
    • 1
  1. 1.