This Handbook provides an overview of interdisciplinary research related to social choice and voting that is intended for a broad audience. Expert contributors from various fields present critical summaries of the existing literature, including intuitive explanations of technical terminology and well-known theorems, suggesting new directions for research.
Mancur Olson wrote important books in the area of Collective Choice and is considered one of the founding fathers of Public Choice as a field of economics. The chapters in this volume cover three main areas of Olson's life work: Collective Action, Institutional Sclerosis and Market-Augmenting Government. Some chapters directly assess Olson`s contributions, focusing on distinguishing what was original in his works from what was already in the literature, and guaging his impact on the fields of public economics and economic history. Other chapters present new tests and frequently extend his work. Each of the chapters is a new piece of scholarship inspired by and intended to honor Mancur Olson, and extend his influence to another generation of Collective Choice scholars and researchers.
Jac C. Heckelman, John C. Moorhouse and Robert Whaples The eight chapters of this volume are revised versions of papers originally presented at the "Applications of Public Choice Theory to Economic History" conference held at Wake Forest University, April 9-10, 1999. They all apply the tools of public choice theory to the types of questions which economic historians have traditionally addressed. By adding the insights of public choice economics to the traditional tools used to understand economic actors and institutions, the authors are able to provide fresh insights about many important issues of American history. 1. DEVELOPMENTS IN PUBLIC CHOICE THEORY Economists have historically sought to develop policies to improve social welfare by correcting perceived market failures due to monopoly power, externalities, and other departures from the textbook case of the purely competitive model. An underlying assumption is that the public sector, upon recognizing the market failure, will act to correct it. Applied work often develops the conditions under which these policies will be optimal. The public choice movement has questioned the false dichotomy established by welfare economists. Economists of all persuasions assume traditional private market actors, such as entrepreneurs, managers, and consumers, are self-interested rational maximizers. Why should this not hold for all economic agents? The innovation of public choice analysis is to show what happens when public sector actors, such as politicians, bureaucrats, and voters, also behave as rational self-interested maximizers.