Table of Contents

The Elgar Companion to Public Choice

The Elgar Companion to Public Choice

Elgar original reference

Edited by William F. Shughart II and Laura Razzolini

This authoritative and encyclopaedic reference work provides a thorough account of the public choice approach to economics and politics. The Companion breaks new ground by joining together the most important issues in the field in a single comprehensive volume. It contains state-of-the-art discussions of both old and contemporary problems, including new work by the founding fathers as well as contributions by a new generation of younger scholars.  

Introduction: Public choice at the millennium

William F. Shughart II and Laura Razzolini

Subjects: economics and finance, public choice theory, politics and public policy, public choice


William F. Shughart II and Laura Razzolini* Thirty-five years ago, Dennis Mueller was able to survey the field of public choice within the space of an article-length contribution to the Journal of Economic Literature. Fifteen years later, Public Choice II, the second edition of the book expanding on that initial literature review, ran to nearly 500 pages of densely packed text and cited approximately 900 scholarly works. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, attempting to do the field justice within the covers of a single volume has become a daunting challenge.1 That is because the ideas and methods elaborated by Duncan Black, Anthony Downs, Kenneth Arrow, James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock, William Riker and Mancur Olson have permeated virtually every recognized area of specialization within the disciplines of economics, political science and, to a lesser extent, sociology. Not unlike the successful inroads made by neoclassical economics itself into research on the family, crime and punishment, and the law, public choice has transformed the study of Homo politicus. If the theories of social science are to be judged by their applications, by their ability to help explain observed human behavior within a particular set of institutional constraints (and even to help illuminate the design of the institutions that impose those constraints), then public choice has perhaps been the most successful theoretical innovation to have appeared in the past halfcentury or so. By Kuhnian (Kuhn 1970) standards, public choice truly has been revolutionary. The established paradigm challenged by public choice...