Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert
Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz
Adolph Heinrich Gotthilf Wagner was born on 25 March 1835 in Erlangen (near Nuremberg) and died on 8 November 1917 in Berlin. Rudolf Wagner, his father, was a physiologist and university professor. Adolph Wagner finished his study of economics at the University of Heidelberg in 1857. His academic career included positions at the Handelshochschulen (Merchants Superior Schools) in Vienna and Hamburg, chairs at the universities of Dorpat (Livonia), Freiburg in Breisgau and, finally, the prestigious Humboldt University in Berlin, where he held the chair of Staatswissenschaften (sciences of the state) from 1870 until 1916; he was succeeded by Werner Sombart. In terms of directly traceable influence on subsequent developments in public economics, Adolph Wagner is probably the most influential member of the triad of German Finanzwissenschaft (public finance) in its Golden Age (a phrase coined by Richard Musgrave), comprising also Lorenz von Stein and Albert Schäffle. Even today, he is fairly well known to students of public economics as the author of Wagner’s Law, referring to the tendency of an increasing relative size and functional importance of the public sector in the development process of market societies, characterized by the secular trends that became clearly visible in the nineteenth century: industrialization, urbanization, and unprecedented economic growth. His successful academic career made him a figure with some influence not only in academia, but also in German tax and social policy. Nor was his reputation confined to the German-speaking academic world: apart from countries such as Italy, he had some influence...
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