Public Choice

, Volume 163, Issue 3–4, pp 379–387

Public choice, social choice, and political economy

Literature Survey

DOI: 10.1007/s11127-015-0244-0

Cite this article as:
Mueller, D.C. Public Choice (2015) 163: 379. doi:10.1007/s11127-015-0244-0


Since World War II a large literature has arisen that uses the methodology of economics to examine the behavior of governments and the actors in them. Some scholars refer to their research as public choice, some as social choice, and still others as political economy. This article discusses the distinctions among these three terms. It concludes that all of the research falling under these three headings has much in common, and that people who refer to their work as public choice or political economy are essentially employing identical methodologies. Contributions to public choice, narrowly defined, are more often positive and empirical analyses of government behavior than those in social choice, narrowly defined.


Positive Normative Theoretical Empirical 

JEL Classification

B41 D71 D79 H11 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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