The Review of Austrian Economics

, Volume 15, Issue 2–3, pp 199–209 | Cite as

The Democratic Efficiency Debate and Definitions of Political Equilibrium

  • Daniel Sutter


An ongoing debate has been occurring within public choice for over a decade concerning the efficiency of democracy. Virginia Political Economy holds that political markets perform very differently from traditional markets. Chicago Political Economy, exemplified by the work of Becker and Wittman, maintains that political equilibrium, properly defined, is relatively efficient. I argue that the debate can be understood at least partially in methodological terms: Chicago views politics exclusively within the equilibrium framework of traditional economics, while Virginia draws at least implicitly on Austrian economics' view of the economy as a disequilibrium process. I contend that the factors which public choice scholarship has identified as distinguishing politics from markets—rational ignorance, majority rule, collective outcomes—affect the performance of politics as a process even if political equilibrium is relatively efficient.

political equilibrium efficiency market process 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Sutter
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA

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