The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Buchanan, James M. (Born 1919)

  • Richard E. Wagner
Reference work entry


The customary Anglo-Saxon approach to public finance treats the state as exogenous to the economic process, which restricts public finance to the study of market-based reactions to exogenous fiscal impositions. In contrast, Buchanan has cultivated an approach to public finance that incorporates the state into the economic process. The domain of fiscal analysis is thus expanded in two directions. One direction, public choice, involves the study of the effect of political institutions on collective choices. The other direction, constitutional political economy, involves the emergence of and changes in political institutions.


Bequest motive Buchanan, J. Constitutional political economy Constitutional vs. post-constitutional behaviour Decision costs External costs Fiscal institututions Free rider problem Knight, F. Majoritarianism Progressive and regressive taxation Public choice Public debt Ricardian equivalence State, size of Strategic behaviour Unanimity Voting rules Wicksell, K. 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard E. Wagner
    • 1
  1. 1.