NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Public Critique of Welfare Economics: An Exploration

Timothy Besley, Stephen Coate

NBER Working Paper No. 7083
Issued in April 1999
NBER Program(s):   PE

The welfare economic method for analyzing the case for government intervention is often criticized for ignoring the political determination of policies. While many economists accept the thrust of this critique, exactly when and how political determination interferes with a welfare economic analysis is not well understood. This paper explores the logic of the critique in a specific context, demonstrating how political determination of policy affects the case for government intervention. We show that one form of intervention is likely to have an impact on others through the political process. These spillover effects may even provide a justification for interventions that the welfare economic approach would reject.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w7083

Published: Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2003. " On the Public Choice Critique of Welfare Economics," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 114(3-4), pages 253-73, March.

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