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The cameralists: A public choice perspective


  • Juergen Backhaus
  • Richard Wagner


We think that cameralism offers much interesting material to public choice scholars. Treated purely as a matter of intellectual history, cameralist thought reflects an integrated treatment of considerations that today are commonly apportioned among the disciplines of economics, political science, and public administration. The unified cameralist perspective centered on the theory and practice of statecraft should surely be congenial to public choice scholars. But there is also much opportunity for scholarship on the economic and political history of the German states during the cameralist period. While we have suggested that the various German states constituted what might be considered a competitive industry in the provision of collective services, comparatively little is known about how the various economic and political processes actually operated during this period. For instance, rules of dynastical succession surely conflict with the competitive model; there is little dynastical succession in economic life. Our quick, and far from complete reading of the history suggests that there may have been much less dynastical succession than is commonly believed, and that the management of states changed hands more frequently than commonly thought. A prince who mismanaged his country frequently had to mortgage its revenue sources, or even parts of the entire country, to a more successful competitor. Similarly, treaties of succession would establish claims on the prince's throne after his death. But we have little solid evidence to offer about this; we do think, though, that public choice scholarship could bring many valuable insights to bear on this period. Indeed, the various writers within the German Historical School have in many cases left a rich legacy concerning political economy to which public choice scholars could bring valuable perspectives and fresh questions. Copyright Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 1987

Suggested Citation

  • Juergen Backhaus & Richard Wagner, 1987. "The cameralists: A public choice perspective," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 53(1), pages 3-20, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:53:y:1987:i:1:p:3-20
    DOI: 10.1007/BF00115651

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gary S. Becker & George J. Stigler, 1974. "Law Enforcement, Malfeasance, and Compensation of Enforcers," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 1-18, January.
    2. Sonstelie, Jon C. & Portney, Paul R., 1978. "Profit maximizing communities and the theory of local public expenditure," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 263-277, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jurgen Backhaus, 1997. "Christian Wolff on Subsidiarity, the Division of Labor, and Social Welfare," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 129-146, May.
    2. Jaelani, Aan, 2018. "Public expenditure management in Indonesia: Islamic economic review on state budget 2017," MPRA Paper 87025, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 02 May 2018.
    3. Alexander William Salter, 2016. "Post-Cameralist Governance: Towards a Robust Political Economy of Bureaucracy," Economic Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(3), pages 294-308, October.
    4. repec:eee:exehis:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:1-20 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Deegen Peter, 2013. "Die Stellung der Tharandter Theorien der forstlichen Nachhaltigkeit in Hayeks Klassifikation der Formen menschlicher Ordnung / The relation among the Tharandt-based theories of forest sustainability a," ORDO. Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, De Gruyter, vol. 64(1), pages 79-98, January.
    6. Wagner, Richard E., 2005. "Self-governance, polycentrism, and federalism: recurring themes in Vincent Ostrom's scholarly oeuvre," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 173-188, June.
    7. Alexander William Salter, 2015. "A Monarchical Perspective on Constitucional Governance: H.S.H. Price Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein and The State in the Third Millennium," Journal of Private Enterprise, The Association of Private Enterprise Education, vol. 30(Spring 20), pages 121-130.
    8. Blankart, Charles B:, 2014. "The Great Schism in the Theory of Public Finance. A Treatise in the Theory of Economic Thought," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100461, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    9. Jaelani, Aan, 2017. "Manajemen pengeluaran publik di Indonesia: Tinjauan ekonomi Islam pada APBN 2017
      [Public expenditure management in Indonesia: Islamic economic review on state budget 2017]
      ," MPRA Paper 77423, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 07 Mar 2017.
    10. Backhaus Jürgen G., 1997. "Co-Determination in Germany: 1949-1979 and There Beyond: Bonding or Compulsion?," Research Memorandum 011, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
    11. Michael A. Clemens, 2011. "Economics and Emigration: Trillion-Dollar Bills on the Sidewalk?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 83-106, Summer.

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