Public Finance and Wisconsin Institutionalism, 1892-1929
This paper examines the development of public finance as a subfield of study at the University of Wisconsin from 1892 through 1929. Considered is the historical evolution of faculty and course work in public finance at Wisconsin, with comparisons offered to Harvard, Chicago and Columbia. While Wisconsin economists made notable contributions to both the theory and practice of public finance in the United States during this period, we conclude that the failure to develop a particularly "Wisconsin Institutionalist" version was due to (1) the absence of a dominant proponent/advocate during a pivotal time, (2) the necessity to differentiate graduate programs, (3) the number of competing subject areas providing contemporary economics problems to study, and (4) the co-opting of the department of economics at Wisconsin to serve Commons's labor research program.
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