IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

'Public goods' before Samuelson: interwar Finanzwissenschaft and Musgrave's synthesis

Listed author(s):
  • Richard Sturn

This paper is concerned with the foundations of modern Public Economics, in particular of concepts related to the justification of public activities and the properties of public economy mechanisms. As a first approximation, Public Economics a la Musgrave can be understood as a synthesis of Pigovian Public Finance and the Wicksell-Lindahl tradition. Musgrave's intellectual background includes a more encompassing and differentiated spectrum of influences, including elements from German communal traditions, fiscal sociology, Austrian marginal utility theory, and Italian Public Finance. German language Finanzwissenschaft in the interwar period was a fertile environment for new combinations. German-educated US economists Richard Musgrave and Gerhard Colm transformed seeds from this environment into lasting achievements. Their acquaintance with the broad range of approaches characteristic of interwar Finanzwissenschaft was a necessary condition for the role they played in the development of modern Public Economics. Moreover, Musgrave's influence on modern Public Economics is an example of how the dissemination of innovations is enhanced by a suitable expository framework. By contrast, the conceptual gap between Anglo-Saxon Public Economics and Gerhard Colm's version of a synthesis (even though the latter influenced or paralleled the Musgravian synthesis in important respects) prevented its swift absorption.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought.

Volume (Year): 17 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 279-312

in new window

Handle: RePEc:taf:eujhet:v:17:y:2010:i:2:p:279-312
DOI: 10.1080/09672560903320084
Contact details of provider: Web page:

Order Information: Web:

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:eujhet:v:17:y:2010:i:2:p:279-312. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.