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Mises, bastiat, public opinion, and public choice


  • Bryan Caplan
  • Edward Stringham


The political economy of Ludwig von Mises and Frederic Bastiat has been largely ignored even by their admirers. We argue that Mises' and Bastiat's views in this area were both original and insightful. While traditional public choice generally maintains that democracy fails because voters' views are rational but ignored, the Mises-Bastiat view is that democracy fails because voters' views are irrational but heeded. Mises and Bastiat anticipate many of the most effective criticisms of traditional public choice to emerge during the last decade and point to many avenues for future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Bryan Caplan & Edward Stringham, 2005. "Mises, bastiat, public opinion, and public choice," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(1), pages 79-105.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:17:y:2005:i:1:p:79-105 DOI: 10.1080/0953825042000313825

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Caplan, Bryan, 2001. "What Makes People Think Like Economists? Evidence on Economic Cognition from the "Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy."," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 395-426, October.
    2. Bryan Caplan, 2002. "Systematically Biased Beliefs About Economics: Robust Evidence of Judgemental Anomalies from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 433-458, April.
    3. Sheffrin,Steven M., 1996. "Rational Expectations," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521479394, March.
    4. Charles K. Rowley, 1994. "Public choice economics," Chapters,in: The Elgar Companion to Austrian Economics, chapter 41 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Wittman, Donald, 1989. "Why Democracies Produce Efficient Results," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1395-1424, December.
    6. John Charles Bradbury & W. Mark Crain, 2002. "Bicameral Legislatures and Fiscal Policy," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 68(3), pages 646-659, January.
    7. Bryan Caplan, 2000. "Rational Irrationality: A Framework for the Neoclassical-Behavioral Debate," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 191-211, Spring.
    8. Robert J. Blendon, 1997. "Bridging the Gap between the Public's and Economists' Views of the Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 105-118, Summer.
    9. Paul H. Rubin, 2003. "Folk Economics," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 70(1), pages 157-171, July.
    10. Kenneth F. Scheve & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2001. "Globalization and the Perceptions of American Workers," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 109.
    11. Gary S. Becker, 1983. "A Theory of Competition Among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mark C. Schug & Dwight R. Lee, 2012. "Why Economic Education Is Dangerous for Politicians," Journal of Private Enterprise, The Association of Private Enterprise Education, vol. 28(Fall 2012), pages 47-60.
    2. Edward Peter Stringham, 2010. "Toward a Libertarian Strategy for Academic Change: The Movement Building of Peter Boettke," Journal of Private Enterprise, The Association of Private Enterprise Education, vol. 26(Fall 2010), pages 1-12.
    3. Edward Stringham & Caleb Miles, 2012. "Repelling states: Evidence from upland Southeast Asia," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 25(1), pages 17-33, March.
    4. Vicini, Andrea, 2011. "The Public Choice and the traditional view of political science," MPRA Paper 60238, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Oct 2014.
    5. Niclas Berggren & Christian Bjørnskov & David Lipka, 2015. "Legitimacy and the cost of government," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 162(3), pages 307-328, March.
    6. Anthony Evans, 2014. "A subjectivist’s solution to the limits of public choice," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 27(1), pages 23-44, March.
    7. Facchini, François & Melki, Mickaël, 2013. "Efficient government size: France in the 20th century," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 1-14.
    8. François Facchini & Mickaël Melki, 2011. "Optimal government size and economic growth in France (1871-2008) : An explanation by the State and market failures," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00654363, HAL.
    9. Williamson, Claudia R., 2012. "Dignity and development," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 763-771.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • B53 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Austrian
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism


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