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On the Definition of Public Goods. Assessing Richard A. Musgrave's contribution

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  • Maxime Desmarais-Tremblay

    () (Centre Walras-Pareto - UNIL - Université de Lausanne, CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Abstract

This paper provides an explanation of the emergence of the standars textbook definition of public goods in the middle of the 20th century. It focuses on Richard Musgrave's contribution in defining public goods as non-rival and non-excludable - from 1939 to 1969. Although Samuelson's mathematical definition is generally used in models of public goods, the qualitative understanding of the specificity of pure public goods owes more to Musgrave's emphasis on the impossibility of exclusion. This paper also highlights the importance of the size of the group to which benefits of a public good accrue. This analysis allow for a reassessment of the Summary table of goods which first appeared in Musgrave and Musgrave (1973) textbook.

Suggested Citation

  • Maxime Desmarais-Tremblay, 2014. "On the Definition of Public Goods. Assessing Richard A. Musgrave's contribution," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00951577, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:cesptp:halshs-00951577 Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00951577
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Richard Abel Musgrave, 1941. "The Planning Approach in Public Economy: A Reply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(2), pages 319-324.
    2. Alfred C. Neal, 1940. "The "Planning Approach" in Public Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(2), pages 246-254.
    3. Maxime Desmarais-Tremblay, 2014. "Normative and positive theories of public finance: contrasting Musgrave and Buchanan," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(3), pages 273-289, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mehrdad Vahabi, 2017. "Coercive state, resisting society, political and economic development in Iran," CEPN Working Papers 2017-17, Centre d'Economie de l'Université de Paris Nord.
    2. Mehrdad Vahabi, 2016. "A positive theory of the predatory state," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 168(3), pages 153-175, September.
    3. Marius Buchmann, 2016. "Information Management in Smart Grids - the need for decentralized governance approaches," Bremen Energy Working Papers 0025, Bremen Energy Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    non-exclusion; non-rivalry; Richard A. Musgrave; social goods; public goods; biens sociaux; non-rivalité; biens collectifs;

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • B29 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Other
    • A22 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - Undergraduate

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