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Adolph Wagner und sein "Gesetz": einige spaete Anmerkungen


  • Dluhosch, Barbara

    () (Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg)

  • Zimmermann, Klaus W.

    () (Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg)


Starting from the secular fact of an increasing government's share, a retrospective on Adolph Wagner's writings seems worthwhile. A leading German economist of the Bismarck era, he first formulated the famous "law of increasing state activity" for industrializing nations. After analyzing his way of making his case, a couple of flaws inherent to the theoretical interpretations and empirical verifications of his law are discussed. Basically, these flaws are attributable to the neglect of three important factors in Wagner's rationale, namely that his law was destined for industrializing rather than industrialized nations and the growing importance of public enterprises and of the prevention principle instead of repressive actions of the state in case of violation of rules. On the other hand, very modern interpretations of Wagner suggesting that he had the growing excess burden of taxation in mind when discussing the limits of government's share do not seem justified.

Suggested Citation

  • Dluhosch, Barbara & Zimmermann, Klaus W., 2008. "Adolph Wagner und sein "Gesetz": einige spaete Anmerkungen," Working Paper 85/2008, Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:vhsuwp:2008_085

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Andreas Arnauld & Klaus Zimmermann, 2013. "Regulating government (’s share): the fifty-percent rule of the federal constitutional court in Germany," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 1-19, February.

    More about this item


    Wagner's Law; public expenditure; government's share;

    JEL classification:

    • B13 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Neoclassical through 1925 (Austrian, Marshallian, Walrasian, Wicksellian)
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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