Presumptions in Political Economy: Alternative Approaches for Assessing the Economic Role of the State

The Economic Role of the State, Forthcoming

GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 15-17

31 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2014 Last revised: 8 Mar 2015

Peter J. Boettke

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Peter T. Leeson

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Date Written: December 14, 2014

Abstract

We conceive of political economy, historical and contemporary, as reflecting sometimes competing and other times complementary assessments of the appropriate role of the state in economic life grounded in alternative approaches to the paradox of government. We call these differing approaches and the conclusions they generate political-economic presumptions.

This introduction is devoted to, in broad and sweeping terms, describing the major presumptions that have characterized political economy since the field’s inception. Our chief division has three parts: what we call the “laissez-faire presumption,” which dominated political economy in the 18th and early 19th centuries; the “market-failure presumption,” which dominated political economy from the late 19th until the mid-20th century, and the “government-failure presumption,” which broke the domination of the market-failure presumption in political economy in the latter 20th century. Additionally, we consider a fourth political-economic presumption we call the “anarchy presumption.” Unlike the other presumptions we consider, the anarchy presumption is not an established political-economic approach. However, it offers an interesting and, we think, important alternative deserving of further consideration by contemporary political economists.

Keywords: Political Economy, Laissez-faire, Market Failure, Government Failure, presumption of anarchy

JEL Classification: B12; B13; B20; H10; Y20

Suggested Citation

Boettke, Peter J. and Leeson, Peter T., Presumptions in Political Economy: Alternative Approaches for Assessing the Economic Role of the State (December 14, 2014). The Economic Role of the State, Forthcoming; GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 15-17. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2538169 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2538169

Peter J. Boettke (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
703-993-1149 (Phone)
703-993-1133 (Fax)

Peter T. Leeson

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.peterleeson.com

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