'Dull, Unimaginative, and Extremely Limited' Becomes Modern Public Economics

25 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2015 Last revised: 2 Dec 2015

See all articles by Marianne Johnson

Marianne Johnson

University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh - Department of Economics

Date Written: October 29, 2015

Abstract

This paper identifies three major shifts that happened in public finance that explain the radical changes in theory and practice witnessed between the start of the Great Depression and the end of the Second World War. These included (1) the replacement of philosophical considerations of ‘justice in taxation’ with formal mathematical modeling; (2) the expansion of tax policy beyond merely raising revenue to address other policy goals; (3) the incorporation of expenditures into public finance theory. What happened in public finance was an important piece of the bigger story of post-war economics; the economic and sociological forces that shaped the subdiscipline of public finance make it a good case study for the larger changes throughout the field.

Keywords: History of Public Finance, Institutionalism, Postwar Tax Policy, Harold Groves, Henry Simons, Roy Blough

JEL Classification: B15, B21, H20

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Marianne, 'Dull, Unimaginative, and Extremely Limited' Becomes Modern Public Economics (October 29, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2683463 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2683463

Marianne Johnson (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh - Department of Economics ( email )

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