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The origins of Buchanan's views on federalism, Chicago 1946–1947

Alain Marciano

Journal of Institutional Economics, 2020, vol. 16, issue 3, 319-335

Abstract: Buchanan's first writings about federalism and fiscal justice were “'Federalism’: One Barrier to Labor Mobility” and “A Theory of Financial Balance in a Federal State,” two term papers that he wrote before his dissertation and that have never been discussed before. Studying them allows us to complete the recent literature on the origins of Buchanan's fiscal federalism. We show that most of Buchanan's ideas about fiscal equity were already in these works, and also that Buchanan made other claims and used other arguments – about mobility, for instance – that were absent from the dissertation but remained important to him for a long time. We also analyze these essays in the context in which Buchanan was at that time, namely the economics department of the University of Chicago. We show how Buchanan fed on, not to say was influenced by, the courses for which he wrote these essays. This allows us to shed new light on the role Theodore Schultz, D. Gale Johnson, Henry Simons, and Roy Blough, played at the beginning of Buchanan's career.

Date: 2020
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