Economic Analysis of Political Problems

Reprinted in Edward C. Banfield, Here the People Rule: Selected Essays (Washington, DC: AEI, 1991).


My main contentions are (1) social choice processes differ in their logical structures; economics deals with one category (“aggregation”), political science with another (“politics”); (2) aggregation processes are analyzable in terms of a general deductive theory and equilibrium models, whereas political processes are not; (3) except for exchange in the market, concrete choice processes rarely involve aggregation; (4) the conceptual framework used in analyzing aggregation processes—a utilitarian one—is unsuitable for normative purposes and insufficient for conditionally normative ones; and (5) there is need to study various social choice processes as mechanisms for realizing various conceptions of social welfare.

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