Austrian Economics and Economic Policy

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This chapter examines the relationship between Austrian economics and economic policy. The early Austrian economists were not much concerned with policy in their academic writings, and their policy views were not appreciably different from those of other early marginalists. Only after the socialist calculation debate did a later generation of Austrian economists progressively develop a distinctive approach to economic policy. That approach considers economic policies and institutions in light of their (in)congruity with broad principles, most notably the idea that knowledge is dispersed and incomplete. In the 1960s and 1970s, several insights of the later Austrian School were integrated into other “schools,” such as Public Choice and New Institutional Economics. The integration, however, was not total, and an emphasis on “knowledge problems” in the context of economic policies and institutions remains a distinctive feature of the contemporary Austrian School.