Review of Richard E. Wagner: Fiscal Sociology and the Theory of Public Finance

This is a review of Richard Wagner's "Fiscal Sociology and the Theory of Public Finance."

Richard Wagner’s Fiscal Sociology and the Theory of Public Finance pushes the Austrian approach to social science further than previous economic analyses of the state. Subtitled “An Exploratory Essay,” it reads more like a manifesto for a budding research program than an exposition of particular propositions. Over the course of eight chapters, Wagner outlines the contours of a theory of state activity. The orientation is self-consciously Mengerian(p. 41), but also draws on the broadly continental approach to public finance from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (e.g., Wicksell,De Viti de Marco), as contrasted with the dominant British approach(e.g., Edgeworth, Pigou) that dominates mainstream public finance. And of course, though explicitly titled as a work in public finance, Wagner remains closer to the Virginia school of public choice that he helped develop and propagate.

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