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Sam Peltzman is one of the world's leading economists, and the essays in this collection are central to the modern canon in political economy. These ten articles and an original introduction respond to two broad questions: How does government work? How do voters and their elected representatives make decisions? Given the media's portrayal of the cynical political atmosphere in America, Peltzman's responses are rather surprising—the electorate really does make well-informed decisions and elected officials actually do tend to vote according to their constituents' interests. These conclusions bear the stamp of the Chicago approach to political economy (which applies microeconomic principles to political phenomena), an approach that has had considerable success explaining why certain government policies have not achieved their intended effects.
This collection reflects Peltzman's long career studying the interface between the private economy and the public sector. It will be essential to anyone who wishes to study government activity and voting behavior from an economic perspective.
Part One: Political Participation
1. Constituent Interest and Congressional Voting (1984)
2. An Economic Interpretation of the History of Congressional Voting in the Twentieth Century (1985)
3. Economic Conditions and Gubernatorial Elections (1987)
4. How Efficient Is the Voting Market? (1990)
5. Voters as Fiscal Conservatives (1992)
Part Two: Government and Regulation
6. Toward a More General Theory of Regulation (1976)
7. The Growth of Government (1980)
8. Current Developments in the Economics of Regulation (1981)
9. The Economic Theory of Regulation after a Decade of Deregulation (1989)
10. George Stigler's Contribution to the Economic Analysis of Regulation (1993)