Constitutional political economy is the theme of the papers collected in this volume. This entire area of contemporary economic thought is a legacy of James M. Buchanan.
In outlining the importance of this volume to the contemporary study of economics and to the work of James M. Buchanan, Robert D. Tollison states in his foreword, “Buchanan literally founded the field of constitutional political economy. . . . [His] insistence on the importance of rules was an important innovation in economics, and, over the past thirty years or so, the analytical and empirical relevance of Buchanan’s constitutional perspective has become apparent.”
The thirty-five papers represented in this volume are grouped into these major subject categories:
2.The Method of Constitutional Economics
3.Incentives and Constitutional Choice
7.Fiscal and Monetary Constitutions
For Buchanan, his work in constitutional political economy is just the first step. He is concerned with inducing economists and other scholars to take the constitutional problem seriously. As they do, says Robert D. Tollison, “the face of modern economics will be changed.”
The term Constitutional Economics (Constitutional Political Economy) was introduced to define and to classify a distinct strand of research inquiry and related policy disclosure in the 1970s and beyond. The subject matter is not new or novel, and it may be argued that $constitutional economics” is more closely related to the work and the classical economists than its modern $non-constitutional$ counterpart. Both areas of inquiry involve positive analysis that is ultimately aimed at contributing to the discussion of policy questions. The difference lies in the level of or setting for analysis which, in turn, implies communication with different audiences.”
James M. Buchanan
In 1986 James M. Buchanan (1919-2012) was awarded the Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Universally respected as one of the founders of the “public choice” school of economics, he is the author of numerous books and hundreds of articles in the areas of public finance, public choice, constitutional economics and economic philosophy. He is best known for such works as The Calculus of Consent, The Limits of Liberty, The Power to Tax, and The Reason of Rules. Buchanan has devoted himself to the study of the contractual and constitutional basis for the theory of economic and political decision making.
See also at Econlib: the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics entry on Buchanan