The Economics of Edwin Chadwick: Incentives Matter

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9781781005033: The Economics of Edwin Chadwick: Incentives Matter
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Sir Edwin Chadwick (1800-1890) is hardly a household name among economists, although he is a well-known hero to sanitation engineers and utilitarian social reformers. His brilliant and cunning ideas relating to contemporary economic policy are illuminated for the first time in this pioneering study.

The authors detail Chadwick's sophisticated conceptions of moral hazard, common pool problems, asymmetric information, and theory of competition, all of which differ starkly from those promulgated by Adam Smith and other classical economists. Also examined are Chadwick's views on government versus market role in dealing with problems created by natural monopoly, and whether some or all market problems justify government regulation or alterations of property rights. The authors investigate Chadwick's utilitarian approach to labor, business cycles, and economic growth, contrasting his modern view with those of his classical economic contemporaries.

Chadwick's enormous output and cutting-edge methods undoubtedly establish him as an original and trenchant thinker in economic matters as well as a prophetic voice on contemporary issues in economics. This unique look at his less familiar research will interest academic regulatory economists, sociologists, students and scholars of law and economics, and all those interested in the fundamentals of social reform.

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About the Author:

Robert B. Ekelund Jr., Professor and Eminent Scholar Emeritus in Economics, Auburn University, US and Edward O. Price III, Professor Emeritus, Oklahoma State University, US

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Economists owe a great debt to Ekelund and Price for making us aware of Edwin Chadwick's seminal contributions. Chadwick lived in the middle of the 19th century, but he anticipated many of the theoretical and practical advances that culminated in the law and economics revolution of the late 20th century. These include Coase's analysis of social cost and Demsetz's proposal for franchise bidding in natural monopolies. Read the summary of Chadwick's ideas about railroads and consider that Britain adopted many of them but only more than a century later (while the US continues to wallow in ignorance). The book is full of similar examples where Chadwick's prescience is extraordinary. Economists, legal scholars and practitioners, especially those working at the intersection of law and economics, will want to read this book.'
--- Sam Peltzman, University of Chicago, US

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