First published in 1982, Introduction to Political Economy is a clear and concise introduction to the normative aspects of economics by one of the world’s leading authorities on the subject. In this highly readable book, Professor Mishan takes the student to the heart of the subject without recourse to algebra and with only the simplest of diagrams. The author carefully distinguishes the various meanings of the terms political economy, normative economics, welfare economics and allocative economics. He considers the standard allocation rules and the crucial concepts of consumer surplus and rent, which are so important to cost-benefit analysis, while then going on to resolve the paradoxes of the efficiency criterion. Lastly, Professor Mishan assesses both the social worth of radical conservatism, which is associated with the Chicago School of Economics, and the relevance of the modern theory of welfare economics to social welfare.
Part One: The agenda of the political economy 1. Introductory observations 2. The resistance to a prescriptive economics 3. The nature of the economist’s efficiency criterion 4. The rationale of the economist’s efficiency criterion 5. Things to come: a preview 6. The basic economic assumptions Part Two: Allocation within a partial economic context 7. Uses and limitations of a partial economic context 8. The key concepts of social value and social opportunity cost 9. Consumer surplus: a measure of welfare change 10. The difficulty of measuring rent 11. The allocative virtues of a competitive economy 12. Marginal cost pricing 13. Second best and third best Part Three: Collective goods and bads 14. Can the market cope with externalities? 15. Diminishing returns to agriculture as an instance of externalities 16. Environmental spillovers: what difference does the law make? 17. Non-environmental spillovers: some ethical questions 18. Favourable spillovers and collective goods Part Four: Resource allocation within a general context 19. Uses of a general economic context 20. Optimality for the economy 21. What is an efficient distribution of goods? 22. Economic efficiency: a paradox 23. Pareto optimality: an empty vessel 24. Resolving the apparent paradox Part Five: Sources of economic failure in a technological age 25. Introductory remarks 26. The folklore of the market 1 27. The folklore of the market 2 28. Economic expertise in an age of rapid innovation 29. The limits of abundance: a conservative critique 1 30. The limits of abundance: a conservative critique 2 31. Concluding remarks
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