A Look Back at Paul Samuelson’s Seminal Contribution to Public Economics

December 13, 2009

Nobel laureate and well-known American economist Paul Samuelson passed away earlier today (Sunday, December 13, 2009).

While Samuelson made many contributions to various areas of economics, one of his most well-known contributions was in the field of public economics. Samuelson’s The Theory of Public Expenditure is essentially the framework for public economics. That is, the general role for a welfare-maximizing government is the optimal provision of goods that are underprovided by the private sector (i.e. public goods).

This influential yet short piece (only 3 pages) is available here. Note that some of what is in this piece by Samuelson is derived from his magnum opus, Foundations of Economic Analysis.

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