Herschel I. Grossman

Brown University

Herschel I. Grossman, professor of economics at Brown University, will compare the usefulness of two competing visions of the state and the economic policies it pursues. The state can be conceptualized as an agent of the citizenry, allocating public resources according to the collective interest. Alternatively, the state can be thought of as an instrument of a ruling elite who claim the tax revenues of the state, much as the owners of a proprietary enterprise claim the profits. Grossman hypothesizes that the second description of the state may be more accurate, but the first offers a useful standard for judging the state's performance. Under the right conditions, Grossman shows that the threat of removal from office and the state's need to maintain credibility can prompt the ruling elite to act as if it were serving the interests of the citizenry.

 

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