THE WELFARE COSTS OF TARIFFS, MONOPOLIES, AND THEFT

THE WELFARE COSTS OF TARIFFS, MONOPOLIES, AND THEFT RICE UNIVERSITY In recent years a considerable number of studies have been published that purport to measure the welfare costs of monopolies and tariffs.’ The results have uniformly shown very small costs for practices that economists normally deplore. This led Mundell to comment in 1962 that “Unless there is a thorough theoretical re-examination of the validity of the tools upon which these studies are founded . . . someone will inevitably draw the conclusion that economics has ceased to be important.”’ Judging from conversations with graduate students, a number of younger economists are in fact drawing the conclusion that tariffs and monopolies are not of much importance. This view is now beginning to appear in the literature. On the basis of these measurements Professor Harvey Leibenstein has argued “Microeconomic theory focuses on allocative efKciency to the exclusion of other types of efiiaencies that, in fact, are much more significant in many instances.”’ It is my purpose to take the other route suggested by Mundell and demonstrate that the “tools on which these studies are founded” produce an underestimation of the welfare costs of taras and monopolies. The classical economists were not concerning themselves with trifles when they argued http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Economic Inquiry Wiley

THE WELFARE COSTS OF TARIFFS, MONOPOLIES, AND THEFT

Economic Inquiry, Volume 5 (3) – Jun 1, 1967

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 1967 Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
ISSN
0095-2583
eISSN
1465-7295
DOI
10.1111/j.1465-7295.1967.tb01923.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

RICE UNIVERSITY In recent years a considerable number of studies have been published that purport to measure the welfare costs of monopolies and tariffs.’ The results have uniformly shown very small costs for practices that economists normally deplore. This led Mundell to comment in 1962 that “Unless there is a thorough theoretical re-examination of the validity of the tools upon which these studies are founded . . . someone will inevitably draw the conclusion that economics has ceased to be important.”’ Judging from conversations with graduate students, a number of younger economists are in fact drawing the conclusion that tariffs and monopolies are not of much importance. This view is now beginning to appear in the literature. On the basis of these measurements Professor Harvey Leibenstein has argued “Microeconomic theory focuses on allocative efKciency to the exclusion of other types of efiiaencies that, in fact, are much more significant in many instances.”’ It is my purpose to take the other route suggested by Mundell and demonstrate that the “tools on which these studies are founded” produce an underestimation of the welfare costs of taras and monopolies. The classical economists were not concerning themselves with trifles when they argued

Journal

Economic InquiryWiley

Published: Jun 1, 1967

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