Garett Jones  

How to Pronounce Tiebout and More

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From William Fischel's brief biography of the Connecticut-born economist. Fischel spoke with Charles Tiebout's family and friends, so this statement deserves weight: 

If I could offer but one contribution to his memory, let it be to induce economists to pronounce his name correctly: It is "TEE-bow," the unstressed syllable sounding like the bow of cellos and arrows.

Just like the football player.  

Tiebout argued that local governments might be relatively efficient because citizens could vote with their feet, they could use exit instead of voice in Hirschman's expression.  Tiebout's paper raised the status of local government, then at a low:

The first edition of Samuelson's introductory [economics] text treats local government in an altogether condescending way...The fragmentation of local government was almost uniformly decried by academics and other commentators in the 1950s.

The essay also discusses the Buchanan/Goetz contribution to the TEE-bow debate--they argued, in Fischel's words, that "the poor would endlessly chase the rich around the metropolitan area in a Tiebout model." Bruce Hamilton's response was that zoning would stop that.  

And then there's this, about Tiebout's (TEE-bowz) father, Harry: 

Harry was a psychiatrist and was famous as the first of his profession to endorse the methods of Alcoholics Anonymous. ("Bill W.," the co-founder of AA, was one of his patients.)


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CATEGORIES: Public Choice Theory



COMMENTS (3 to date)
david writes:

The major problem with Tiebout funding is that it works for quasi-public goods but not redistribution, as your own posts on progressive taxation and Tiebout have pointed out - and the moderate economist's political consensus is built around making these the one and the same thing.

'We' deserve public goods because 'we' are fellow citizens, etc., and Tiebout destroys the illusion of common nationality and welcomes Balkanization.

Justin Ross writes:

To clarify this post a little bit further, Tiebout's model was used to demonstrate that mobility solved the "revealed preference" problem of public goods. The paper itself had little to do with competition among local governments where mobility constraints induced their efficiency, but rather efficiency was mostly achieved by households moving into districts where provision patterns matched their own preference levels (constrained somewhat by congestion costs around a fixed asset). Samuelson had previously given the impression the revealed preference could not be solved for public goods, and Tiebout pushed back with the argument that mobility patterns were (at least partially) a solution to the revealed preference problem.

Note also that the title Tiebout's seminal paper (A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures) was a direct parody of Samuelson's public good paper (A Pure Theory of Public Expenditures).

MatthewH writes:

The original Tiebout article doesn't address mobility constraints producing local efficiency, but his 1961 article with Vincent Ostrom and Robert Warren does.

http://localgov.fsu.edu/readings_papers/Service%20Delivery/Ostrom_Tiebout_Warren_The_Organization_of_Government.pdf

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