Edited and with an introduction by Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard
In this classic introductory public choice text, Gordon Tullock analyses the motives and activities of politicians, civil servants and voters. Government ‘servants’ can most likely be assumed to be pursuing their own interests, just like those in the private sector, although, given the coercive power of the state, the effects can be far from benign. The incentive structures present within public institutions mean that government action may well fail to improve economic welfare and frequently has results different from those intended.
The application of the ‘economic theory of politics’ effectively undermines the market failure approach to government policymaking, which relies on the assumption that benevolent and far-sighted governments are capable of clearing up the perceived failings of private markets.
This new edition includes a reflection by Gordon Tullock and commentaries by Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard, Charles K. Rowley, Stefan Voigt and Michael C. Munger. These contributions consider the impact of the original publication of The Vote Motive in 1976. Thirty years later, with public-sector bureaucracies retaining substantial control over large swathes of the economy, it is clear that policymakers still have much to learn from Tullock’s seminal work. ‘The Vote Motive has done more to spread the ideas of the public choice school than any other single work.’