The Relaunching of “Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice”

I think it is fair to say that the Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice is a relatively unknown journal. The journal represented the efforts of its founding editor, Domenico da Empoli, to continue ensuring an outlet for those who pursued the study of public finance in the Italian tradition that came to be of such prominence in the late 19th and early 20th century (Puviani [1903] is still probably the go-to citation for history of thought in fiscal illusion research) and carried on by the likes of Jim Buchanan and Richard Wagner. If you haven’t already, you should read about the Italian tradition and its contrast with Walrasian/Pareto/Musgrave public finance in Wagner’s Fiscal Sociology and the Theory of Public Finance.

If you peruse old issues of the JPFPC you will see many familiar and well-known names that suggested it commanded some serious consideration and attention, but at some point the journal became somewhat erratic in its publication frequency and had a rather out-dated submission process for authors. In 2008, as a new assistant professor, I decided to send a paper written just prior to my dissertation that was on the subject of lobbying in state capitals. I had to physically mail two copies to the editorial office in Italy (in 2008!), and then received no notifications about its receipt or standing at any point over the next two years. In 2010, I got an email where I was told to expect to receive three copies of the journal issue the paper was printed in, and the journal itself was printed as part of the 2009 volume.

Well, it appears the journal is undergoing a relaunch with new caretakers, a new publisher, and a contemporary submission process. The editorial board includes the likes of Barry Weingast, James Alm, Richard Wagner, and John Wallis, among many others. Wagner has written an essay about the journal and its efforts to extend the Italian Tradition of Public Finance. Here is an excerpt from Wagner’s essay:

Like de Viti, Buchanan wanted to treat public finance as a field of scientific study and not as an administrative tool of practical statecraft. While these orientations are antipodal, they are not contradictory. It is possible for a theorist to pursue both orientations if he or she chooses to do so, only not at the same instant. An explanatory theory of public finance has as its object the explanation of fiscal phenomena as these emerge through interaction among interested persons, with those interactions occurring within some governing institutional framework. It seeks to explain the transnational logic that undergirds observed budgetary patterns.

Check out the JPFPC’s website here.

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