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Land and Rent in Welfare Economics

In the classical synthesis, human welfare and land rent were two parts of an integrated philosophy. As Smith, Mill, Marshall, and especially Ricardo scan us from their present eyries they must note with shock two virtually separate disciplines tagged “land economics” and “welfare economics.” The first has come to connote Wisconsin Institutionalism with its skepticism of marginal analysis, its emphasis on evolution, its earthy pragmatism and inductive reasoning. The second designates a rarefied a priori Scholasticism that proceeds from sanitary postulates through tangencies and equations to anything from sweeping reforms to nagging doubts about the value of any economics. The division of the two constitutes an indefensible compartmentalization of thought, and the writer does not favor either over the other. Rather he suggests some paths toward reintegration.

In Marion Clawson, Marshall Harriss and Joseph Ackerman (eds.) Land Economics Research. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1962. Pp. 141-67.

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