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ISBN: 978-1-55844-165-1
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The Tiebout Model at Fifty

Essays in Public Economics in Honor of Wallace Oates

Edited by William A. Fischel

June 2006, English

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

The Tiebout Model at Fifty commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of Charles Tiebout’s enormously influential 1956 article, “A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures,” and honors the contributions of Wallace Oates as expositor and popularizer of the Tiebout model. While Tiebout’s hypothesis is the touchstone for the economic analysis of local government, Oates gave the theory empirical content and brought the idea into the realm of public economics. This insightful volume is edited by William A. Fischel, who also organized the conference in June 2005 at which the papers and commentaries were first presented. The conference was cosponsored by the Lincoln Institute and the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and Social Studies at Dartmouth College.

In his preface, Fischel states that Tiebout’s paper is the single most influential article in the field of public economics, at least if one measures influence by citations in scholarly journals. Tiebout proposed an alternative to the political process for determining the demand for local public goods. Households would reveal their preferences by choosing their residence among local governments. People would “vote with their feet” (not Tiebout’s term) instead of the ballot box, choosing the desired level of services among the many local governments that make up most American metropolitan areas. Tiebout’s is that rare paper whose influence has broadened with the passage of time.

This book reprints Tiebout’s classic paper, and several distinguished chapter authors and commentators evaluate the model’s ongoing influence on the disciplines of economics, law, and political science. Others present original research in the Tiebout-Oates tradition. They illuminate public policy issues such as exclusionary zoning, tax competition, school choice, constitutional federalism, fiscal equalization, and real estate capitalization.

About the Editor

William A. Fischel is a professor in the Department of Economics at Dartmouth College.


The model and its extensions in this book and elsewhere are particularly applicable to U.S. metropolitan areas because they are often comprised of many local governments from which footloose households can choose their desired place to live. Nevertheless, the book will be of interest to those who study local government in other countries.”

— Appeared in Urban Studies


Economics, Land Law, Local Government, Property Taxation, Public Finance, Public Policy, Taxation, Zoning