Skip to main content

Steven G. Medema

George Family Research Professor
Economics
Box 90097, Durham, NC 27708
07D Social Sciences Bldg., Box 90097, Durham, NC 27708

Selected Publications


IDENTIFYING A "cHICAGO SCHOOL" of ECONOMICS: On the ORIGINS, DIFFUSION, and EVOLVING MEANINGS of A FAMOUS NAME BRAND

Journal Article Journal of the History of Economic Thought · January 1, 2023 Though the Chicago school has been the subject of no small amount of research over the past several decades, that scholarship has focused largely on persons, ideas, and influence - in short, on the school itself. No attention has been paid to the origins o ... Full text Cite

Theorising public expenditures: welfare theorems, market failures, and the turn from “public finance” to “public economics”

Journal Article European Journal of the History of Economic Thought · January 1, 2023 Public expenditure theory is a late-comer to the field of public finance, despite laments over the lack of such a theory dating to the late 1800s. This paper documents and attempts to explain this transformation, locating its origins in Richard Musgrave’s ... Full text Cite

Between LSE and Cambridge: Accounting for Ronald Coase’s Fascination with Alfred Marshall

Chapter · January 1, 2021 For most economists at Chicago, Marshall was simply an input, the supplier of an approach to economic analysis. For Ronald Coase, however, Marshall was much more than this—a subject of fascination and, at times, almost a reverence and obsession. Trained in ... Full text Cite

Introduction

Book · January 1, 2021 Cite

The coase theorem at sixty

Journal Article Journal of Economic Literature · December 1, 2020 The Coase theorem is one of the most influential and controversial ideas to emerge from post-World War II economics. This article examines the theorem's origins, diffusion, and the wide variety of uses to which it has been put by economists and others over ... Full text Cite

Embracing at arm's length: Ronald Coase's uneasy relationship with the Chicago school

Journal Article Oxford Economic Papers · October 1, 2020 This paper takes up Ronald Coase's views on the Chicago school, as found in his published and, especially, unpublished writings. Coase's personal and professional papers, recently opened for examination in the University of Chicago's Regenstein Library, re ... Full text Cite

“Exceptional and Unimportant”? Externalities, Competitive Equilibrium, and the Myth of a Pigovian Tradition

Journal Article History of Political Economy · February 1, 2020 The notion of a Pigovian tradition in externality theory, against which Ronald Coase and others reacted beginning in the 1960s, has a long history. This article, though, suggests that the literature of economics evidences no such tradition, and that the di ... Full text Cite

The economist and the economist's audience

Journal Article Journal of the History of Economic Thought · September 1, 2019 Full text Cite

Introduction to economics as a public science. Part II: Institutional settings

Journal Article OEconomia · September 1, 2019 This issue of Œconomia contains the second set of essays that emerged from the conference “Economics and Public Reason” hosted in May 2018 at the Centre Walras-Pareto for the History of Economic and Political Thought at the University of Lausanne. ... Full text Cite

Introduction to economics as a public science

Journal Article OEconomia · June 1, 2019 This short article introduces readers to the papers published in this issue on the theme of “public reason” in economics. It provides ground to the notion of “public reason” in economics as a two-way process taking place in interstitial spaces between econ ... Full text Cite

Gardiner C. Means: Institutionalist and post Keynesian

Book · January 1, 2019 Gardiner Means has a secure place in the history of 20th century economic thought, as the co-author with A.A.Berle of “The Modern Corporation and Private Property”. But according to Samuels and Medema, Means should be remembered for major contributions in ... Full text Cite

Disciplinary collisions: Blum, Kalven and the economic analysis of accident law at Chicago in the 1960s

Chapter · January 1, 2019 The University of Chicago occupies a central place in the history of Law and Economics. To this point, however, scant attention has been given in the literature to how the prospect of an economic analysis of law was received within the law school at Chicag ... Full text Cite

Jacob Viner: Lectures in economics 301

Book · January 1, 2017 This book presents, for the first time, a detailed transcription of Jacob Viner’s Economics 301 class as taught in 1930. These lecture notes provide insight into the legacy of Jacob Viner, whose seminal contributions to fields such as international economi ... Full text Cite

His influence in the Anglo-Saxon world

Chapter · January 1, 2016 Q. What could you tell us about the influence of the Italian public finance school in general on the Anglo-American economic thought? What happened was that because so little of the Italian literature was translated into English, the diffusion of this lite ... Full text Cite

'A magnificent business prospect' the Coase theorem, the extortion problem, and the creation of Coase theorem worlds

Journal Article Journal of Institutional Economics · June 6, 2015 The Coase theorem, circa the 1970s, had no settled meaning or content; instead, that meaning and content was created - and in differing ways - by the modeling choices of scholars who attempted to grapple with and assess the proposition that Coase had laid ... Full text Cite

Economic rebel in retrospect

Journal Article Journal of Economic Methodology · January 9, 2015 © 2015 Taylor & Francis Mark Blaug's contributions to economics were many and significant. This essay provides a review of Mark Blaug: Rebel with Many Causes (2014), edited by Marcel Boumans and Matthias Klaes, which collects papers from a set of confere ... Full text Cite

Crossing the atlantic with calabresi and coase: Efficiency, distribution, and justice at the origins of economic analysis of law in Britain

Journal Article History of Economic Ideas · January 1, 2015 The slow diffusion of the economic analysis of law into Europe has been much remarked upon in the literature, but the diffusion itself has not, to this point, been made the subject of historical study. The present paper examines the two earliest substantiv ... Cite

IDENTIFYING A "cHICAGO SCHOOL" of ECONOMICS: On the ORIGINS, DIFFUSION, and EVOLVING MEANINGS of A FAMOUS NAME BRAND

Journal Article Journal of the History of Economic Thought · January 1, 2023 Though the Chicago school has been the subject of no small amount of research over the past several decades, that scholarship has focused largely on persons, ideas, and influence - in short, on the school itself. No attention has been paid to the origins o ... Full text Cite

Theorising public expenditures: welfare theorems, market failures, and the turn from “public finance” to “public economics”

Journal Article European Journal of the History of Economic Thought · January 1, 2023 Public expenditure theory is a late-comer to the field of public finance, despite laments over the lack of such a theory dating to the late 1800s. This paper documents and attempts to explain this transformation, locating its origins in Richard Musgrave’s ... Full text Cite

Between LSE and Cambridge: Accounting for Ronald Coase’s Fascination with Alfred Marshall

Chapter · January 1, 2021 For most economists at Chicago, Marshall was simply an input, the supplier of an approach to economic analysis. For Ronald Coase, however, Marshall was much more than this—a subject of fascination and, at times, almost a reverence and obsession. Trained in ... Full text Cite

Introduction

Book · January 1, 2021 Cite

The coase theorem at sixty

Journal Article Journal of Economic Literature · December 1, 2020 The Coase theorem is one of the most influential and controversial ideas to emerge from post-World War II economics. This article examines the theorem's origins, diffusion, and the wide variety of uses to which it has been put by economists and others over ... Full text Cite

Embracing at arm's length: Ronald Coase's uneasy relationship with the Chicago school

Journal Article Oxford Economic Papers · October 1, 2020 This paper takes up Ronald Coase's views on the Chicago school, as found in his published and, especially, unpublished writings. Coase's personal and professional papers, recently opened for examination in the University of Chicago's Regenstein Library, re ... Full text Cite

“Exceptional and Unimportant”? Externalities, Competitive Equilibrium, and the Myth of a Pigovian Tradition

Journal Article History of Political Economy · February 1, 2020 The notion of a Pigovian tradition in externality theory, against which Ronald Coase and others reacted beginning in the 1960s, has a long history. This article, though, suggests that the literature of economics evidences no such tradition, and that the di ... Full text Cite

The economist and the economist's audience

Journal Article Journal of the History of Economic Thought · September 1, 2019 Full text Cite

Introduction to economics as a public science. Part II: Institutional settings

Journal Article OEconomia · September 1, 2019 This issue of Œconomia contains the second set of essays that emerged from the conference “Economics and Public Reason” hosted in May 2018 at the Centre Walras-Pareto for the History of Economic and Political Thought at the University of Lausanne. ... Full text Cite

Introduction to economics as a public science

Journal Article OEconomia · June 1, 2019 This short article introduces readers to the papers published in this issue on the theme of “public reason” in economics. It provides ground to the notion of “public reason” in economics as a two-way process taking place in interstitial spaces between econ ... Full text Cite

Gardiner C. Means: Institutionalist and post Keynesian

Book · January 1, 2019 Gardiner Means has a secure place in the history of 20th century economic thought, as the co-author with A.A.Berle of “The Modern Corporation and Private Property”. But according to Samuels and Medema, Means should be remembered for major contributions in ... Full text Cite

Disciplinary collisions: Blum, Kalven and the economic analysis of accident law at Chicago in the 1960s

Chapter · January 1, 2019 The University of Chicago occupies a central place in the history of Law and Economics. To this point, however, scant attention has been given in the literature to how the prospect of an economic analysis of law was received within the law school at Chicag ... Full text Cite

Jacob Viner: Lectures in economics 301

Book · January 1, 2017 This book presents, for the first time, a detailed transcription of Jacob Viner’s Economics 301 class as taught in 1930. These lecture notes provide insight into the legacy of Jacob Viner, whose seminal contributions to fields such as international economi ... Full text Cite

His influence in the Anglo-Saxon world

Chapter · January 1, 2016 Q. What could you tell us about the influence of the Italian public finance school in general on the Anglo-American economic thought? What happened was that because so little of the Italian literature was translated into English, the diffusion of this lite ... Full text Cite

'A magnificent business prospect' the Coase theorem, the extortion problem, and the creation of Coase theorem worlds

Journal Article Journal of Institutional Economics · June 6, 2015 The Coase theorem, circa the 1970s, had no settled meaning or content; instead, that meaning and content was created - and in differing ways - by the modeling choices of scholars who attempted to grapple with and assess the proposition that Coase had laid ... Full text Cite

Economic rebel in retrospect

Journal Article Journal of Economic Methodology · January 9, 2015 © 2015 Taylor & Francis Mark Blaug's contributions to economics were many and significant. This essay provides a review of Mark Blaug: Rebel with Many Causes (2014), edited by Marcel Boumans and Matthias Klaes, which collects papers from a set of confere ... Full text Cite

Crossing the atlantic with calabresi and coase: Efficiency, distribution, and justice at the origins of economic analysis of law in Britain

Journal Article History of Economic Ideas · January 1, 2015 The slow diffusion of the economic analysis of law into Europe has been much remarked upon in the literature, but the diffusion itself has not, to this point, been made the subject of historical study. The present paper examines the two earliest substantiv ... Cite

The "subtle processes of economic reasoning": Marshall, becker, and Theorizing about economic Man and other-regarding behavior

Book · January 1, 2015 The question of whether, and to what extent, Chicago price theory is Marshallian is a large one, with many aspects. The theory of individual behavior is one of these, and the treatment of altruism, or, more generally, other-regarding behavior, falls within ... Full text Cite

From dismal to dominance? Law and economics and the values of imperial science, historically contemplated

Chapter · January 1, 2015 The history of the economic analysis of law is one of success, whether success is measured by the field’s explanatory power or by its professional entrenchment. On the economics side, its journals have significant status within the profession at large, the ... Full text Cite

Market Failure in Context: Introduction

Journal Article History of Political Economy · January 1, 2015 Full text Cite

Walras in the Age of Marshall: An Analysis of English-Language Journals, 1890–1939

Chapter · January 1, 2015 It is generally accepted that Léon Walras’s greatest influence on American and British economics began only in the 1930s. While there is a significant element of truth to this, it begs the question of the degree to which Walras’s work was known in the Engl ... Full text Cite

Those crazy transaction costs: On the irrelevance of the equivalence between monetary damages and specific performance

Journal Article European Journal of Law and Economics · April 1, 2014 The Coase theorem tells us that monetary damages and specific performance remedies for breach of contract have identical effects when transaction costs are zero. This has become a standard part of the literature on the economics of contract law. This note ... Full text Cite

Paul Samuelson on the history of economic analysis: Selected essays

Book · January 1, 2014 As one of the most famous economists of the twentieth century, Paul Anthony Samuelson revolutionized many branches of economic theory. As a diligent student of his predecessors, he reconstructed their economic analyses in the mathematical idiom he pioneere ... Cite

Juris prudence: Calabresi's uneasy relationship with the coase theorem

Journal Article Law and Contemporary Problems · January 1, 2014 Cite

1966 and all that: Codification, consolidation, creep, and controversy in the early history of the coase theorem

Journal Article Journal of the History of Economic Thought · January 1, 2014 The year 1966 was central to the history of the Coase theorem debates, featuring the entry of the idea of a 'Coase theorem' into economic discourse and the eruption of the controversy over the the correctness of Coase's negotiation result. This paper exami ... Full text Cite

Neither misunderstood nor ignored: The early reception of coase's wider challenge to the analysis of externalities

Journal Article History of Economic Ideas · January 1, 2014 The 'Coase theorem' has long been the idea most commonly associated with Ronald Coase's analysis in «The Problem of Social Cost». Yet, Coase frequently argued late in his career that he had been misunderstood, and that the central message(s) of the article ... Cite

Economics and institutions lessons from the coase theorem

Journal Article Revue Economique · January 1, 2014 The Coase theorem occupies an important place in the history of modern economics. Its implication that institutions are irrelevant for economic performance, though, posed great difficulties for economists, both in their treatment of the theorem per se and ... Full text Cite

The curious treatment of the coase theorem in the environmental economics literature, 1960-1979

Journal Article Review of Environmental Economics and Policy · January 1, 2014 Full text Cite

The importance of being misunderstood: The Coase theorem and the legacy of 'The Problem of Social Cost'

Journal Article Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research · October 1, 2013 Full text Cite

On why there is no Milton Friedman today: Sui Generis, Sui Temporis

Journal Article Econ Journal Watch · May 30, 2013 This essay responds to the question, "Why is there no Milton Friedman today?" In doing so, it briefly examines several aspects of Friedman's professional life that contributed to his success in the academic, policy, and public realms as well as the influen ... Cite

The history of economic thought: A reader, second edition

Book · January 1, 2013 From the ancients to the moderns, questions of economic theory and policy have been an important part of intellectual and public debate, engaging the attention of some of history's greatest minds. This book brings together readings from more than two thous ... Full text Cite

Warren Samuels: A personal reminiscence

Journal Article History of Political Economy · September 26, 2012 Full text Cite

Economists and the analysis of government failure: Fallacies in the Chicago and Virginia interpretations of Cambridge welfare economics

Journal Article Cambridge Journal of Economics · July 1, 2012 The theory of government failure was developed as a reaction against Pigovian welfare economics and the Cambridge approach to economic policy analysis generally, which ostensibly lacked a theory of governmental behaviour. We argue that the Cambridge tradit ... Full text Cite

Public choice and the notion of creative communities

Journal Article History of Political Economy · March 10, 2011 Full text Cite

A case of mistaken identity: George Stigler, "The Problem of Social Cost," and the Coase theorem

Journal Article European Journal of Law and Economics · February 1, 2011 "The Problem of Social Cost" is rightly credited with helping to launch the economic analysis of law. George Stigler plays a central role in the professional reception of Coase's work and, in particular, of the idea that came to be known as the Coase theor ... Full text Cite

Chicago price theory and chicago law and economics: A tale of two transitions

Chapter · January 1, 2011 It is common practice to equate “law and economics” with the Chicago School and Chicago law and economics with Richard Posner and the economic analysis of law. Just as common is the tendency to equate Chicago microeconomics, or price theory, with Gary Beck ... Full text Cite

History of economic thought

Chapter · December 1, 2010 Cite

Adam Smith and the Chicago school

Chapter · January 1, 2010 Adam Smith’s discussion of the system of natural liberty, its eff ects on the functioning of the market system, and the resultant implications for the economic role of the state has formed the basis for much of the subsequent economic literature analyzing ... Full text Cite

Richard A. Posner

Chapter · January 1, 2010 Richard A. Posner (1939–) was born on January 11, 1939 in New York City. He received his BA from Yale College (1959) and his LLD from Harvard Law School (1962), where he served as President of the Law Review. The period following his graduation was spent i ... Full text Cite

Chicago law and economics

Chapter · January 1, 2010 The field of law and economics is arguably the most successful of economics’ various imperialistic movements, and this success has been driven largely by scholars from the University of Chicago and their protégés. If one spends much time examining the curr ... Full text Cite

Ronald harry coase

Chapter · January 1, 2010 Ronald Harry Coase was born on December 29, 1910 in the London suburb of Willesden. An only child, Coase was educated at the Kilburn Grammar School and the London School of Economics (LSE), from which he graduated with a degree in commerce in 1932. Interes ... Full text Cite

Pigou's “prima facie case”: Market failure in theory and practice

Chapter · January 1, 2010 INTRODUCTION The idea that the pursuit of private interests may not redound to the larger social interest has a long history in economic thinking, but it was not until the second half of the 19th century that this line of thought began to coalesce into an ... Full text Cite

Robbins's essay and the axiomatization of economics

Journal Article Journal of the History of Economic Thought · December 1, 2009 Full text Cite

History by the numbers: A comment on Carlson and diamond

Journal Article Journal of the History of Economic Thought · December 1, 2009 Full text Cite

The hesitant hand: Taming self-interest in the history of economic ideas

Book · July 6, 2009 Here Christina Wolbrecht boldly demonstrates how the Republican and Democratic parties have helped transform, and have been transformed by, American public debate and policy on women's rights. She begins by showing the evolution of the positions of both pa ... Cite

The hesitant hand: Taming self-interest in the history of economic ideas

Book · July 6, 2009 Adam Smith turned economic theory on its head in 1776 when he declared that the pursuit of self-interest mediated by the market itself--not by government--led, via an invisible hand, to the greatest possible welfare for society as a whole.The Hesitant Hand ... Cite

On the definition of economics

Journal Article Journal of Economic Perspectives · January 1, 2009 This feature addresses the history of economic terms and ideas. The hope is to deepen the workaday dialogue of economists, while perhaps also casting new light on ongoing questions. If you have suggestions for future topics or authors, please contact Josep ... Full text Cite

Defining economics: The Long Road to Acceptance of the Robbins Definition

Journal Article Economica · January 1, 2009 Robbins' Essay gave economics a definition that came to dominate the professional literature. This definition laid a foundation that could be seen as justifying both the narrowing of economic theory to the theory of constrained maximization or rational cho ... Full text Cite

"Losing my religion": Sidgwick, theism, and the struggle for utilitarian ethics in economic analysis

Journal Article History of Political Economy · December 1, 2008 Henry Sidgwick's loss of religious faith is central to understanding the origins of the Cambridge school of welfare economics. The most prominent "public" manifestation of this loss and its impact on Sidgwick's thought was his Methods of Ethics, which was ... Full text Cite

The hesitant hand: Mill, Sidgwick, and the evolution of the theory of market failure

Journal Article History of Political Economy · September 1, 2007 Full text Cite

Sidgwick's utilitarian analysis of law: A bridge from Bentham to Becker?

Journal Article American Law and Economics Review · March 1, 2007 Jeremy Bentham's utilitarian analysis of crime and punishment is regularly characterized as an inspiration for the economic analysis of law, whereas Henry Sidgwick has been all but ignored in the discussions of the history of law and economics. Sidgwick is ... Full text Cite

On "big five and little five" [4]

Journal Article Society · September 1, 2006 Full text Cite

"Marginalizing" government: From la scienza delle finanze to Wicksell

Journal Article History of Political Economy · March 1, 2005 Full text Cite

Setting the table

Journal Article History of Political Economy · January 1, 2005 Full text Cite

Public Choice and Deviance: A Comment

Journal Article American Journal of Economics and Sociology · January 1, 2004 Full text Cite

John R. Commons's "The definition of price"

Journal Article Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology · January 1, 2000 Cite

The economic role of government as, in part, a matter of selective perception, sentiment and valuation: The cases of Pigovian and Paretian welfare economics

Journal Article American Journal of Economics and Sociology · January 1, 2000 This essay identifies and explores the role of selective perception, sentiment and valuation in the formation of economic policy, with particular reference to the conduct of policy-making under the aegis of Pigovian and Paretian welfare economics. First, w ... Full text Cite

Educating Alice: Lessons from the Coase theorem

Journal Article Research in Law and Economics · January 1, 2000 Cite

"Related disciplines": The professionalization of public choice analysis

Journal Article History of Political Economy · January 1, 2000 Full text Cite

Symposium on the Coase Theorem: Legal Fiction: The Place of the Coase Theorem in Law and Economics

Journal Article Economics and Philosophy · January 1, 1999 Modern law and economics received much of its impetus from Ronald Coase's analysis in ‘The Problem of Social Cost,’ and a goodly amount of that comes from the Coase theorem, which states that, absent transaction costs, externalities will be efficiently res ... Full text Cite

Positive science, normative man: Lionel Robbins and the political economy of art

Journal Article History of Political Economy · January 1, 1999 Full text Cite

Beyond the Dark Clouds: Pigou and Coase on Social Cost

Journal Article History of Political Economy · January 1, 1998 Full text Cite

Coase, costs, and coordination

Journal Article Journal of Economic Issues · January 1, 1996 Full text Cite

Tax neutrality and social welfare in a comptutational general equilibrium framework

Journal Article Public Finance Review · January 1, 1995 This article investigates the effects of distributionally neutral tax changes on equity and efficiency using computational general equilibrium and stochastic dominance techniques. The authors find, for a tax increase, that the constant-tax-share definition ... Full text Cite

Hanly on Coase: A Comment

Journal Article Journal of Applied Philosophy · January 1, 1994 ABSTRACT Ken Hanly's recent article in this Journal (Vol. 9, No. 1, 1992) takes issue with Ronald Coase's approach to resolving problems of externalities, as set forth in his classic paper ‘The Problem of Social Cost’. I argue that Hanly's discussion of Co ... Full text Cite

Is there life beyond efficiency? Elements of a social law and economics

Journal Article Review of Social Economy · January 1, 1993 Full text Cite

The marginal efficiency effects of taxes and subsidies in the presence of externalities. A computational general equilibrium approach

Journal Article Journal of Public Economics · January 1, 1993 Using 1983 data, we develop a 19-sector computational general equilibrium model, incorporating producer-producer externalities and producer-consumer externalities. Simulation results indicate that when additional government expenditure is financed by Pigou ... Full text Cite

Transactions, transaction costs, and vertical integration: A re-examination

Journal Article Review of Political Economy · January 1, 1992 The economic analysis of the transaction has its roots in the work of John R. Commons, and has recently been brought to the fore in the work of the ‘new institutionalists’, and especially in the work of Oliver E. Williamson. This article, drawing in part o ... Full text Cite

Gardiner C. Means's institutional and post-Keynesian economics

Journal Article Review of Political Economy · July 1, 1989 In this tribute to the work of Gardiner Means, we shall argue that his influence has been on a par with that of Keynes on economists of an unorthodox persuasion. It is argued that his pioneering work in studying the modern corporation as an institution tha ... Full text Cite