Walras, Musgrave et l’hétérogénéité entre les biens publics et les biens privés

Desmarais-Tremblay, Maxime. 2021. Walras, Musgrave et l’hétérogénéité entre les biens publics et les biens privés. Œconomia, 11(2), pp. 315-346. ISSN 2113-5207 [Article]

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Walras, Musgrave, and the Heterogeneity Between Public and Private Goods

Léon Walras (1834-1910) and Richard A. Musgrave (1910-2007) both argued that the state was providing public goods that were not directly demanded by individuals. Famous for his exposition of the theory of general equilibrium, Walras framed his ideas on public goods in a peculiar conception of the relationship between individuals and the state. This paper argues that Walras’ ideas on public goods failed to reach mainstream public economics because they did not abide to methodological individualism. In contrast, Musgrave, who originally rejected the idea of an individual assessment of public goods, rallied to methodological individualism in the 1950s. Thus, his definition of public goods as non-rival and non-excludable came to be widely accepted in the field. In fact, his residual concept of merit goods was rejected by economists precisely because it violated methodological individualism and the principle of consumers’ sovereignty.

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Walras (Léon), Musgrave (Richard A.), public goods, merit goods, methodology

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Institute of Management Studies


2 March 2021Accepted
25 July 2021Published

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Date Deposited:

28 Jul 2021 11:16

Last Modified:

28 Jul 2021 11:16

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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