The Economics of Freedom

The Economics of Freedom : Theory, Measurement, and Policy Implications

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What is freedom? Can we measure it? Does it affect policy? This book develops an original measure of freedom called 'Autonomy Freedom', consistent with J. S. Mill's view of autonomy, and applies it to issues in policy and political design. The work pursues three aims. First, it extends classical liberalism beyond exclusive reliance on negative freedom so as to take autonomous behavior explicitly into account. Second, it grounds on firm conceptual foundations a new standard in the measurement of freedom that can be fruitfully coupled with existing gauges. Third, it shows empirically that individual preferences for redistribution and cross-country differences in welfare spending in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries are driven by the degree of 'autonomy freedom' that individuals enjoy. By means of an interdisciplinary approach and a sophisticated econometric methodology, the book takes an explicit stand in defense of freedom and sets the basis for a liberalism based upon people's actions and institutions.show more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 19 b/w illus. 29 tables
  • 1139512412
  • 9781139512411

Table of contents

1. Introduction; Part I. Concepts and Tools: 2. Choice and freedom; 3. Measuring autonomy freedom; 4. The empirical measure of autonomy; Part II. Autonomy Freedom and the Welfare State: 5. Why redistribute?; 6. Autonomy freedom and redistribution; 7. Autonomy freedom and welfare spending; 8. Conclusion.show more

Review quote

'The Economics of Freedom is an interesting work of both philosophically inspired social science and empirically informed political philosophy. The authors construct a measure of autonomy freedom on the basis of data in the World Value Survey and compare how worldwide differences in attitudes correlate with social welfare policies. This book will intrigue researchers in comparative politics, welfare economics, political economy, and political philosophy.' Luc Bovens, London School of Economics 'At last theories of freedom meet with empirical evidence. Using a sophisticated social choice account of Millian autonomy, Bavetta and Navarra measure how free people feel they are comparatively across nations. A great achievement.' Keith Dowding, Australian National University 'This important work offers not only a masterful survey of the philosophical literature on liberty but also an important contribution to our understanding of the value of choice, the measurement of freedom, and implications of individual autonomy for the understanding and reform of social institutions. The authors' conception of 'autonomy freedom' is an imaginative and illuminating contribution to political theory and to the theory of freedom in particular.' Chandran Kukathas, London School of Economics 'Uniquely combining philosophical analysis, economic theory, and empirical research, The Economics of Freedom constitutes an important contribution to our understanding of the nature and value of freedom.' Martin van Hees, University of Groningen, The Netherlandsshow more

About Sebastiano Bavetta

Sebastiano Bavetta is Professor of Economics at the University of Palermo, Italy and visiting professor of Economics and Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. He is a research associate at the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science (CPNSS) at the London School of Economics (UK), where he obtained his Ph.D. in Philosophy of Economics. He has published in The Journal of Theoretical Politics, Social Choice and Welfare, Theory and Decision, Constitutional Political Economy and Economic Affairs, among others. He co-authored a book in Italian (Liberalism in the Era of Conflict, 2008). His research interests focus on policy and institutional design and on the measurement of freedom and its policy and political implications. He has extensive political and administrative experiences in the government of the city of Palermo as well as in Italian local governmental agencies. Pietro Navarra is Professor of Public Economics at the University of Messina, Italy, where he is also Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of the budget. He is also visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania, USA and a research associate at the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science (CPNSS) at the London School of Economics. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Buckingham. Professor Navarra co-edited with Ram Mudambi and Giuseppe Sobbrio Rules and Reason: Perspectives on Constitutional Political Economy (Cambridge University Press, 2001) and coauthored with them Rules, Choice, and Strategy: The Political Economy of Italian Electoral Reform (2001). He has published more than fifty articles in journals such as the Journal of International Business Studies, Public Choice, the European Journal of Political Economy, Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Economics of Governance and Applied Economics. His research interests embrace the measurement of freedom, the relation between political institutions and economic reform and the interplay between individual empowerment, entrepreneurship and economic growth.show more

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