This paper is focused on an often neglected aspect of Proudhon’s thought: his rich confrontation
with the theoretical legacy of the Enlightenment authors (Rousseau, Diderot, A. Smith, Condorcet,
etc.) about the nature of ‘‘commercial society’’ and the idea of social progress. Through the rethinking
of the Enlightenment views, Proudhon builds an approach designed to inquire into the relationships
between scientific advances and the increased awareness of social agents, in order to
analyse the causes of economic and social changes. In this perspective Proudhon creates a new
category of social progress that can explain the theoretical evolution of the social sciences and
the dynamics of capitalistic society. At the centre of his analysis we find both an interesting and
original reflection about the relationship between individuals and society, and about the evolution
of human nature with reference to the idea of social ‘‘Justice’’.
Keywords: Proudhon, Enlightenment, Division of Labor, Political Economy, Social Progress.
JEL Classification: B12.
A growth model is presented in which productive government expenditure takes the form of a
stock. Private and public capital interact with each other in two ways. The first is related to the
specification of the aggregate production function (Cobb-Douglas vs. CES). The second has to do
with the rates of investment in the two types of capital, and arises from the law of motion of public
capital. The share of public capital devoted to output production can be exogenous or endogenous.
In this framework, we analyse how the optimal growth rate of the economy depends on the
degree of complementarity/substitutability between the investments in the two kinds of capital, as
well as on the elasticity of substitution between the two capital-inputs in the production of goods.
Unlike Barro (1990), the relationship between optimal growth and the share of productive government
expenditure in GDP is nonlinear and characterized by threshold-effects.
Using data on a cohort of school leavers observed three years after finishing school this paper estimates
the impact of school tracks on post-school behaviours, namely the rates of transition to
college, college dropout, labour market participation and unemployment. Identification is achieved
using retrospective information on parental unemployment at the time of track choice. Results
show that students from the academic oriented track achieve better college performance and experience
a worse transition to the labour market relative to students from labour market oriented
tracks, consistent with the idea that tracking generates efficiency gains through specialization of
knowledge. Results also show that family background is far more important than ability in determining
allocation to tracks. The estimated distribution of unobserved heterogeneity suggests that
such a situation may result in some inefficient allocations of less able students to college-oriented
tracks, inflating college dropout rates.
Keywords: School tracking; College performance; School-to-work transition; Endogeneity.
JEL Classification: I21, J24, C35l.
In this paper, we provide a very simple model to shed light on the issue of managed competition
in mixed quasi-markets (i.e. regulated markets in which social and for-profit firms coexist). In
doing this, we consider the literature on mixed oligopolies as a reasonable reference point and try
to enrich it with the idea of quasi-market. Firstly, our results show that social firms serve the relatively
richer portion of the population. Only relatively poor consumers buy units of service from
the profit-oriented firm. Secondly, the socially-preferable form of managed competition is to introduce
co-production practices and, hence, to raise profit-oriented firm’s production costs. The diffusion
of co-production paradigms ensures maximal service quality and eliminates mark-up from the
We investigate, in a model of perfectly competitive banks and a lower bound on the deposit rate
that these banks may offer, the idea that, as a result of financial innovation, capital adequacy requirements
may become ineffective in preventing banks from investing in risky assets which are,
from the point of view of society, inefficient. We interpret this as one possible explanation of the
seemingly repeated failure of the Basel accords to induce a desired level of prudence by the
Keywords: Bank regulation, capital requirements, moral hazard, financial innovation.
JEL Classification: D43, D82, G21, G28.
This paper examines theses of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum about the importance of pursuing
goals of social justice through the capability approach. Are considered here the reasons of
such a method, whose aim is to reach development of the capabilities of every human being. It is
discussed also if the ends proposed by Sen and Nussbaum – that can be appreciated and culturally
supported – can be considered fruit of a neutral contractarian approach, as behind a Rawlsian
‘veil of ignorance’, to which Nussbaum makes explicit reference. Neutral approach, that is of
subjects without awareness of their specific interests in the process of bargaining. Or instead proposals
intuitively established, rationally justifiable only ex-post, that could find their implementation
as the contractarian outcome of a real confrontation among social actors, supporters of specific
diversified interest in a liberal and democratic society.
Keywords: Justice, Criteria of rationality in individual and social choice, Utopia, Democracy.
JEL Classification: A 12, A 13, B 41.
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