Disputes in Economics

Edited by
Arie Arnon, Moshe Justman
PublisherVan Leer Institute Press and Hakibbutz Hameuchad
Language Hebrew
Year of Publication2009
Series The Economics and Society Program, Theory in Context Series

How big should the public sector be? Is the tax burden in Israel proportionately higher than it is in other countries? Is the current limitation on the growth of government expenditure necessary or subject to choice? How does the socioeconomic model that a state adopts—the American model or the Scandinavian—affect economic development? Does inequality affect growth? What are the ways to define and measure poverty? What are the appropriate limits of privatization?

Disputes in Economics discusses these and many other questions. Its aim is to show that in economics dispute is the rule, and that ethical approaches and a variety of interests both have considerable influence on the discussion. For many years the reigning approach has argued that for objective professional reasons Israel must reduce the government’s role in economic activity and rely mainly on the market mechanism. At the core of the book lies the argument that this view is not inevitable nor is it the outcome of a professional analysis but rather one of many approaches. There are other approaches, and the selection of one of them is not only a professional choice but also a political one. The book is based on a series of booklets published in 2006–2007 as part of the Economics and Society Program at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. It was written by experts in their fields, most of them academics who have dealt with these issues for many years. The book’s aim is to ground the discussion of central issues on the public agenda on a solid factual and conceptual foundation, to help the readers participate in the public discourse and influence socioeconomic policy in Israel.

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