Dictionary of Arguments

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Mause I 171ff
Paternalism/Interventionism/Musgrave, Richard: (See Merit Goods/Musgrave): it remained controversial whether merit goods also include properties of a public good (positive externalities) (1) or, as Musgrave himself assumed, should also include distribution policy interventions such as "paternalistic assistance" (Musgrave et al. 1984, p. 101) of the state. (See Externalities/Demsetz, Externalities/Coase).
State interventions/Musgrave:(3) four types:
1. Pathological cases: Children, mentally handicapped or insufficiently informed persons should be protected from the consequences of their decisions. Essential reason for intervention: irrationality.
2. Cases "genuine merit goods"(4): e.g. natural redistribution: e.g. donation of contributions in kind instead of money. (5)
3. Cases of weakness of will: e.g. interference in decisions of citizens who do not correspond to the "enlightened" interest: e.g. extreme sports, motorcycling without a helmet, sexual intercourse without a condom, etc. (See >Weak Will). See also (6).
4. Cases where community needs take precedence over individual needs (7): Some of these cases are respected by individuals themselves: For example, the preservation of historical sites, protection of the environment, protection of human dignity, etc.


1. John G. Head, On merit goods. Finanzarchiv 25, (1) 1966, 1– 29.
2. Musgrave, Richard A., Peggy B. Musgrave, und Lore Kullmer. 1984. Die öffentlichen Finanzen in Theorie und Praxis, Tübingen 1984, p. 101
3. R. A. Musgrave, Merit Goods. In The New Palgrave: A dictionary of economics, Hrsg. John Eatwell, Murray Milgate und Peter Newman, Bd. 3, London 198 p. 452– 453.
4. Musgrave, Richard A., Peggy B. Musgrave, und Lore Kullmer. 1994. Die öffentlichen Finanzen in Theorie und Praxis, Tübingen 1994, p. 90.
5. Ebenda.
6. Thaler, Richard H., und Hersh M. Shefrin, An economic theory of self-control. Journal of Political Economy 89, ( 2), 1981. S. 392– 406.
7. Musgrave 1987, p. 452-453


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

EconMusg I
Richard A. Musgrave
The Theory of Public Finance: A Study in Public Economy, New York 1959
German Edition:
Finanztheorie Tübingen 1974

Mause I
Karsten Mause
Christian Müller
Klaus Schubert,
Politik und Wirtschaft: Ein integratives Kompendium Wiesbaden 2018


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2019-04-24
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