Charles Tiebout (1924-1968)

Charles Mills Tiebout (1924–1968) was an economist and geographer most known for his development of the Tiebout model, which suggested that there were actually non-political solutions to the free rider problem in local governance. He earned undisputable recognition in the area of local government and fiscal federalism with his widely cited paper “A pure theory of local expenditures”.[1] He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1950, and received a PhD in economics in University of Michigan in 1957. He was Professor of Economics and Geography at the University of Washington. He died suddenly on January 16, 1968, at age 43.

Tiebout is frequently associated with the concept of foot voting, that is, physically moving to another jurisdiction where policies are closer to one’s ideologies, instead of voting to change a government or its policies.

Charles Tiebout (pronounced tee-bow) received his education at a time when the supremacy of centralized government was at a peak both politically and intellectually.

Charles Tiebout earned his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan. His 1957 dissertation about regional multipliers, however, had nothing to do with local public finance where he would make his largest contributions.

As an instructor at Northwestern University, he published his seminal article, “A Pure Theory of Local Public Expenditures,” (Journal of Political Economy, 64: 416-24) in 1956. From there he went on to teach economics at UCLA and then geography at the University of Washington.

Charles Tiebout stayed in Seattle until his early death at the age of 43, on January 16, 1968. He published and consulted in regional economic development, but his primary contribution and best-known work developed what is now known as the Tiebout Hypothesis.

Major Works of Charles Tiebout

– An Empirical Regional Input-Output Projection Model: The State of Washington 1980, The Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol. 51, No. 3. (Aug., 1969), pp. 334-340
– An Intersectoral Flows Analysis of the California Economy (with W. Lee Hansen) The Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol. 45, No. 4. (Nov., 1963), pp. 409-418
– The Community Economic Base Study. Committee for Economic Development, Supplementary Paper No.16, New York: 1963
– Metropolitan Finance Reconsidered: Budget Functions and Multi-Level Governments (with David B. Houston) The Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol. 44, No. 4. (Nov., 1962), pp. 412-417
– Intra-Urban Location Problems: An Evaluation (in Economic Analysis of Urban Problems) The American Economic Review, Vol. 51, No. 2, Papers and Proceedings of the Seventy-Third Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association. (May, 1961), pp. 271-278
– Interregional Input-Output Models: An Appraisal,” Southern Economic Journal, vol.24, Oct., 1957, pp.140-47
– Location Theory, Empirical Evidence and Economic Evolution, Papers & Proceedings of the Regional Science Association, Vol.3, 1957, pp.74-86
– A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures, The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 64, No. 5. (Oct., 1956), pp. 416-424
– Exports and Regional Economic Growth The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 64, No. 2. (Apr., 1956), pp. 160-164
– The Urban Economic Base Reconsidered, Land Economics, Feb. 1956, pp.95-99

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