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Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 5 No. 2 (Spring 1991)

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Distinguished Lecture on Economics in Government: Strengthening the Economy by Rethinking the Role of Federal and State Governments

Article Citation

Rivlin, Alice M. 1991. "Distinguished Lecture on Economics in Government: Strengthening the Economy by Rethinking the Role of Federal and State Governments." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 5(2): 3-14.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.5.2.3

Abstract

This lecture brings together two subjects that are not often discussed together: national economic policy and the structure of American federalism. My thesis is that the policies needed to improve the health of the U.S. economy over the next decade or two require a new look at the division of responsibilities between the federal government and the states. In particular, I will argue that the states should have much clearer responsibility for most kinds of public investment, especially for improving the skills of the labor force and upgrading public infrastructure. The federal government should concentrate on a different set of missions, including interaction with the rest of the world, strengthening social insurance, and contributing to national saving by running a surplus in the unified federal budget.

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Authors

Rivlin, Alice M. (Brookings Institution)

JEL Classifications

H11: Structure, Scope, and Performance of Government
H77: Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism; Secession

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