VIPs in Economic Geography:

Charles M. Tiebout

Professor of Economics & Geography

1924 - 1968

Quick Index:

Charles Tiebout's Life in the Geography Department of the University of Washington was short, intense and profoundly influential. It lasted from 1963 until his untimely death in 1968. A full account of this influence and his impact on the remainder of the university and the Pacific Northwest has yet to be written. Thus, this page will remain "under construction".

Already existing Internet References:

  • University of Washington (January 1963 - January 1968)
    • "The urban studies program with Ullman was expanded in 1965 with Ronald Boyce, and became associated with the Center for Urban and Regional Research, directed by Charlie Tiebout until his death in 1968. This interdepartmental and interdisciplinary effort was to provide greater prominence and mutual support to regional and economic analyses." (J. Velikonja)

  • William Fischel's [Department of Economics, Dartmouth] contacts with Charles Tiebout's sons, Bruce and Charles Jr., have produced some further information on his childhood and early career. This very personal account has been included in a PDF-accessible paper []. ["Municipal Corporations, Homeowners and the Benefit View of the Property Tax." Dartmouth College Working Paper 00-03. Draft #3, April 2, 2000.]

  • More recently:
    The Tiebout Model at Fifty:
    Essays in Public Economics in Honor of Wallace Oates
    Editor: Fischel, William A.
    Publication Date: July, 2006;
    The Tiebout Model at Fifty commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of Charles Tiebout’s enormously influential 1956 article, “A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures,” and honors the contributions of Wallace Oates as expositor and popularizer of the Tiebout model. While Tiebout’s hypothesis is the touchstone for the economic analysis of local government, Oates gave the theory empirical content and brought the idea into the realm of public economics.
    A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures, Charles M. Tiebout
       1. Footloose at Fifty: An Introduction to the Tiebout Anniversary 
    Essays, William A. Fischel
       2. The Many Faces of the Tiebout Model, Wallace E. Oates
          Commentary, Robert Inman
       3. California's School Finance Reform: An Experiment in Fiscal 
    Federalism, Eric J. Brunner and Jon Sonstelie
          Commentary, David Figlio
       4. School Choice, Parental Information, and Tiebout Sorting: 
    Evidence from Washington, DC, Jack Buckley and Mark Schneider
          Commentary, Therese McGuire
       5. Imperfect Competition Between Communities, Politics, and 
    Capitalization, William H. Hoyt
          Commentary, Robert M. Schwab
       6. Exclusion's Attraction: Land Use Controls in Tieboutian 
    Perspective, Lee Anne Fennell
          Commentary, Robert C. Ellickson
       7. Nonfiscal Residential Zoning, Stephen Calabrese, Dennis Epple, 
    and Richard Romano
          Commentary, Thomas J. Nechyba
       8. Compared to What? Tiebout and the Comparative Merits of Congress 
    and the States in Constitutional Federalism, Roderick M. Hills Jr.
          Commentary, Clayton P. Gillette
       9. The Law of Demand in Tiebout Economics, Edward Cartwright, John 
    P. Conley, and Myrna Wooders
          Commentary, Jan K. Brueckner
      10. Tiebout—Stability and Efficiency: The Examples of Australia and 
    South Africa, Jeffrey Petchey and Perry Shapiro
          Commentary, Harold M. Hochman 
    About the Editor
    William A. Fischel, a professor in the Dartmouth College Economics 
    Department since 1973, was named the Patricia F and William B. Hale '44 
    Professor in Arts and Sciences in 2002. His research focuses on the law 
    and economics of regulatory takings and on the economics of local 
    government, especially the Tiebout model, zoning, property taxation, 
    and school finance. He is the author of The Homevoter Hypothesis, The 
    Economics of Zoning Laws, and Regulatory Takings.
    The Tiebout Model at Fifty: Essays in Public Economics in Honor of 
    Wallace Oates
    Edited by William A. Fischel
    Published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
    2006. 368 pages. $30.00 (paper)
    ISBN 1-55844-165-4

    Reviews & Applications of the "Tiebout Model":

    A search of the JEL index yielded 128 references to "Tiebout", almost all which were references to the "Tiebout model" (March 10, 1998).

    Assadian,-A. Fiscal determinants of migration to a fast-growing state: how the aged differ from the general population. Review-of-Regional-Studies. 1995. 25(3), pp 301-315.

    This paper utilizes 1980-89 data on Florida's metropolitan areas to test the hypothesis that fiscal variables have differing influences on the in-migration of the aged as compared to the general population. The model, which is based on the Tiebout hypothesis, tests the role of variables which represent public school-related finances and public assistance.

    Crampton, G., Local government structure and urban residential location. Urban-Studies. 1996. 33/7, 1061-1076.

    "The large research literature on the Tiebout model has developed with little attention paid to the urban economic structure in which local government functions. This paper attempts to examine the theoretical consequences of local jurisdictions functioning within a conventional monocentric urban model."

    Donahue, John D., "Tiebout? Or Not Tiebout? The Market Metaphor and America's Devolution Debate," Journal of Economic Perspectives 11(4), Fall 1997, pp.73-81. [issue includes other papers on federalism and devolution giving credit to Tiebout]

    Fischel, William A., "Footloose at Fifty: An Introduction to the Tiebout Anniversary Essays" . THE TIEBOUT MODEL AT FIFTY: ESSAYS IN PUBLIC ECONOMICS IN HONOR OF WALLACE OATES, W.A. Fischel, ed., Cambridge, Mass.: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2006 Available at SSRN:

    Garasky,-Steven and Haurin,-Donald-R. Tiebout Revisited: Redrawing Jurisdictional Boundaries Journal-of-Urban-Economics; 42(3), November 1997, pp.366-76.

    Central city households who subsidize local public sector goods through local property taxes have an incentive to flee from the city or to change the jurisdiction's boundary. The authors focus on the latter case..."

    Goetz, S.J., 3.2. The Tiebout Hypothesis in: Migration and Local Labor Markets, Web Book, 1999.

    Gramlich, Edward M. Financing Federal Systems: The Selected Essays of Edward M. Gramlich. Studies in Fiscal Federalism and State-Local Finance. Cheltenham, U.K. and Northampton, Mass.: Elgar; distributed by American International Distribution Corporation, Williston, VT, 1997. Pp. xv, 518. $95.00. ISBN 1-85898-656-7.

    Twenty-three papers, most previously published, address issues of fiscal federalism. Papers focus on state and local governments and their budget constraint; state and local fiscal behavior and federal grant policy; explaining the large surpluses in state and local budgets; micro estimates of public spending demand functions and tests of the Tiebout and median-voter hypotheses; a review of the empirical literature on intergovernmental grants;..

    Feld,-Lars-P., Referenda ("Voice") and Tiebout Competition ("Exit") as Means of Integration? Comment Aussenwirtschaft; 52(1-2), June 1997, pages 311-18.

    Hatton, Michael J., "A Pure Theory of Lifelong Learning,"

    Lifelong learning presupposes the development of a learning society, one where active, ongoing learning of a higher order will be broadly embraced. As this learning ethic develops, the demand for increased educational opportunities of all types will be unprecedented. Tiebout's "Pure Theory of Local Expenditures", a seminal paper in finance, has direct application for understanding consumer interests and pressures, the role of the central versus local governments, and the effects of consumer mobility and knowledge..."

    Hoyt,-William-H. and Rosenthal,-Stuart-S. Household Location and Tiebout: Do Families Sort According to Preferences for Locational Amenities? Journal-of-Urban-Economics; 42(2), September 1997, pp.159-78.

    Kenyon, Daphne A., "Theories of Interjurisdictional Competition," New England Economic Review, March/April 1997, pp.13-35.

    Kollman, Ken, John H. Miller and Scott E. Page, "Political Institutions and Sorting in a Tiebout Model," American Economic Review 87(5), December 1997, pp.977-92.

    McGuire,-Therese, Firm Location in a Tiebout World Journal-of-Regional-Science; 23(2), May 1983, pp.211-22.

    Mieszkowski, Peter and George R. Zodrow, "Taxation and the Tiebout Model: The Differential Effects of Head Taxes, Taxes on Land Rents, and Property Taxes," Journ.of Econ.Lit., 27(3), Sept. 1989, 1098-1146

    "Perhaps the most significant article on the theory of state and local public finance is the seminal paer by Charles Tiebout (1956). Tiebout constructed a multijurisdictional model in which independent local governments offer a wide variety of expenditure and tax policies, and perfectly mobile consumers reveal their preferences for local public goods through their choice of residential community..."

    Miller, Stephen M.; Tabb, William K. A New Look at a Pure Theory of Local Expenditures National Tax Journal; 26; 2, 1973, pp.161-176

    Building on the work of Charles Tiebout (1956), presents a consumer choice model in which tax-service ratios at different locations in the metropolitan area and family income are determinants of residential location.

    J.M. Pogodzinski, ed., Readings in public policy / Cambridge, MA : Blackwell Publishers, 1995. Includes bibliographical references. Incomplete contents:

    Carolyn L. Weaver -- Black-White wage and employment differentials: the spatial mismatch hypothesis / David L Sjoquist -- A public choice perspective on zoning and growth controls: NIMBYism, the tiebout mechanism, and local democracy / J. M. Pogodzinski --.

    Roberts, Judith. "A Comment on the Many Faces of Tiebout Bias," Journ. of Urban Economics 32 (1992), 45-51.

    Zodrow, George R., ed., Local provision of public services : the Tiebout model after twenty-five years. New York : Academic Press, 1983. ("Proceedings of the Peterkin Symposium on Local Provision of Public Services: The Tiebout Model after Twenty-Five Years Held April 16-17, 1981 at Rice University" Includes bibliographies)

    Internet Sites:

    • Brian Kahin + Charles Nesson (editors) Borders in Cyberspace: Information Policy and the Global Information Infrastructure The MIT Press 1997 A book review by Danny Yee
      "Part two deals with particular issues in the context of the GII. A highly theoretical chapter on digital piracy applies theories of public goods (from Lösch, Samuelson, and Tiebout) to the Internet, considered as a marketplace for competition between different intellectual property regimes."

      "James Buchanan has succinctly restated the Tiebout tradition of federalist analysis. The foremost contribution of federalist structures is to minimize political coercion in society... As Buchanan (1995/96: 260) puts it, "competitive federalism ... is simply the extension ... of the market economy to the organization of the political structure.""

    • Samuel R. Staley and John P. Blair, "Institutions, Quality Competition and Public Service Provision: The Case of Public Education," Constitutional Political Economy 6, no. 1 (1995): 21- 33.
      Traditionally, economists have looked at competition and public service provision in two ways. The first, pioneered by Charles Tiebout in the mid-1950s, argued that local governments compete with each other based on cost. People "vote with their feet" to choose the local government that provides them with the right number of services at preferred levels and costs. This approach implies that rivalry among local governments improves service quality. An alternative, but complimentary line of reasoning, argues that as government functions are consolidated, or more functions move to "higher levels" of government (e.g., federal rather than state, state rather than local, etc.),...

    • CENTRAL CITY DECLINE: REGIONAL OR NEIGHBORHOOD SOLUTIONS? Business Review, March/April 1996 Richard Voith
      "Charles Tiebout first analyzed the consequences of voting with one's feet. In Tiebout's world, people move to communities that have tax and expenditure policies that best suit their preferences. Tiebout argued that competition among small jurisdictions would lead to a system of homogeneous communities that efficiently provide the desired public services. Because Tiebout's communities are homogeneous, local income redistribution is irrelevant. Suburbs, which frequently have a large number of small municipal jurisdictions, approximate the Tiebout model and, hence, avoid the local income redistribution conundrum confronting cities."

    • Ronald Rogowski, Democracy Capital, Skill, and Country Size: Effects of Asset Mobility and Regime Monopoly on the Odds of Democratic Rule (Chapter 4 of: The Origins Of Liberty Political and Economic Liberalization in the Modern World By Paul Drake and Mathew D. McCubbins Princeton University Press - 1998)
      "The crucial point, as Hirschman (1970) first observed, is ... that close substitutes permit exit (if I am dissatisfied with one long-distance company, I can now move to another); and the political analog is thus the ease with which subjects can leave an oppressive regime (cf. Tiebout 1956) or can transfer out of it their most important assets (Bates and Lien 1985). In short, a crucial element that increases elasticity of demand for influence, and hence induces rulers to grant it more widely, is the possibility of emigration -- of literal “exit” from an unsatisfactory government."

    • Congress Should End the Economic War Among the States; March 1995 1994 Annual Report Essay By Melvin L. Burstein and Arthur J. Rolnick Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
      For state and local governments there is a form of intergovernment competition that guides them to provide the right amount of public goods. This type of competition among government entities has been compared to the invisible hand that guides private business to produce the right amount of private goods. Charles M. Tiebout argued in 1956 that as state and local governments compete through general tax and spending programs to attract people and businesses, these government entities are led to produce the desired level of public goods. Tiebout notes that people can vote with their feet and choose to live in the community that provides them with the public services for which they are willing to pay...."

    • Law And Borders--The Rise of Law in Cyberspace; David G. Post & David Johnson, authors; Publication forthcoming in Stanford Law Review, May(?) 1996.
      Footnote: "\103\ The ease with which individuals may move between communities (or inhabit multiple communities simultaneous through a fractionation of their own individual identities) also implies that Cyberspace may provide conditions necessary and sufficient for something more closely resembling the optimal collective production of a particular set of goods -- namely, "laws" -- than can be achieved in the real world. Cyberspace may closely approximate the idealized model for the allocation of local goods and services set forth by Charles Tiebout, see Charles Tiebout, A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures, 64 J. POL. ECON. 416 (1956), in which optimal allocation of locally-produced public goods is provided by small jurisdictions competing for mobile residents. The Tiebout model of intergovernmental competition has four components:....." (footnote 103)

    Other References to Tiebout's Work:

    • Chalmers,-L. and Wall,-G., Local economic impact modelling: TIEBOUT, tourism and training. Journal-of-Geography-in-Higher-Education. 1992. 16(1), pp. 61-69.
      Describes the use of a sophisticated computer model in university teaching. TIEBOUT is a PC-based program which assesses the economic impacts of expenditure in national parks. The program has been used extensively by Parks Canada, but it has had even greater use as a teaching tool as the University of Waterloo.

      Frey,-D.-E., A structural approach to the economic base multiplier. Land-Economics. 1989. 65(4), pp 352-358.

      Recent economic base multiplier literature is largely empirical, relying implicitly for theoretical justification on a model of the local economy that is little changed since Tiebout (1962).

    • Olson, Pamela-N. Ponzetti, James-J. Olson, Geraldine-I. Time demands on families: Is there a bottom line?. Lifestyles. 1989 Win Vol 10(4) 311-323.
      Determined minimal levels of household production (HHP) as measured in terms of time, using 3 methods (C. Tiebout, 1962) from regional economics: the assumption method, the location quotient, and the minimum requirement technique.

    Charles Tiebout Lectures and Prizes:

    • Pacific Northwest Regional Economic Conference: Conflict and Collaboration: how Government, Business, and Academia shape the Pacific Northwest Economy, May 7 - 9, 1998 Holiday Inn Select, Olympia, Washington
      • Charles Tiebout Lecture Introduction: Gus Mattersdorff, Lewis and Clark College Speaker: John Donahue, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government "Tiebout or Not Tiebout: the Market Metaphor and Americaâs Devolution Debate"
      • Conference History
        History (Compliments of Gus Mattersdorff, Professor of Economics at Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon; PNREC Executive Secretary 1988-Present) The idea of a Pacific Northwest Regional Economic Conference came to Charles Tiebout, noted and highly respected Professor of Urban and Regional Economics at the University of Washington in 1966. Professor Tiebout thought that the Pacific Northwest, which is (along with New England) one of the very few readily identifiable regions in the U.S., should also initiate an organization, forum, or publication that examined its economy, discovered problem areas, and suggested remedial action. He believed that, to start with, we should call a conference of regional economists to meet informally, get to know each other, discuss our research, and at the same time be exposed to experts from outside of the region whom we would otherwise not get to see.... [more!]

    • 1965 (6th) President of Western Regional Science Association

    • The Charles M. Tiebout Prize in Regional Science [The Western Regional Science Association]
      "This prize is awarded in honor of the outstanding contributions to regional science made by Charles M. Tiebout before his untimely death in 1968. In addition to his scholarly achievements, "Charlie" Tiebout brought wit, irreverence, and goodwill to everything he did and everyone he knew. He was particularly good in advising, counseling, and encouraging graduate students: thus, it is fitting that the WRSA's annual prize bearing his name be awarded to the best graduate student paper in regional science."

    Selected Publications (Charles M. Tiebout):

    (with Riefler,-Roger) Interregional Input-Output: An Empirical California-Washington Model Journal-of-Regional-Science; 10(2), Aug. 1970, pages 135-52.

    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.

    Professor Charles M. Tiebout died on January 16, 1968. He prepared a draft of this paper, but was not able to do the final polishing himself. Philip Bourque, of the University of Washington, and Karen Polenske, of Harvard University, prepared the manuscript for publication.

    NOTES: Input-Output and The Firm: A Technique for Using National and Regional Tables, The Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol. 49, No. 2. (May, 1967), pp. 260-262.

    (in Book Reviews; Industrial Organization; Government and Business; Industry Studies) Defense Purchases and Regional Growth Roger E. Bolton The American Economic Review, Vol. 57, No. 1. (Mar., 1967), pp. 304-306.

    (with Theodore Lane) The Local Service Sector in Relation to Economic Growth, in: Research and Education for Regional and Area Development. Iowa State Univ. Press 1966. [Iowa State University Center for Agricultural and Economic Development, Earl O. Heady, Executive Director], pp.95-109.

    (in Book Reviews; Economic History; Economic Development; National Economies) National Growth and Economic Change in the Upper Midwest James M. Henderson, Anne O. Krueger The American Economic Review, Vol. 55, No. 5. (Dec., 1965), pp. 1209-1212.

    Measuring the Impact of Regional Defense-Space Expenditures* (with Richard S. Peterson) The Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol. 46, No. 4. (Nov., 1964), pp. 421-428.

    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. [Architecture General Stacks: 330.973 C737sp no.16; OUGL & Suzzallo General Stacks HD82 .T517]

    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.

    (in Book Reviews) Local Impact of Foreign Trade: A Study in Methods of Local Accounting Werner Hochwald, Herbert E. Striner, Sidney Sonenblum The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 70, No. 1. (Feb., 1962), pp. 103-104.

    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.

    (in Book Reviews) The Location of the Synthetic-Fiber Industry: A Case Study in Regional Analysis Joseph Airov The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 69, No. 1. (Feb., 1961), pp. 80-81.

    "An Economic Theory of Fiscal Decentralization," in: NBER, Public Finances, Needs, Sources and Utilization. Princeton (Univ.Press), 1961, pp.79-96.

    (with Vincent Ostrom and Robert Warren) The Organization of Government in Metropolitan Areas: A Theoretical Inquiry, American Political Science Review. LV(4), December 1961, pp.831-42.
    Reprinted in: Ostrom,-Vincent. The meaning of American federalism: Constituting a self-governing society. San Francisco: Institute for Contemporary Studies; distributed by National Book Network, Lanham, Md., 1991, pages 137-61. Previously published: [1961].

    NOTES: Economies of Scale and Metropolitan Governments The Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol. 42, No. 4. (Nov., 1960), pp. 442-444.

    Community Income Multipliers: A Population Growth Model, Journal of Regional Science, 2(1), Spring 1960, pp.75ff.

    Interregional Input-Output Models: An Appraisal," Southern Economic Journal, vol.24, Oct., 1957, pp.140-47.
    Reprinted in: Cheshire,-Paul-C.; Evans,-Alan-W., eds. Urban and regional economics. International Library of Critical Writings in Economics, no. 14, Aldershot, U.K. and Brookfield, Vt.: Elgar, 1991, pages 194-201.
    also in: Ralph Pfouts, ed., The Techniques of Urban Economic Analysis, 1960, pp.395ff.

    (in Book Reviews) Location and the Space Economy: A General Theory Relating to Industrial Location, Market Areas, Land Use, Trade, and Urban Structure Walter Isard The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 65, No. 5. (Oct., 1957), p. 455.

    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. [JSTOR]
    Reprinted in: Cheshire,-Paul-C.; Evans,-Alan-W., eds. Urban and regional economics. International Library of Critical Writings in Economics, no. 14, Aldershot, U.K. and Brookfield, Vt.: Elgar, 1991, pages 164-72. also reprinted in other books [see e.g. JEL catalog]

    Exports and Regional Economic Growth The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 64, No. 2. (Apr., 1956), pp. 160-164.

    Exports and Regional Economic Growth: Rejoinder || to Douglass C. North' "Reply", The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 64, No. 2. (Apr., 1956), p. 169.

    The Urban Economic Base Reconsidered, Land Economics, Feb. 1956, pp.95-99.
    Reprinted in: Ralph Pfouts, ed., The Techniques of Urban Economic Analysis, 1960, pp.279ff.

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