The Myth of Social Cost: A critique of welfare economics and the implications for public policy

With a Prologue by Charles K. Rowley and an Epilogue by John Burton

For over 50 years economists have argued that where private costs or benefits differ from social costs or benefits - in noise, smells, congestion, pollution of the environment - there is a 'clear case' for government intervention to correct the divergence. This argument has been used to justify almost endless intervention.

However, the original analysts of social costs/benefits were led into error by failing to test their propositions against the evidence of real life. Painstaking empirical studies clearly demonstrate these errors. 

A divergence between private and social cost is no decisive justification for government action to c