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Chicago. Henry Simons’ last course. Fiscal Policy, 1946



Henry Simons’ course “Economics of Fiscal Policy” was introduced into the Chicago public finance offerings in the Winter Quarter of 1934-35 and was taught by him in all but two years before his suicide that happened immediately after the Spring Quarter of 1946 had concluded.

From Norman M. Kaplan’s student notes for Simon’s last course I have transcribed the list of course readings and the rough outline of the course discussed in the first two sessions.


Course Announcement

[Economics] 361. Economics of Fiscal Policy.—A study of fiscal practices with reference to (1) booms and depressions (budget-balancing), (2) distribution of income (inequality), and (3) composition of the national income (incidence). The latter weeks will be devoted to study of particular kinds of taxes, especial attention being given to problems of income taxation. Prerequisite: Economics 209 and 230 or equivalent. Spring: MWF 11; (joint meetings with Law 510e for a part of the Quarter, additional hours to be arranged); Simons.

Source: University of Chicago. Announcements: The College and the Divisions, Sessions of 1945-1946. Vol. XLV, No. 7 (June 15, 1945), p. 219.



Readings and Course Outline According to Kaplan Notes

March 27 [1946]

  1. Readings:

Hansen & Perloff, State and Local Finance in the National Economy (preferred). Chs. 9, 10, 11, 12 first, then parts I & II.

or Hansen, Fiscal Policy and Business Cycles

McGill, The Impact of Federal Tax (Latter part of course)

Simons, Personal Income Taxation (Latter part of course)

“Rules vs. Authority in Monetary Policy”, Simons

“On Debt Policy”, Simons

“The Beveridge Program, an Unsympathetic Interpretation” [optional], Simons

Public Finance and Full Employment, Fed. Res. Board publication on series of post-war studies. (Important for 1st part of course, especially 1st 2 papers, then Robinson and final paper.)

Part II of Groves, Financing Government, for those using this as a survey course.

Read portions of Beveridge book which have to do with fiscal policy, part I, part IV, appendices B & C. esp. sec. 4 of B and Append. C.


March 29 [1946]

  1. Topical Sequence of course

A. First part: monetary fiscal budgetary policy (Last part of Hansen, Fed. Res. Bd., Rules vs. Authority, Beveridge stuff[?])

B. Then justice, incidence, etc. of taxation

1. Justice of taxation Ch. 1 of Simons Personal Income Taxation 

2. Incidence of taxation Brown, Econ. of Taxation


Source: University of Chicago Archives. Norman M. Kaplan Papers, Box 1, Folder 6.

Image Source: University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf1-07613, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Irwin Collier

Posted by: Irwin Collier