Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

Edward Elgar, Ltd. has published Economic Behavior and Distributional Choice: Selected Writings of Harold M. Hochman, the key papers on income redistribution and policy written by the William E. Simon Professor of Political Economy at Lafayette.

A distinguished scholar in the field of public economics, Hochman’s contributions to the theoretical discussion of distributive justice are widely cited and have had a lasting impact on the way economists consider distributional issues. The volume encompasses many of his contributions to the discussion of the relationship between distributional preference, income transfer policy, and economic justice, including the concept of Pareto Optimal Distribution, which involves the advantage gained by bettering one party without diminishing another.

Hochman’s work has significantly advanced understanding of the ways in which economic analysis can inform income distribution policy. The groundbreaking writings include a set of innovative papers on fiscal design, urban policy, and addictive behavior.

“For me, economics is not pure science, and ideas emerge and develop in context, personal and intellectual,” says Hochman. “My writings, in spirit, reflect who I am, how I evolved, and how I think, more broadly, about individual and communal life; at the same time, they have helped to shape it. And they are a lens through which I can, by reflection, attain a better understanding of myself and what’s going on around me.”

His introduction to the book describes the birth and development of a new direction in thinking and the papers that follow cover the evolution of an idea: the alliance between distribution policy and distributional preference as developed through public choice theory.

Hochman’s accomplished career was celebrated in the fall 2001 issue of Eastern Economic Journal. Steven Pressman of Monmouth University lauded his work as the journal’s editor and his scholarly research. Article co-author James Rodgers of Penn State University, who coauthored the groundbreaking article “Pareto Optimal Distribution” with Hochman, praised his role as teacher and scholar.

“First, in a series of papers with James Rodgers[Hochman] traced out the relationship between utility interdependence and redistribution,” wrote Pressman. “Second, he developed the empirical underpinnings of redistribution through public choice by looking at attitudes toward risk and distributional choices. Third, Hal has written about the ‘urban crisis’ plaguing large cities such as New York. Finally, Hal has developed models of addictive behavior.”

Hochman has published several dozen articles in top journals such as American Economic Review and Quarterly Journal of Economics. He recently authored “Is Democracy an Antidote to Extremism?” in Political Extremism and Rationality, edited by Albert Breton, Gianluigi Galeotti, Pierre Salmon, and Ronald Wintrobe for Cambridge University Press in 2002. In all, he has edited or co-edited seven books. In addition to serving as editor of Eastern Economic Journal from 1991-1998, Hochman has served on the editorial boards of National Tax Journal and Public Finance Quarterly for many years.

As editor of Eastern Economic Journal, he streamlined operations, cut publication costs, introduced a regular column, and brought about other significant improvements, notes Pressman: “Great emphasis was placed on making sure that the articles published in the Journal were clearly written and accessible to a large audience. Hal always stressed that articles must try to say something new, rather than merely change some assumption and derive the same old resultsMore articles appeared that tried to make unique and new points, and more articles were published that tried to increase our understanding of the real economic world.”

“Hal is inventive, irreverent, acerbic and a gentleman all at the same time,” writes Rodgers. “Finally, Hal is not a ‘true believer’ in any particular approach or position; rather, he is open to being influenced by evidence. All of these qualities made being taught by him and conducting research with him a rich and memorable experience.”

Born in New Haven, Conn., in 1936, Hochman earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in economics from Yale University in 1957, 1959, and 1965, respectively. Hochman has been William E. Simon Professor of Economics at Lafayette since 1992. Previously, he held faculty appointments at City University of New York, University of Virginia, and Yale University, and visiting appointments at University of California-Berkeley, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, University of Turin (Italy), Wesleyan University, and Williams College, and both administrative and research appointments at several policy research organizations.

Categorized in: Academic News