The nature of optimal public policy

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


The design of public policy must take human nature as an immutable constraint, both with a view to choosing the appropriate policy objectives and in regard to the human response and hence the effects of the policy. Once human nature is seen in the proper light and the multiple needs of society are recognized, it is not difficult to see the logic of a hierarchy of policy objectives with some being treated as tentative constraints and others as “maximands.” Optimal public policy making in the short term would treat those constraints as given but over the longer term the constraints themselves are also subject to revision by the “policy coordination centre.” Throughout this iterative process, public policy analysts will have done a great service if they can lay bare the trade-off among conflicting policy goals and the relationship between policy choice parameters and policy target variables.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1013-1019
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Social Economics
Issue number7/8/9/10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000


  • Decision making
  • Policy management
  • Public administration
  • Social responsibility


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