ECON 503(F) Public Economics
Public economics is the branch of economics concerned with government expenditure and taxation, focusing primarily on microeconomic aspects of these activities. It provides tools for understanding the effects of government policies, as well as a useful conceptual framework for analyzing normative questions such as "what is a good policy?" This seminar will present the basic principles for public economics, and apply them to topics of particular importance in developing countries. The course will begin by considering the efficiency of market economies, and rationales for government intervention in the market, such as public goods, externalities, information-based market failures, and equity. Applications include education, health care, aid to the poor, and infrastructure. We then move on to the economics of taxation, considering what kinds of taxes are used in developing countries and how they are designed, the economic and distributional effects of taxation, questions of administration and evasion, and options for reform. Time permitting, we will also address topics such as pubic enterprises, political economy, and decentralization.
Format: lecture/discussion. Requirements: problem sets, one 5- to 7-page paper, a 15-page final paper, midterm, and a final exam.
Prerequisites: Economics 251. In addition, an empirical methods course (Economics 253, 255, 510 or 511, or Statistics 346) must be taken before or concurrently with this class. Enrollment limit: 30 (expected: 25-30). Undergraduate enrollment limited and requires instructor's permission.