Public Economics, fall 2013

course web page



Test 1      Test 2      Test 3

Slides: introduction to public goods

Public goods decision processes

Optimal government size: writeup, spreadsheet

Rawlsian redistribution

Election systems list

Homework assignments…

Reflection 1, due Friday, 9/6: What do you hope to get out of the course? What questions in public economics do you find interesting?

Reflection 2, due Monday, 9/16: Reflections on the role of government.

Problem set 1, due Monday, 9/23: Public goods. click here for the pdf

Problem set 2, due Monday, 9/30: Excludable public goods; revelation mechanisms. click here for the pdf

Reflection 3, due Wednesday, 10/16: brainstorm lit review topics

Problem set 3, due Wednesday, 10/23: Externalities. click here for the pdf

Reflection 4, due Wednesday, 10/30: Read the Mankiw et al and Diamond-Saez papers on optimal taxation, and evaluate their competing arguments on (a) income tax progressivity, and (b) capital taxation.

Problem set 4, due Monday, 11/11: Optimal government size. click here for the pdf

Problem set 5, due Monday, 12/2: Rawlsian redistribution. click here for the pdf

Reflection 5, due Monday, 12/9: Reflection on the 12/4 Obama speech. Assess the solutions he offers; anything to dispute or to add?

Problem set 6, due Monday, 12/16: Wrapping up. click here for the pdf


Articles to read

Public goods: Samuelson, Paul (1954) The Pure Theory of Public Expenditure. Review of Economics and Statistics 36:4, 387-389.

Lindahl taxes: Lindahl, Erik (1958) Just Taxation -- A Positive Solution.

Majority rule equilibrium: Black, Duncan (1948) On the Rationale of Group Decision Making. Journal of Political Economy 56:1, 23-34.

Clarke tax: Tideman, Nicolaus and Gordon Tullock (1976) A New and Superior Process for Making Social Choices. Journal of Political Economy 84:6, 1145-1159.

Common resources: Hardin, Garrett (1968) The Tragedy of the Commons. Science 162:3859, 1243-1248.

Coase theorem: Coase, Ronald (1960) The Problem of Social Cost. Journal of Law and Economics 3:1, 1–44

Tiebout model: Tiebout, Charles (1956) A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures. Journal of Political Economy 64:5, 416–424

Optimal taxation 1: Mirrlees, James (1971) An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation. Review of Economic Studies 38:2, 175-208.

Optimal taxation 2: Mankiw, N. Gregory, Matthew Weinzierl, and Danny Yagan (2009) Optimal Taxation in Theory and Practice. Journal of Economic Perspectives 23:4, 147-74.

Optimal taxation 3: Diamond, Peter, and Emmanuel Saez (2011) The Case for a Progressive Tax: From Basic Research to Policy Recommendations. Journal of Economic Perspectives 25:4, 165-90.