Public Economics

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Camille Landais 32L 2.23


This course is compulsory on the BSc in Social Policy and Economics. This course is available on the BSc in Econometrics and Mathematical Economics, BSc in Economics, BSc in Economics and Economic History, BSc in Economics with Economic History, BSc in Environmental Policy with Economics, BSc in Geography with Economics, BSc in Government and Economics and BSc in Philosophy and Economics. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.


Students should have completed Microeconomic Principles I (EC201) or Microeconomic Principles II (EC202) or equivalent.

Course content

This is a course in theoretical and applied public economics using intermediate economic theory. Topics include issues of equity and efficiency and alternative theories of the role of the state. Recent research in behavioural economics and its implications for welfare analysis as well as for savings and pension policy. Models of public goods and externalities, including environmental policy. Who really pays taxes: issues of tax incidence and tax evasion. Income inequality, poverty alleviation and the role of welfare programmes in theory and in practice. Health and education policy. The effects of taxes and transfers on labour supply and migration; incomes and behavioural responses at the top of the income distribution. The optimal taxation of commodities and incomes. Current topics in public finance. The main institutional references will be to the UK and the US, but some attention will also be given to broader international experience.


15 hours of lectures and 7 hours of classes in the MT. 15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 3 hours of classes in the ST.

Formative coursework

Feedback is provided for one class presentation and one end-of-term essay (1,500 words) each term (Michaelmas and Lent).

Indicative reading

The recommended textbook for the course is Jonathan Gruber (2011) Public Finance and Public Policy, 3rd edition, Worth Publishers. Many of the readings will be journal articles.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Economics

Total students 2012/13: 153

Average class size 2012/13: 15

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills

Course survey results

(2010/11 - 2012/13 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 86.9%



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