Public Economics for Research Students

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Camille Landais 32L.3.23 and Dr Johannes Spinnewijn 32L.3.24

Dr Xavier Jaravel and Dr Daniel Reck


This course is available on the MRes in Economics and MRes/PhD in Economics. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

The course will cover the economics of the public sector, including material on taxation, public expenditures and political economics. The course, which covers both theory and empirics, aims to give students a broad overview of this growing field and bring them to the research frontier.

The specific topics covered may vary from year to year, but the following general areas would typically be included:

  • Behavioural responses to taxes and transfers
  • Optimal taxation
  • Dynamic taxation
  • Behavioural public economics
  • Social insurance
  • Federalism
  • Privatization and regulation
  • Voting
  • The role of communication in politics
  • Special-interest politics
  • Political institutions
  • Political accountability


30 hours of lectures in the MT. 30 hours of lectures in the LT.

Formative coursework

One piece of work per term will be required and feedback given by teachers.

Indicative reading

Readings will be mainly from journal articles; a list will be supplied at the start of the term. Although the course will not be based on a textbook as such, it will make extensive use of the Handbook of Public Economics Vol. 1-4 (A.J. Auerbach and M. Feldstein, eds.) and of T Persson and G. Tabellini, Political Economy, MIT Press, 2002.


Other (40%) and other (30%) in the MT and LT.
Take home exam (30%) in the ST.

The assessment for this course is as follows:

1) 4 problem sets due throughout the MT and LT terms (40%)

2) An "extended replication exercise" (30%) which would consist of:

                i) writing a referee report on that paper (MT)

                ii) replicating a paper (empirical paper or paper based on simulations),  (beginning of LT)

                iii) starting an extension of that paper (which requires developing a research design, positioning the question of the extension in the literature, etc.) ; (end of LT, start of ST)

3) A take-home exam in the ST (30%)

Key facts

Department: Economics

Total students 2016/17: Unavailable

Average class size 2016/17: Unavailable

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information