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Public Economics

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Education and the Economics of Growth

In this book Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann make a simple, central claim, developed with rigorous theoretical and empirical support: knowledge is the key to a country’s development. Of course, every country acknowledges the importance of developing human capital, but Hanushek and Woessmann argue that message has become distorted, with politicians and researchers concentrating not on valued skills but on proxies for them. The common focus is on school attainment, although time in school provides a very misleading picture of how skills enter into development.

The Economics of Well-Being

Can money buy happiness? Is income a reliable measure for life satisfaction? In the West after World War II, happiness seemed inextricably connected to prosperity. Beginning in the 1960s, however, other values began to gain ground: peace, political participation, civil rights, environmentalism.

The United States and other advanced economies in the Eurozone and elsewhere face severe fiscal problems. The United States is on an unsustainable dynamic path; absent corrective fiscal policies, federal deficits and debts relative to gross domestic product will continue to increase dramatically. In this book, experts consider possible fiscal reforms aimed at addressing the debt problem, focusing on entitlement programs, budgetary issues and processes, and individual and corporate income tax reform.

Environmental Taxes and Fiscal Reform in the United States

Energy utilization, especially from fossil fuels, creates hidden costs in the form of pollution and environmental damages. The costs are well documented but are hidden in the sense that they occur outside the market, are not reflected in market prices, and are not taken into account by energy users. Double Dividend presents a novel method for designing environmental taxes that correct market prices so that they reflect the true cost of energy.

What Reduces Offending?

Economists who bring the tools of economic analysis to bear on the study of crime and crime prevention contribute to current debates a normative framework and sophisticated quantitative methods for evaluating policy, the idea of criminal behavior as rational choice, and the connection of individual choices to aggregate outcomes. The contributors to this volume draw on all three of these approaches in their investigations and discuss the policy implications of their findings.

A solutions manual for all 582 exercises in the second edition of Intermediate Public Economics.

Public economics studies how government taxing and spending activities affect the economy—economic efficiency and the distribution of income and wealth. This comprehensive text on public economics covers the core topics of market failure and taxation as well as recent developments in both policy and the academic literature. It is unique not only in its broad scope but in its balance between public finance and public choice and its combination of theory and relevant empirical evidence.

In Giving Kids a Fair Chance, Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman argues that the accident of birth is the greatest source of inequality in America today. Children born into disadvantage are, by the time they start kindergarten, already at risk of dropping out of school, teen pregnancy, crime, and a lifetime of low-wage work. This is bad for all those born into disadvantage and bad for American society.

Global public goods (GPGs)--the economic term for a broad range of goods and services that benefit everyone, including stable climate, public health, and economic security--pose notable governance challenges. At the national level, public goods are often provided by government, but at the global level there is no established state-like entity to take charge of their provision. The complex nature of many GPGs poses additional problems of coordination, knowledge generation and the formation of citizen preferences.

Retrospective and Prospective Views

Many things inform a country’s choice of tax system, including political considerations, public opinion, bureaucratic complexities, and ideas drawn from theoretical analysis. In this book, Robin Boadway examines the role of optimal tax analysis in informing and influencing tax policy design. Scholars of public economics formulate models of optimal tax-transfer systems based on normative principles that reflect efficiency and equity considerations. They use that analysis to form views about the optimal design or reform of actual tax systems that are much more complicated than their models.

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