The public sector has grown substantially in the last fifty years. In the euro area, for example, total government expenditures have been around fifty percent of GDP since the early 2000s, resulting in a growing tax burden or high public debt or both. At the same time, government had intervened in all aspects of economic life, from the provision of public goods and services to product and labor market regulation.
Infrastructures—tangible, intangible, and institutional public facilities, from bridges to health care—are a vital precondition for economic and societal wellbeing. There has been an increasing awareness that we cannot rely on market forces for infrastructure investment and maintenance. In this volume, experts from Europe, North and South America, and Asia examine the complexities of financing, installing, implementing, and regulating public infrastructures.
Emissions trading schemes figure prominently among policy instruments used to tackle the problem of climate change, and the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), begun in 2005, is the largest cap-and-trade market so far established. In the EU ETS, firms regulated by the scheme are provided with emissions allowances (each a one-time right to emit one ton of greenhouse gases) and can sell their unused allowances to firms that have higher rates of emissions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.