Programme And Module Handbook
Course Details in 2021/22 Session

If you find any data displayed on this website that should be amended, please contact the Curriculum Management Team.

Module Title LH Public Economics
SchoolBirmingham Business School
Department Economics
Module Code 07 32226
Module Lead Allan Beltran / Wanyu Chung
Level Honours Level
Credits 20
Semester Semester 2
Restrictions None
Description This module provides an introduction to public economics¬, which is the positive and normative study of the role of government in the economy through taxation, expenditure and regulation. The module’s aims are to explain the behaviour of government, the responses of individuals, households and firms to that behaviour and the welfare effects of the government’s actions.
The module will explore topics related to the two main reasons for government intervention in the economy: allocation of resources, when private market outcomes are Pareto inefficient because of either market failure or the underutilisation of resources (e.g. labour); and distribution of resources, when private market outcomes lead to socially undesirable distributions of income or wealth. This exploration may include studying the notions of efficiency and incidence, which can be used to frame the effects of government intervention on the allocation and distribution of resources in the economy and which are the main measures that economists use to evaluate the welfare effects of government policy.
The first part of the module will provide an introduction to public economics, including an overview of the theoretical and empirical tools of analysis that are part of the public economist’s toolkit. The second part of the module will study issues related to market failures and social insurance. Topics related to market failures may include externalities and public goods, political economy, cost benefit analysis, state and local government expenditures and specific problems and solutions related to education. Other topics may include social insurance, social security, unemployment insurance, disability insurance and income distribution and welfare programs.
The third part of the module will cover taxation in theory and practise, including an overview of what taxation means and how it works. Topics may include the equity implications of taxation, including tax incidence; inefficiencies of taxation and their implications for optimal taxation as well as taxes on labour supply, savings, risk taking, wealth, businesses and consumption.
Learning Outcomes By the end of the module students should be able to:
  • demonstrate general knowledge and understanding of public economics;
  • demonstrate familiarity with some applications of economics that have been specific to the study of public economics;
  • manipulate relevant economic models in the area of public economics;
  • critically analyse the empirical literature in the area of public economics;
  • apply critical analysis to the topics of the module, formulate concepts and hypotheses, and show how they are tested in relevant literature.
Assessment 32226-01 : Coursework : Coursework (50%)
32226-02 : Exam : Exam (Centrally Timetabled) - Written Unseen (50%)
Assessment Methods & Exceptions 2000-word coursework assignment (50%),
2-hour final exam (50%)
Reading List