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Public Economics

  • Enseignant(s):   C.Terrier  
  • Titre en français: Economie publiques
  • Cours donné en: anglais
  • Crédits ECTS: 6 crédits
  • Horaire: Semestre de printemps 2019-2020, 4.0h. de cours (moyenne hebdomadaire)
  •  séances
  • Formation concernée: Maîtrise universitaire ès Sciences en économie politique



Lectures – Wednesdays 8:30am-12am (Location: Anthropole 5093)


Camille Terrier (

Maleke Fourati (

Teaching assistant

Ha My Bui (

This course studies the role of the government in the economy. The aim is to provide an understanding of reasons for government intervention in the economy, analyzing the benefits of possible government policies, and the responses of economic agents to the government's actions. The first part of the course covers tax incidence, theories of optimal labor tax, labor supply responses to taxes, and responses of taxable income to taxes. The second part covers market failures and government interventions. After having focused on labor taxation in the first section, we will cover capital taxation and corporate taxation in the second part, as well as topics on externalities, public goods, development, and specific areas of public spending such as health insurance, retirement policies, unemployment insurance, or public spending on education. The last class will focus on experimental measures of preferences for redistribution.

The class will combine lectures from Profs Terrier and Fourati, presentations of recent research work by researchers in public economics, and presentations of research papers by students from the class.


The classes will cover the following topics:

Part 1: Introduction and theory of optimal taxation

Class 1 (Feb 19): Introduction to public economics, taxes and transfers, theoretical and empirical tools

Class 2 (Feb 26): Tax incidence and optimal labor tax

Guest presentation by Hélène Benghalem on the taxation of temporary jobs.

Class 3 (March 4): Optimal labor tax

Class 4 (March 11): Labor supply response to taxes and responses of taxable income to taxes

Guest presentation by Matthias Krapf on behavioral responses to wealth taxes

Part 2: Market failures and government interventions

Class 5 (March 25): Capital taxation and corporate taxation

Class 6 (April 1): Externalities and Public Goods

Class 7 (April 8): Public Economics and Development

Class 8 (April 22): Special session on Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital in the 21st century”

Students will team up to present chapters of the book

Class 9 (April 29): Cost / benefit analysis and Political Economy

Class 10 (May 06): Social Insurance and Health Insurance

Class 11 (May 13): Education Policies and Public Spending on Education

Presentation by Camille Terrier on the fiscal spillover effect of charter schools in the U.S.

Class 12 (May 20): Unemployment Insurance, Disability Insurance, and Workers’ Compensation

Guest presentation by Rafael Lalive on unemployment insurance

Class 13 (May 27): Preferences for redistribution and its experimental measures


Jonathan Gruber, Public Finance and Public Policy, 6th edition, Macmillan, 2019 is an optional textbook (the slides follow the Gruber book).

The other readings discussed in the lecture notes can be found in the reference list for each lecture. The pdf of the papers will be posted on moodle.


Students should be comfortable with undergraduate microeconomics and econometrics classes.


1ère tentative

Ecrit 2h00 heures

The evaluation will consist of a final exam and in-class presentation:

- The final exam (2h) will be open book and conducted via Moodle. The exam will consist of a combination of multiple-choice questions and questions related to the lectures. It will cover the content of all lecture notes but not students' presentations nor guest speakers' presentations. The grade will account for 75% of the final grade.

- Presentations (30 minutes). Students will present research papers in class. The presentations will last for 30 minutes. The grades received on these evaluations will account for 25% of the final grade. Evaluations criteria for these presentations will be presented in class.


Ecrit 2h00 heures

The retake exam will consist of 75% of the final grade. Presentation still accounts for the remaning 25%.

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