WVU, Spring 2017
Professor Roger D. Congleton
| Class Room: B&E
401 Class Time:
M&W: 1:00 - 2:15
Suggested Reference Library:
Besley, T. and T. Persson (2011) Pillars of Prosperity. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Congleton, R. D. (2011) Perfecting Parliament. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
*Congleton, R. D. and B. Swedenborg (2006) Democratic Constitutional Design and Public Policy. Cambridge Mass: MIT Press.
Knight, F. H. Risk Uncertainty and Profit. (1985/1921) Midway Reprint edition, University of Chicago Press.
*Hillman, A. L. (2009) Public Finance and Public Policy, Responsibilities and Limitations of Government. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Olson, M. (2000) Power and Prosperity: Outgrowing Communist and Capitalist Dictatorships. New York: Basic Books
*Tanzi, V. and L. Schuknecht (2000) Public Spending in the 20th Century: A Global Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Stigler, G. J. (ed.) (1988) Chicago Studies in Political Economy. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Martinez-Vazquez and Winer, S. L. (Eds.) (2014) Coercion and Social Welfare in Public Finance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
* Strongly Recommended
| Office Hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 2:30-3:30,
and by appointment
Class Notes, available via this website, (will be updated during semester)
||At the time when classical micro economic
textbooks were written government spending was on the order
of 10% of GDP and government policies could be ignored.
Today, direct government expenditures range between 40-60
percent of GDP in the West. Much of the private sector is
influenced by that spending. In addition, there are a wide
variety of regulations that affect returns from food
production, home construction, healthcare delivery, and the
financial markets. Even the basic property rights that
underpin private market activity are substantially products
of legislation, government policy makers (e.g. judges), and
their associated bureaucracies. For all of these reasons,
public economic is central to understanding the manner in
which contemporary markets operate.
This course develops the core tools necessary to understand the inter-play between contemporary economic and political systems, with the aim of explaining why particular public policies are selected and how they effect economic activity. It is for the most part a lecture-based course, although some classes will have a seminar format. The first third of the course, provides an overview of the core models of public policy formation. The second focuses on the emergence and growth of the welfare state in the twentieth century. The last third explores the role of institutions in constraining public policy and issues associated with normative theory (welfare economics).
|Part One: Mainstream Models of Public
Economics and Policy Formation
9 - Jan
Introduction: What is Public Economics?
Measuring the size of the Public Sector, Trends in government finance and regulation in the West.
Methodological Issue: Can public policy ever be regarded as an exogenous variable? If public policy is endogenous, how should it be modeled and estimated? On the meanings of causality and its relevance for modeling and estimation. Models as tractable simplifications. The Growth of Government in the 20th century. (1 lecture)
AH: 1 T&S 2, 5
GAO overview of
US Gov Finances (report)
World Bank Statistics
|11 - Jan
the Microeconomics of Markets, Economics, and Public
Goods: The Core of Neoclassical Public Economics.
The geometry and mathematics of the net benefit maximizing model of rational choice.
Competitive markets, efficiency, externalities, and public goods.
The burden of taxation. Pigovaian taxation.
The efficient supply of Pure Public Goods, Samuelson and Lindalh Taxes. (5 lectures)
|AH: 5, 2
Geometry / Calculus / Prices
Demsetz (1970) , Dahlman (1979) , Sandler (2014)
|30 - Jan
(3.) Rational Choice Politics and Democratic Public Policy, Why Aren't Public Policies Perfect?
Overview: from Public Finance to Public Choice and Political Economy / Making Fiscal Policy Endogenous
The median voter theorem. Electoral models of public policy formation: the median voter model and public finance. Addendum: Some Problematic Properties of Majority rule
Interest Group models of public policy formation: Olson, Chicago, and Virginia models/ Rent Seeking and Rent Extraction (6 lectures)
Median Voter: Congleton (2002)
Downs (1957), Logan (1986)
Buchanan (1998), Harstad(2005)
Buchanan (1998, ch. 1-3)
Grofman (1983), Congleton (2007)
Ostrom (2014), C & S (intro)
Olson (1965), Congleton (2015)
Tullock (1967), Peltzman (1976)
Becker (1983), McChesney (1987), Hillman and Riley (1989)
Coates and Hekelman (2003)
Congleton and Lee (2009) Stratmann (2017)
20 - Feb
| 4.) Rational Choice
Theories of the emergence of authoritarian and democratic
governments Two core models: conquest and
contract theories of the state (2 Lectures)
6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6C
Brennan and Buchanan (1980)
Olson (1993) Congleton (2001, 2011b)
|Part II, An Alternative
Perspective on the Electoral Demand for Public Policy:
Social Insurance and Crisis Management
|27 - Feb
(5.) Risk, Uncertainty, and the Demand for Risk Management: Private and Public risk reducing rules and other strategies. Why do private insurance markets under provide insurance? the lemons market and adverse selection. Governance as partial solution for risk and uncertainty. The civil law as risk management. (2 lectures)
13 - March
|(6.) Risk, Uncertainty, and the
Demand for Social Insurance:
The demand for social insurance. The early "liberal" welfare
state and the Emergence of the Welfare (Nanny) State in the
1970s and 1980s: Risk Aversion, Transfers, and Ideological
Considerations. Empirical Evidence. Has social
insurance become the "main product" of Western democracy? (1
Cutler and Johnson (2004)
Congleton and Bose (2010)
|15 - March
|20 - March
Take Home Exam Distributed (Click Here)
|(8) Uninsurable Risks: On the Limits of Social Insurance: Difference between insurable and uninsurable risks, Beyond the normal insurance market problems: unknown risks and uncertainty. What happens when insurance is sold or provided for such risks? AIG and Ireland's banking crisis. Can one have too much insurance? (1 lecture)||
Doherty and Schlesinger (1990)
Jaffee and Russell (1997)
|1 - April
||Take Home Exams Due Via Email
|Part III Normative Theory and
|22 - March
(9) Evaluating Public Policies: Normative Economics
The Utilitarian Foundations of Contemporary Welfare Economics, Alternatives to Utilitarian Philosophical Bases, Contractarian Theory, Natural Rights, Conventionalism, Lindalh vs Samuelsonian taxation Ethics and Public Policy: the Positive Study of Ethics
(1 Lectures, and 1 Round Tables).
T&S 3, 5
Samuelson and Public Goods (1954)
Mishan (1959), Bohanon (1990), Besley and Coate (2003), Buchanan (1987), Feld and Frey (2002), Congleton (ch. 11)
|5 - April
||Take-Home Exams Returned and Reviews / Paper Workshop||Paper Topics|
|Part IV Constitutional Political
Economy: Institutions and Public Policy
27 - March
|(10) Institutions, Culture, and
Democratic Public Policy
Constitutional Analysis: Two levels of analysis: the choice of rules and behavior under the rules. The early literature explored consequences of institutional variation within federal countries (chiefly the USA and Switzerland). Subsequent research focsed on international data. Economic Freedom and Polity indices as problematic efforts to measure "rules of the game."
Theoretical effects of institutions. Evaluating Institutional Quality. Are institutions exogenous?
The possible role of culture, how culture (internalized norms) affects educational, economic and political choices. Ethical solutions to free riding problems. Ideology as norm and as theory.
AH: 3.1, 3.2, 4.2
Knack and Keefer (1997)
Person and Tabellini (2004)
Glaeser, La Porta, Silanes, and Schleifer (2004)
Besley and Persson (2009)
Congleton (2011 , 2013)
Zak and Knack (2001)
Frey and Stutzer (2000)
Feld and Frey (2002)
5 - April
Federalism (2 lectures)
|12 - April
||Course Overview: / Forrest From the Trees Lecture|
|24 - 26 April
|| Student Paper Presentations (15-20
minutes each), Discussion and Paper Workshop / Seminar
Format (2 class periods)
16-24 Page research paper due midnight via e-mail on an applied public economics topic
** A Few Lecture Dates may be changed because of conference travel.