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Course Details

Course Number: 90-736

Public Finance

Units: 12

The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to the theory and practice of public finance. As such the course reviews the rationale for government intervention in the market place, the rationale for various sources of public revenue, and a general investigation of policy issues surrounding the public sector. Because the subject matter can easily consume an entire academic year of study, Public Finance focuses mainly on the revenue side of the public budget.

The required text for the course is Richard A. Musgrave and Peggy B. Musgrave, Public Finance in Theory and Practice, New York: McGraw Hill Book Company, 5th edition (1989). In addition, it is strongly recommended that you subscribe to The Wall Street Journal in order to keep abreast of fiscal events.

The format of the course is lecture/discussion. The Musgrave and Musgrave text (MM) is self-explanatory but extremely terse; the text and footnotes require close reading. Lectures will typically involve elaboration of key points in the text and new material.

Students are required to have read the assigned material prior to lecture, and will be asked questions about the assigned material. The answers will be graded.

Evaluation of student performance is based on written essay examinations, problem sets, and class participation. Answers to problem sets must be typed or word-processed. Handwritten answers to problem sets will not be accepted.

There will be three examinations: at six weeks, at twelve weeks, and at the end of the semester worth 20%, 20%, and 30% respectively. The final examination will cover the entire course, while the two mid-term exams will cover the material in the immediately preceding six weeks. There are five problem sets, each worth 5%. Class participation is worth 10%.

The problem sets are to be worked on and answered separately and independently by each student.

Robert P Strauss