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Public Finance


Units: 12


Public Finance (90-736/90-435) provides an introduction to the theory and practice of how national, regional and local governments should and actually finance their budgets for operating and capital project purposes. To accomplish this, the course reviews: i] rationales for government intervention in the market place, ii] analyzes methods of resolving conflicts over the size of the public sector budget, iii] extensively analyzes the rationales and issues of various types of tax revenue, and iv] reviews the effects of public sector spending and taxes on the aggregate economy. Throughout, Public Finance emphasizes the interplay between how current revenue policy is fashioned, and how the models and their key assumptions along with political processes interact which result in changes in current law at the federal, state, and local levels. Public Finance focuses mainly on the revenue side of the public budget. Two courses typically offered by Professor Strauss in the Spring build on Public Finance. Public Expenditure Analysis (90-774/90-474) deals with techniques for evaluating private and public expenditure and capital spending decisions. Education Finance and Policy (90-817) deals in-depth with issues surrounding multi-level government finance from US and international perspectives.  Public Finance is taught in lecture/discussion format with an emphasis on developing each student's reasoning skills. Original course lecture outlines in .doc format are maintained in Canvas, along with working Excel examples used in class, and assigned and optional readings.   Evaluation is based on evaluation of short-essay midterms and final exams, problem sets and class participation. Students may drop the lowest midterm and problem set grade. For more information about Professor Strauss and this course, see respectively: and and the Public Finace entry under "Teaching" for current information as well as the Heinz, masters program entry for 90-736.

Learning Outcomes

see entry for 90-736

Prerequisites Description

see entry for 90-736