US Public Economics

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Educational level: this is a tertiary (university) resource.

Welcome to US Public Economics. You should know basic principles of micro- and macroeconomics before attempting this course. The goal of public economics is to understand the proper role of government in the economy. Researchers in public economics question what kinds of goods and services the government ought to provide, if any. Why does the government have a history of providing certain goods, like infrastructure and education? Along these lines, public economists also ask how the government ought to fund the provision of these goods and services. How much should the government tax its citizens, and what effect might those taxes have?

Introduction to Public Economics[edit | edit source]

At the most fundamental level, public economics is the study of the government in the economy. You may consult the Wikipedia page on Public Economics, which defines Public Economics as "the study of government policy through the lens of economic efficiency and equity."[1]

Public economists are concerned with broad questions about when the government should become involved in the economy, how the government ought to become involved, what the effect of the government's involvement or disengagement might be, and why the government becomes involved in the way it does. However, we must remember that economists are not interested the ethical answers to these questions. For example, while refusing to provide education to racial minorities is obviously unethical and wrong, public economists are concerned with the economic impacts of such a situation. Additionally, public economists are focused on specific instances rather than broad analytical questions. While a question like "What is the effect of any taxation on citizens?" is interesting, public economists would be more focused on a question like "What is the effect of a 12% sales tax on alcohol on consumption? How much revenue would such a tax raise?"

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]