Sep 12th 2016

Public Economics (Coursera)

This course deals with the economic role of the state and explores factors that affect government performance. Both normative economic theories of the state and positive analyses of government’s involvement in the private sector will be presented.

In this course I will cover main features and dilemmas of government’s role and presence in the private sector and the society. Unlike conventional public economic courses that concentrate on taxation and public expenditures, I will offer a modern multidisciplinary perspective of government as an economic agent.

The course will summarize a vast body of empirical evidence from around the world as to what factors make governments more or less efficient.

Of primary interest will be the agency relations between government and society, i.e. ways and means to ensure government accountability and prevention of the abuse of power. Accordingly we will discuss the impact of constitutions and political regimes on government performance. The course will also deal with how the size of government and state capacity affect development, and how those evolve over time.

We will discuss proper scope of government – what programs and services the state should administer itself, and which of those should better be outsourced to private firms – perhaps in the private-public partnership format.

An important theme of the course will be the choice of appropriate tools for government intervention, and in particular - the tradeoff between public regulation, by resolving disputes by courts, and by opting for self-regulation and other private sector mechanisms.

We will discuss government pathologies, most and foremost corruption and ways and means to keep it under control. The dual role of civil society as an alternative to government and factor of government accountability will be explored.