Public Finance


This course will endow you with the tools to understand the economics of taxation. We will deal  with important policy issues:
•    How should the government raise a given amount of taxes?
•    What are the efficiency and equity consequences of tax policy?
•    What are the main challenges in the design of taxes?
The course does not deal with the reasons for government intervention (they are covered in Microeconomic courses), nor with the expenditure side of the public sector (there are several courses devoted to that: education, health, etc.).

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Ana Fontoura Gouveia


Weekly - Available soon

Total - Available soon

Teaching language




The course will be based on selected charapters of:

  • Gruber "Public Finance and Public Policy", Worth Publishers, 2nd edition, 2009

  • Stiglitz "Economics of the Public Sector", Norton publishers

  • Hindriks and Myles, "Intermediate Public Economics", MIT Press 2006.

  • Selected research papers and charapters of the Handbook of Public Economics

  • Lecture slides, problem sets and all the relevant material for the course is available on Moodle.

    Teaching method

    We shall meet twice weekly for 80 min classes. Classes are devoted to the presentation of the material by instructor and to the discussion and presentation of policy topics by the students.

    Two take-home problem sets will allow the students to learn the concepts and the analytical modelling of the issues

    Students will have to read policy relevant papers and write one report on one of them - this will allow them to train their capacity for critical analysis and to derive policy implications from their knowledge

    In addition, each students is expected to contribute to the blog, the blog of the Nova Econ students. There will be a total of 2 contributions throughout the term.

    Evaluation method

    The assessment has three components:
    Assignment 1 - Referee report (25%): Individual assignment. Critical report on one empirical paper (list made available by the instructor). 3 pages max. Due 11th October.

    Assignment 2 - One take-home problem set (10%): Group assignment. Max. 3 students per group. Due 4th October (posted one week earlier).

    Final exam (65%): Minimum grade 8/20. 23 Oct. 11h (90 minutes).

    Subject matter

    Weeks 1 – 2 Why study public finance?; Taxation in developed countries; Tools for the study of Public Economics
    Weeks 3 – 5: Tax incidence, tax distortions and optimal taxation Week 6: Tax reform


    Programs where the course is taught: