公共经济学

Public Economics

本课程探究国家在经济调控中扮演的角色,以及影响政府绩效的因素。同时也将介绍标准的国家经济理论及对政府参与私营部门的正面解析。

高等经济学院

Coursera

经济

普通(中级)

14 小时

课程概况

在本课程中我将介绍政府在私营部门与社会中所担任角色的主要功能及其面临的困境。不像传统公共经济课程那样集中于税收与公共开支,我将从现代多学科角度讲述政府作为经济主体的作用。
这门课程将总结大量世界各地关于有哪些因素影响政府效率的实证证据。

我们主要关心的是政府和社会机构之间的关系,即确保政府的问责及预防滥用职权的方法和途径。因此我们将讨论宪法和政治制度对政府行为的影响。本课程还将涉及政府大小与国家能力是如何影响其发展及其随着时间如何演变的问题。

我们将讨论政府恰当的管理范围——哪些项目和服务国家应该亲自管理,哪些最好应该外包给私营企业管理——也许以公私合营的方式。
本课程一个重要的主题是通过法院解决争端,通过选择进行自我监管以及其他私人部门的机制为政府干预选择适当的工具,特别是——公共法规间的权衡。
我们将讨论政府疾病,大多数且最重要的腐败问题及其控制方法和手段。我们将探讨可以作为政府的一种替代的公民社会的双重角色及影响政府问责的因素。

This course offers an introduction into the public economics theory. It does not aspire to cover theories of taxation, public expenditures, regulation etc. at length and in-depth. Rather, our ambition is to give a bird’s-eye view of central themes of public economics and related disciplines, and teach concepts, logic, and ideas, rather than methods of analysis, which would require an entirely different course format.

Our choice of topics covered by the course reflects a trade-off between salience and centrality, on the one hand, and suitability for a brief online introductory course, on the other. The course content is neither comprehensive (which would be a “mission impossible” for virtually any public economics course”), nor representative of other such courses. With these limitations and caveats in mind, we encourage our students to continue their public economics studies in a more regular fashion, and see our role inter alia in motivating interest in such “continued education”.

The central theme of the course is the role of government as a mechanism of resource allocation which complements and augments markets. Governments are viewed as public agencies set to correct market failures. Such agencies however are prone to failures of their own, and hence markets and governments are two imperfect alternatives. We deal with government’s limitations, with particular emphasis on those that have to do with informational asymmetry, limited administrative capacity, and imperfect accountability to society. Otherwise the course’s man themes are economics of taxation, regulation, politics of public economics, incentives in government, and government vis-à-vis (civil) society.

课程大纲

第1周:国家——一个经济主体
In this lecture we discuss reasons calling for government presence in market economies. We stress key advantages of markets over governments which make privately taken decisions highly efficient in the absence of externalities. The latter significantly distorts the work of market mechanism and lead to inefficient outcomes. We consider possible solutions to this inefficiency which are based either on coasean agreements or on public coercion (governements) and discuss conditions, advantages, and disadvantages related to these solutions.
第2周:影响国家效力与管理质量的因素
This lecture covers the positive and normative theories of taxation, ways and means to collect public revenues, and existing informational, administrative, political constraints governments have to deal with. We consider lump sum tax as first best option which implementation in practice, unfortunately, is severely restricted by informational asymmetry. Then follows a cursory introduction into one of the most beautiful (but also most technically complex) parts of public economics which characterizes optimal tax schedules minimizing welfare losses subject to information constraints; such analysis is carried out in the so-called Mirrlees economy. Another focal point of the lecture is the role of elasticity in selecting taxes and how the concept of elasticity can be applied to the analysis of time inconsistency in taxation.

第3周:国家与社会:一个代理问题
In this lecture we discuss how governments perform their key functions such as public regulation and public service delivery using three cases. In the first case, we discuss alternative means to control externalities by considering situations when private firms could cause harm to third parties (employees, customers, local communities etc.). These means include (a) imposing mandatory requirements upon firms to take precautionary measures, (b) allowing damaged parties to sue firms in the court of law, and (c) leaving such incidents to Coase-style private solutions. In the second case, we compare two modalities of public service delivery, namely in-house, by government agencies, or through outsourcing to private sector firms. Finally, we discuss the phenomenon of regulatory capture when wealthy elites unnecessarily complicate and obstruct the entry into the formal sector.

第4周:政府大小与管理范围
This lecture begins with an analysis of how public economic policies differ from each other in democracies and autocracies. We next turn to politics of public economics in democracies and begin with the classical result about non-existence of a universal rule of democratic aggregation of preferences (Arrow's impossibility theorem). Then introduce so-called single-peaked preferences and discuss the role of median voter in collective decision making. Another problem occurs in polarized societies where even economically optimal democratic choice leaves people far to the left and/or far to the right from the median quite unhappy with a majority will. Possible solutions include restricting democratic procedures to smaller and hopefully more homogenous groups and charging user fees for a public good. We discuss the costs and benefits of these two approaches.

第5周:公共服务经济学
In this lecture we discuss external and internal agency problems, i.e. relations between government (as an agent) and society (the principal) and between rank-and-file bureaucrats (the agents) and their bosses (the principals). We discuss ex ante and ex post accountability system in an external agency. Moving to the internal agency problem, we discuss how to create performance incentives within the bureaucracy including vertical monitoring and career concerns. The final episode of the lecture deals with selected topics of the economics of corruption.

第6周:公民社会与国家的经济角色
In this final lecture of the course we discuss the role of society in public sector economics. We start with the notion of social capital and show its duality: its substitutional and complementary relations to government. Our first illustration of the interplay between government and social capital is philanthropy. Then we demonstrate how dual role of social capital gives rise to the so-called “paradox of social capital”. Then we illustrate the salience of civic culture for good public sector governance by models linking government performance to what citizens expect from their governments. In the next part of the lecture, we show how communities can respond to a lack of government-supplied public goods and services by apolitical self-organization in order to substitute for what they haven’t received from the government. The final episode of the lecture explores the link between social capital and the size of government (public sector).

预备知识

学生需要学过中级微观经济学课程。一些数学知识是必需的,尽管这不算什么要求。同时需要熟悉社会和政治理论。

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