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ECON308 Public Economics

The role of government in society is examined using the tools and methods of microeconomics. Topics include welfare economics, public goods, externalities, optimal taxation and voting models.

This paper discusses examines the ways government interventions affect the economy. The paper begins with an empirical and theoretical overview of government expenditure programmes in OECD countries. It then develops microeconomic, acroeconomic, and statistical tools to explores several issues including institutional economics and public choice theory; income redistribution within cohorts and between cohorts; social security and retirement income; tax policies, government finance (debt and asset positions); and environmental externalities.

Some of the material will involve the use of basic statistical and econometric techniques that will be taught in class using standard spreadsheet software.

Paper title Public Economics
Paper code ECON308
Subject Economics
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $863.25
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,276.80

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ECON 201 or ECON 271
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Commerce, Science
Teaching staff

Andrew Coleman

Joel Slemrod and John Bakija (2017) Taxing Ourselves, 5th edition.(MIT Press)
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Critical thinking, Ethics, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this paper, you should be able to:

  • Develop an appreciation of the reasons for a public sector in a market-oriented economy;
  • Apply economic analysis to understand the macro- and microeconomic implications of different public sector interventions in the economy; and
  • Understand specific problems arising in certain areas of public-sector activity.

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Tuesday 09:00-09:50 28-34, 36-41
Wednesday 09:00-09:50 28-34, 36-41
Thursday 09:00-09:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Monday 16:00-16:50 29-34, 36-41
A2 Tuesday 12:00-12:50 29-34, 36-41
A3 Tuesday 16:00-16:50 29-34, 36-41