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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.

The role of government in society is examined in the framework of the standard neoclassical economic model and through the lens of behavioural economics. One topic is competition policy, which covers government policy in relation to mergers and other potentially anti-competitive behaviour. Another topic is the regulation of natural monopolies, including the electricity and telecommunications industries. Further, topics on social regulation such as health, safety and environmental regulation will also be covered.

This paper examines the ways governments could intervene to address market failures. You will learn about key policy issues through the language of neoclassical economic theory, behavioural economics, vivid real-world examples and research processes that generate major empirical findings. Topics will vary according to student interest, but will include government policies to promote competition, the regulation of natural monopolies  and social regulation. Students will be introduced to the kind of real-world issues about government policy that are dealt with by economic consultancy firms and government agencies.

Paper title Public Economics
Paper code ECON308
Subject Economics
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $912.00
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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

Teaching staff

Daniel Neururer


The lecturers will provide all the course material.

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:

  • Explain core economic principles relevant to understanding the scope and structure of government interventions in a market-oriented economy
  • Use these principles to identify core problems that may benefit from government intervention, and core problems government interventions may need to overcome to solve these problems
  • Use these principles to identify the trade-offs involved with specific public sector interventions in the economy
  • Use these principles, along with appropriate data sources and literature, to formulate positive critiques of popular policy positions

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 09:00-09:50 9-14, 16-22
Wednesday 16:00-16:50 9-14, 16-22
Friday 13:00-13:50 9-13, 16-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Friday 09:00-09:50 10-13, 16-22
A2 Thursday 09:00-09:50 10-14, 16-22