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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $132.00
  • February 2015
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-92522-7
  • 960 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

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      Economics of the Public Sector

      Fourth Edition


      See all options and formats starting at

      Joseph E. Stiglitz (Author, Columbia University), Jay K. Rosengard (Author, Harvard University)


      The long awaited revision of a classic text by an expert author team.

      What should be the role of government in society? How should it design its programs? How should tax systems be designed to promote both efficiency and fairness? Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and new co-author Jay Rosengard use their first-hand policy-advising experience to address these key issues of public-sector economics in this modern and accessible Fourth Edition.


      Thoroughly revised and updated to reflect the public finance landscape of today.

      Economics of the Public Sector, Fourth Edition, focuses on the heavily changed, post-global recession world. This new, modern approach includes a discussion on global public goods in Chapter 5, which addresses the difficulty of coping with public health and security threats when they transcend government coping mechanisms, while Chapter 8 examines corporatization and the transition from government enterprise to private enterprise. 

      An easily accessible book that teaches conceptual mastery instead of technical detail.

      Stiglitz and Rosengard write with the student in mind. Not only do they use accessible language, but also the graphs throughout the text are simple and easy to understand. Case studies and references to real-world programs and policies, such as Welfare Programs and the Redistribution of Income in Chapter 15, are found in the body of the text, ensuring that students are introduced to policy applications while they read. 

      The text’s international coverage reflects a global economy

      The authors introduce students to a global perspective by sharing their first-hand experiences working with foreign governments. 

        Part One: Role and Size of the Public Sector

        Chapter 1: Defining Public Sector Responsibilities
        The Economic Role of Government
        Thinking Like a Public Sector Economist
        Disagreements Among Economists
        Review and Practice

        Chapter 2: Measuring Public Sector Size
        Who or What Is the Government?
        Types of Government Activity
        Gauging the Size of the Public Sector
        Government Revenues
        Deficit Financing
        Playing Tricks with the Data on Government Activities
        Review and Practice

        Part Two: Fundamentals of Welfare Economics

        Chapter 3: Market Efficiency
        The Invisible Hand of Competitive Markets
        Welfare Economics and Pareto Efficiency
        Analyzing Economic Efficiency
        Review and Practice

        Chapter 4: Market Failure
        Property Rights and Contract Enforcement
        Market Failures and the Role of Government
        Redistribution and Merit Goods
        Two Perspectives on the Role of Government
        Review and Practice

        Chapter 5: Public Goods and Publicly Provided Private Goods
        Public Goods
        Publicly Provided Private Goods
        Efficiency Conditions for Public Goods
        Efficient Government as a Public Good
        Review and Practice
        Appendix: The Leftover Curve

        Chapter 6: Externalities and the Environment
        The Problem of Externalities
        Private Solutions to Externalities
        Public Sector Solutions to Externalities
        Protecting the Environment: The Role of Government in Practice
        Concluding Comments
        Review and Practice

        Chapter 7: Efficiency and Equity
        Efficiency and Distribution Trade-Offs
        Analyzing Social Choices
        Social Choices in Practice
        Three Approaches to Social Choices
        The Trade-Off between Efficiency and Fairness Revisited
        Review and Practice
        Appendix: Alternative Measures of Inequality

        Part Three: Public Expenditure Theory

        Chapter 8: Public Production of Goods and Services
        Natural Monopoly: Public Production of Private Goods
        Comparison of Efficiency in the Public and Private Sectors
        Sources of Inefficiency in the Public Sector
        A Growing Consensus on Government’s Role in Production
        Review and Practice

        Chapter 9: Public Choice
        Public Mechanisms for Allocating Resources
        Alternatives for Determining Public Goods Expenditures
        Politics and Economics
        Review and Practice
        Appendix: New Preference-Revelation Mechanisms

        Part Four: Public Expenditure in Practice

        Chapter 10: Framework for Analysis of Expenditure Policy
        Need for a Program
        Market Failures
        Alternative Forms of Government Intervention
        The Importance of Particular Design Features
        Private Sector Responses to Government Programs
        Efficiency Consequences
        Distributional Consequences
        Equity–Efficiency Trade-Offs
        Public Policy Objectives
        Political Process
        Review and Practice

        Chapter 11: Evaluating Public Expenditure

        Private Cost–Benefit Analysis
        Social Cost–Benefit Analysis
        Consumer Surplus and the Decision to Undertake a Project
        Measuring Nonmonetized Costs and Benefits
        Shadow Prices and Market Prices
        Discount Rate for Social Cost–Benefit Analysis
        The Evaluation of Risk
        Distributional Considerations
        Cost Effectiveness
        Post-Expenditure Evaluation: Assessing and Improving Government Performance
        Review and Practice

        Chapter 12: Defense, Research, and Technology
        Defense Expenditures
        Increasing the Efficiency of the Defense Department
        Defense Conversion
        Research and Technology
        Review and Practice

        Chapter 13: Health Care
        The Health Care System in the United States
        Rationale for a Role of Government in the Health Care Sector
        Reforming Health Care
        Review and Practice

        Chapter 14: Education
        The Structure of Education in the United States
        Why Is Education Publicly Provided and Publicly Financed?
        Issues and Controversies in Educational Policy
        Aid to Higher Education
        Review and Practice
        Appendix: How Should Public Educational Funds Be Allocated?

        Chapter 15: Welfare Programs and the Redistribution of Income

        A Brief Description of Major U.S. Welfare Programs
        Rationale for Government Welfare Programs
        Analytic Issues
        Welfare Reform: Integration of Programs
        The Welfare Reform Bill of 1996
        Concluding Comments
        Review and Practice

        Chapter 16: Social Insurance
        The Social Security System
        Social Security, Private Insurance, and Market Failures
        Is There a Need to Reform Social Security?
        Reforming Social Security
        Review and Practice

        Part Five: Taxation in Theory

        Chapter 17: Introduction to Taxation
        The Five Desirable Characteristics of Any Tax System
        General Framework for Choosing Among Tax Systems
        Review and Practice

        Chapter 18: Tax Incidence

        Tax Incidence in Competitive Markets
        Tax Incidence in Environments without Perfect Competition
        Equivalent Taxes
        Other Factors Affecting Tax Incidence
        Incidence of Taxes in the United States
        Review and Practice
        Appendix: Comparison of the Effects of an Ad Valorem and Specific Commodity Tax on a Monopolist

        Chapter 19: Taxation and Economic Efficiency
        Effect of Taxes Borne by Consumers
        Quantifying the Distortions
        Effect of Taxes Borne by Producers
        Taxation of Savings
        Taxation of Labor Income
        Measuring the Effects of Taxes on Labor Supplied
        Review and Practice
        Appendix: Measuring the Welfare Cost of User Fees

        Chapter 20: Optimal Taxation
        Two Fallacies of Optimal Taxation
        Optimal and Pareto Efficient Taxation
        Differential Taxation
        Taxes on Producers
        Review and Practice
        Appendix A: Deriving Ramsey Taxes on Commodities
        Appendix B: Derivation of Ramsey Formula for Linear Demand Schedule

        Chapter 21: Taxation of Capital
        Should Capital Be Taxed?
        Effects on Savings and Investment
        Impact on Risk Taking
        Measuring Changes in Asset Values
        Review and Practice

        Part Six: Taxation in Practice

        Chapter 22: The Personal Income Tax
        Outline of the U.S. Income Tax
        Principles Behind the U.S. Income Tax
        Practical Problems in Implementing an Income Tax System
        Special Treatment of Capital Income
        Concluding Comments
        Review and Practice

        Chapter 23: The Corporation Income Tax
        The Basic Features of the Corporation Income Tax
        The Incidence of the Corporation Income Tax and Its Effect on Efficiency
        Combined Effects of Individual and Corporate Income Tax
        The Corporation Tax as Economic Policy
        Taxation of Multinationals
        Should There Be a Corporation Income Tax?
        Review and Practice

        Chapter 24: A Student’s Guide to Tax Avoidance
        Principles of Tax Avoidance
        Tax Shelters
        Tax Reform and Tax Avoidance
        Equity, Efficiency, and Tax Reform
        Review and Practice

        Chapter 25: Reform of the Tax System
        Simplifying the Tax Code
        Transition Issues and the Politics of Tax Reform
        Tax Reforms for the Twenty-First Century
        Review and Practice

        Part Seven: Further Issues

        Chapter 26: Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations
        The Division of Responsibilities
        Principles of Fiscal Federalism
        Production versus Finance
        Review and Practice

        Chapter 27: Subnational Taxes and Expenditures
        Tax Incidence Applied to Local Public Finance
        Public Choice at the Local Level
        Problems of Multijurisdictional Taxation
        Review and Practice

        Chapter 28: Fiscal Deficits and Government Debt
        The U.S. Deficit Problem Since the 1980s
        Consequences of Government Deficits
        Improving the Budgetary Process
        The Long-Term Problem: Entitlements and the Aged
        Review and Practice