Book Details

  • Ebook
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $65.00
  • February 2015
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-28839-1
  • 960 pages
  • License Term (days): 180
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

Economics of the Public Sector

Fourth Edition

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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