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Public Economics 2017/2018

  • 6 ECTS
  • Taught in Portuguese
  • Continuous Assessment


With this Course, it is expected from students that:
- They will understand in a coherent manner the need for the existence of the State and the different roles that it may have in a contemporary economic system.
- They will understand the existing trade-off between equity and efficiency, which is present in most of the problems in the political and economic organization of the State.
- They will be able to discuss in a fundamented manner the different questions related with the organization of the state and with public expenses: Votings, Assymetric Information and Externalities.
- They will be able to discuss in a fundamental manner the different questions related with the obtention of revenues by the State: Namely, to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of a given tax system.
- They will be able to interpret the actual problems of comtemporary States and the Portuguese State: The growth of public debt and the sustainability of the goods and services provided by the State.

Recommended Prerequisites

Microeconomics, Macroeconomics

Teaching Metodology

Expositive, questioning, and oriented work methodologies: Being a course where students have some basic knowledge and opinions beforehand, the presentation of the contents will allow the permanent questioning of the students about the topics that are being presented, confronting them with the opinions they had on the subjects and inviting them to discuss these issues with the class. At the end of each chapter and through the platform Kahoot, the the students will be questioned regarding the contents and will discuss together their choices of answer.

Body of Work

1. Fundamental Concepts
1.1 The Roles of the Public Sector
1.2. Efficiency, Equity, Democracy and Freedom
1.3. Minimal State, Welfare State and Imperfect State
1.4 Classical Finance, Intervencionist Finance and Constitucionalist Finance
2. Efficiency and Market Failure
2.1 Efficient Allocation of Resources and Social Welfare
2.2 Public Intervention for Efficiency Reasons
2.3 Public Intervention for Social Justice Reasons
2.4 Conflicts between Efficiency and Equity
3. Public Expenses
3.1. The problem of Collective choice
3.2 Colective choice, democracy, and Public Interest
3.3 Assymetric Information
3.4 Externalities
3.5 Inequality and Poverty Measurement
4. Public Revenue
4.1 Desirable characteristics of a tax system: Efficiency and Equity
4.2 Efficiency and Equity when taxing
4.3 The Portuguese tax system.
5. The Sustainability of the (Portuguese) Public Finance

Recommended Bibliography

Economia e Finanças Públicas”, Paulo Trigo Pereira, António Afonso, Manuela Arcanjo, J.C. Gomes Santos, Escolar Editora, 2012 (4th Edition).

Portugal: Dívida Pública e Défice Democrático”, Paulo Trigo Pereira, Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos, 2010.

Complementary Bibliography

Economia Pública: Conceitos e Exercícios Resolvidos”, Aida Tavares, Edições Sílabo, 2014.

Economics of the Public Sector”, Joseph E. Stiglitz, W.W.Norton & Company, 2000.

Economia Pública: Eficiência Económica e Teoria das Escolhas Colectivas”, Abel L. Costa Fernandes, Edições Sílabo, 2008.

Weekly Planning

1. Fundamental Concepts
2. Efficiency and Market Failure
3. Efficiency and Market Failure
4. Efficiency and Market Failure
5. Efficiency and Market Failure
6. Revision of Contents and First Test
7. Public Expenses
8. Public Expenses
9. Public Expenses
10. Public Revenues
11. Public Revenues
12. Public Revenues
13. Revision of contents; Second test of the evaluation
14. The Sustainability of the (Portuguese) Public Finance
15. The Sustainability of the (Portuguese) Public Finance

Demonstration of the syllabus coherence with the curricular unit's objectives

The need for the existence of the State, the different roles it may have on the economic system of a country and the trade-off between efficiency and equity are detailed in the first part of the contents. The student will perfect the answers to this first goal throughout the course. The third chapter of the contents allows students to attain the goal regarding the comprehension of the political phenomena that leads to higher or lower levels of public debt. Similarly, the fourth chapter of the contents details the mechanisms and the problems related with the obtention of public revenues. The last chapter of the contents allows the practical connection of the course not only to the Portuguese case, but also to the discussion of the sustainability of public finance and consequently, of the godds and services that are usually provided by the States.

Demonstration of the teaching methodologies coherence with the curricular unit's objectives

The teaching methodology based on the discussion and the exchange of opinions between students allows, as the contents are presented in an expositive manner, a better comprehension of the contents and, as a result, in the increase of the probability rate of students to attain their goals.

relevant generic skillimproved?assessed?
Achieving practical application of theoretical knowledgeYesYes
Analytical and synthetic skillsYesYes
Balanced decision makingYesYes
Event organization, planning and managementYesYes
Foreign language proficiencyYes 
Information and learning managementYesYes
Problem Analysis and AssessmentYesYes
Research skillsYesYes
Written and verbal communications skillsYesYes
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