ECO 323 Public Economics UNC Greensboro Spring 2014

ECO 323
Public Economics
UNC Greensboro
Spring 2014
Contact Information
Chris Swann
467 Bryan
TH 1230-1345 in Bryan 202
Course Overview
This course deals with the justifications for government activities, the design of programs
consistent with these justifications, and the effects of current expenditure programs and
taxes. The first section examines the theoretical justification for having any government
programs at all and the ways that voting may affect the policies that are implemented. The
heart of the course is a discussion of some of the major social programs funded by the
federal government such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, AFDC, and Food Stamps.
Finally, we discuss the tax system used to fund such programs.
While I intend to follow the schedule outlined below, many tax and spending topics are
being debated in Washington, and we may deviate from the schedule from time to time to
address these issues.
Students are expected to be familiar with and abide by the University’s Academic
Integrity policy (see and the University’s Student
Code of Conduct (
Office Hours
Tuesday and Thursday 1400 to 1500 and by appointment. Email is the best way to
contact me to make an appointment.
The assigned readings come from
Gruber, Jonathan, Pubic Finance and Public Policy, 4th edition, Worth, 2013.
Other books will cover similar material. In particular, earlier editions of Gruber’s text
should be most similar. In the past I have also used Rosen, Harvey S. and Ted Gayer,
“Public Finance, 9th edition”, McGraw-Hill, 2010.
Additional readings may also be assigned. They will be made available via blackboard,
from a publicly accessable web site, or as photo copies.
Your grade will be based on 3 homework assignments (25%), 2 midterm exams (25%
each), and a final exam (25%).
Tentative Outline and Readings
Jan 14
Jan 16
Jan 21
Jan 23
Jan 28
Jan 30
Feb 4
Feb 6
Feb 11
Feb 13
Feb 18
Feb 20
Feb 25
Feb 27
Mar 4
Mar 6
Mar 11
Mar 13
Mar 18
Mar 20
Mar 25
Theoretical Tools
Chapter 2.1 and 2.2
Chapter 2.3 and 2.4
Chapter 3.1 and 3.2
Chapter 3.3
Chapter 4.1 – 4.3
Chapter 5.1 to 5.3
Chapter 6.1 and 6.2
Chapter 7
Chapter 12.1-12.3 & 12.5
Mar 27
Apr 1
Apr 3
Apr 8
Apr 10
Apr 15
Apr 17
Apr 22
Apr 24
May 2
Empirical Tools
Budget Analysis
Public Goods
Social Insurance
Material from Jan 14 to Feb 11
Social Security
Unemployment Insurance
Health Economics
Spring Break
Spring Break
Health Care Reform
Income Distribution and Poverty
Cash Welfare
Material from Feb 13 to Mar 25
Welfare Reform (TANF)
Food Stamps
Other/Multiple Programs
Taxation in the US
Hand out HW 1
Collect HW 1
Midterm 1
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16.1 – 16.2
Chapter 16.3-16.4
Chapter 16.6
Chapter 17.1
Hand out HW 2
Collect HW 2
Chapter 17.2 and 17.3
Midterm 2
Chapter 17.4 and 17.5
Chapter 17.2
Hand Out HW 3
Chapter 18.1 to 18.3
Chapter 18.4 to 18.6
Incidence and Optimal Taxation
Chapter 19.1 and 20.2
Fiscal Federalism
Chapter 10
Collect HW 3
Final Exam – Bryan 202, 1530-1830; Covers material from Mar 27 to April 24.