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Public Sector Economics


Admission requirements



Public Sector Economics, also known as Theory of Public Finance, focuses on the impact of public finances on the economy (and vice versa). This involves the provision of goods and services (including infrastructure, education, a cleaner environment), macroeconomic development (unemployment, inflation) and income redistribution (including social security, taxation).
The Ba1-course Principles of Economics emphasized on markets as organizing institutions where price mechanism plays a vital role. However, markets fail, leaving grounds for government intervention. In many OECD countries the public sector budget is over half of gross domestic product. So there is reason to pay attention to the field of public sector economics / public finance.
The Ba2-course Public Sector Economics focuses on economic analyses of government interventions and the interaction between government and markets. The course builds primarily upon microeconomic theory. Besides efficiency considerations also equity is used in the application of economic knowledge. The objective for the students is to provide them the perspective of welfare theory.
After a brief introduction of the main theoretical aspects of markets and modern welfare theory, the course addresses market failure (such as public goods, externalities and information problems) and related public solutions and government instruments. After considering public choice and ‘government failure’ the course elaborates on financing of the public sector (tax theory and practice). This course also analyzes from a macroeconomic perspective: theory and practice of Dutch fiscal policy.

Course objectives

This course presents the principles of public sector economics and shows the implications thereof for public economic policy. By the end of this course:

  • Students will have acquired knowledge of the principles of public sector economics.

  • Students will be able to understand the vast theories of public sector economics.

  • Students will be able to independently study and analyse main questions in the field of public sector economics.



Mode of instruction

Seven weeks course in the period September -October. Each week consists of two lectures and one Q&A-seminar (6 hrs).

  • During the lectures (14 × 2 hrs), the main issues in the required reading will be identified and discussed. The focus will be on understanding the concepts and theories in public sector economics.

  • In the weekly Q&A-seminars (6 × 2 hrs), students will apply their knowledge. Each week, the homework consists of preparing multiple choice questions and study problems. In class, students will discuss their solutions for the problems. Applying the concepts and theories, and explaining this to each other increases the knowledge and understanding of public sector economics. Furthermore, it also provides a good preparation for the mid-term exam and the final exam.

  • Exam training (1 x one hrs). In the last week of the course a test exam will be discussed. The test exam will be posted on Blackboard.

Other methods of instruction
We link this course directly to a website to indicate that additional content on a subject can be found online, as web-based questions and learning objectives.

Course Load

Total study load: 140 hrs – contact hours: 28 hrs – Q&A: 12 hrs – self study: 100 hrs

Assessment method

  1. Mid-term exam (reading list first 3 weeks of the course), Multiple Choice Questions: 30%
    1. Final exam (full reading list), three parts: Multiple Choice, Graphs & Problems and Essay-questions: 70%

Students need to earn a grade of 5,5 or higher for each (midterm) exam to successfully finish the course. Partial grades cannot be compensated.
Retakes: both for mid-term exam and final exam.

You can find more information about assessments and the timetable exams on the website.
Details for submitting papers (deadlines) are posted on Blackboard.
On the Public Administration front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website, uSis and Blackboard.

Students will be permitted to resit an examination if they have taken the first sit and earned a mark between 3 and 5.5 or with permission of the Board of Examiners.

Resit written exam
Students that want to take part in a resit for a written exam, are required to register via uSis. Use the activity number that can be found on the ‘timetable exams’.


Yes, the Blackboard site will become available a month prior to the start of the course.

Reading list

  • Textbook: Harvey Rosen & Ted Gayer, Public Finance (international edition), McGraw-Hill, most recent edition.

  • Additional reading material will be posted on Blackboard.

  • Course material (slides) will be posted in advance on Blackboard.


Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course.
Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.
Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted here.


Prof. dr. C.L.J. Caminada en drs. A.P. Ros via

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