Empirical Public Finance
The principal objective of this course is to explore empirical evidence on the role of government intervention in the economy, focusing on tax and social program policies. The course is designed around lectures providing the foundations for each topic area, followed by reading important recent research, with a particular focus on distributional outcomes. This approach is intended to allow students to learn both the subject matter and techniques necessary to critically analyze existing research in the field and to produce original research in public economics, the latter of which is the major goal of the course.
By the end of the course, students should be able to critically evaluate research on cash and in-kind benefit programs, as well as tax policy, in the US through an economic lens. Additionally, they should have substantial knowledge of the institutional structure of the major social programs in the US and recent economic findings pertaining to these programs, with a particular focus on the effects of these policies on poverty and income inequality. Finally, students should be able to develop a research idea in the broad area of public economics into a viable research proposal.