I'm taking a public policy course and the textbooks that were recommended for the course are way out of sync with the course material. These are:

Gruber, Public Finance and Public Policy

Stiglitz, Economics of the Public Sector

Which are all well and good, except they are too basic.

For example, in class we've derived the Samuelson condition using Lagrange multipliers and analyzed how it differs from the equilibrium with voluntary contributions. But there's nothing of the sort on these textbooks.

Our course outline is as follows:

1. State intervention in the economy

a. Efficency

b. Fundamental Welfare Theorems

2. Market failures

a. Absence of competition

b. Externalities

c. Public Goods

d. Information issues

e. Incomplete markets

3. Public Goods and the Public provision of Private Goods

a. Public goods: efficiency conditions

b. Public provision of Private Goods. Rationing systems

4. Externalities

a. Theory of externalities

b. Private and public sector solutions

c. Distinction between the use of prices and quantities in solving externality issues

5. Social Choice

a. Issues with preference aggregation. Arrow’s Theorem

b. Different voting systems. Median voter theorem

c. Social welfare functions: utilitarianism, Rawlsian criteria and intermediate cases

6. Taxes

a. Introduction to taxes

b. Fiscal incidence

c. Inefficiencies derived from imposition and their consequences for optimal taxes

d. Taxes and labor supply, saving and decision making

e. Fiscal reform

I would appreciate immensely any sort of guidance on this front.

  • $\begingroup$ What level is your course? Bachelor? If so, what semester? Or is it a Master's or PhD level course? $\endgroup$
    – BB King
    Oct 5, 2018 at 8:32
  • $\begingroup$ Hi! It's a Bachelor's degree, 5th semester. $\endgroup$ Oct 5, 2018 at 11:30

1 Answer 1


The best book in my opinion for your case is definitely Intermediate Public Economics by Jean Hindriks and Gareth D. Myles. It is often used as a standard text for public finance at your level and covers most of the material you need in an interesting and accessible way.


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