93274 - Public Economics

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Stefano Toso

  • Credits 8

  • SSD SECS-P/03

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme First cycle degree programme (L) in Economics, Markets and Institutions (cod. 8038)

  • Teaching resources on Virtuale


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

No poverty Decent work and economic growth Reduced inequalities

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The aim of this course is to provide the theoretical elements and the basic knowledge for the analysis of the allocative, redistributive and stabilization role of the public sector. The student will learn the main institutional aspects and the methodology to analyze the economic effects of public intervention in the economy, through public expenditure and fiscal revenue.

Course contents

Part I - Theoretical rationales of public intervention.

Public economics and welfare economics. Theory of public goods and mechanisms of political decision. Externalities. Other causes of market failure.

Part II - Theory of taxation

Public revenues. The progressive tax: methods for implementing the progressivity. Progressivity measures and redistributive effects of income taxation. Equity of taxation. The tax design of personal income taxation. The distortionary effects of taxation on agents' choice.

Part III - Personal income taxation and the Italian fiscal system

The personal income tax. The taxation of capital incomes.

Part IV - Tax-benefit models and income redistribution

Introduction to the welfare state expenditure: theoretical rationales and ways of provision. The dilemma of social assistance expenditure: universalism vs selectivity. Tax-benefit schemes (negative income tax, basic income/flat income tax).

Part V - Macroeconomic effects of public budget

Built-in-flexibility and the indicators of fiscal policy. Public debt (the Ricardian equivalence theorem, the issue of debt sustainability).


M. Baldini, L. Rizzo, Flat tax. Parti uguali tra disuguali?, Il Mulino, 2019.

P. Bosi, (a cura di), Corso di Scienza delle finanze, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2019, 8th edition [chapters I, II (only par. 1), III, IV, VI and VIII (only parag. 1 and 4)]. The text is also available on the web site www.pandoracampus.it

P. Bosi, M.C. Guerra, I tributi nell'economia italiana, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2022 [Introduction, chapters I, II, III, IV, VII, X]. The text is also available on the web site www.pandoracampus.it

S. Toso, Reddito di cittadinanza. O reddito minimo?, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2016.

Additional teaching material will be available online during the course.

Teaching methods


Attendance will be regulated according to the University guidelines in compliance with the pandemic (Covid-19) risk containment.

Assessment methods

The exam is aimed to verifiy the following teaching objectives: 1) knowledge of the theoretical tools which have been illustrated during the lectures, 2) capability to apply those tools to the analysis of the real and financial effects of the public sector intervention in the economy.

All students take a written exam. Student may write a short essay, whose evaluation will add to the evaluation of the written exam. Examples of past exam questions will be made available on line.

The maximum possible score is 30 cum laude. The grade is graduated as follows:

<18 failed
18-23 sufficient
24-27 good
28-30 very good
30 e lode excellent

Teaching tools

A video-projector will be used in most of the lectures, for presentations with Power Point files.

Office hours

See the website of Stefano Toso