Class Information

Economics 336: Public Economics II (Public Choice)

2006 Edition (second semester)

rss feed

Times and places

Class meets Mondays. 16h00-18h00, Commerce 013

Crampton's office hours: Wednesdays, 10h00-12h00

Tutorial Sessions. Thursday and Friday, 14h00-15h00, Room C540.

Update 12 July 2006

Tutorials begin in Econ 336 in week 2. I've had a couple folks ask, and I'm worried that I told one of you that they start this week. They start this week in Econ 224, next week in Econ 336. That is all.

Update 6 July 2006

I had, below, recommended SharpReader for following the course's RSS feed. Of course, that isn't going to work if you're accessing from a machine in one of the computer labs. Rojo seems to be a pretty decent web-based RSS aggregator. It's free. So, no excuses for not catching updates now.

Update 5 July 2006

The course reader is now available for purchase from the usual location. Note that the reader only contains a subset of the readings available on the CD-ROM which will be distributed in the first week of classes.

Update 26 June 2006

Last year's students asked that a primer on how the US Government works be provided. An awful lot of public choice theory analyses the workings of US government. Understanding how it works is pretty important. So, if you don't know about the separation of powers in the US government or the structure of the federal system, check out this primer. Or, pick your favourite US civics text.

Update 10 May 2006

The syllabus is now available with reading list soon to follow.

Update 9 May 2006

I think I've figured out building an RSS feed into this puppy. Caveat emptor; am still testing. Try the RSS link near the top of the page!

Update 9 May 2006

This course begins second semester. Please feel free to peruse this site, as well as the ones from last year and the year before (linked to from the main teaching page) to get a flavour of what Public Choice is like.

General class information follows below; updates will be inserted above this as the class progresses. If I can figure out how to run an RSS feed on the updates, I'll do so. No promises though: I code in Notepad in the HTML I learned in 1995.

Course synopsis

Public Choice applies economic theory and methodology to the study of nonmarket decision-making (typically political decision-making). As economists, we look not to the benevolence of the butcher for our meat but rather to his self-interest. What happens when we realize that politicians and voters are no different? Simply put, we achieve a much better understanding of real-world policy, economic and otherwise. The course provides an overview of positive and normative public choice theory, highlighting work in the economic theory of constitutions, voting rules, bureaucracy, democracy, collective action, dictatorship, the theory of clubs, expressive voting, political business cycles, lobbying, legislative structures, political competition, as well as criticisms of public choice theory. A familiarity with algebra is assumed on the part of students, as is a strong background in microeconomic theory; I will attempt to keep the calculus to lim x --> e (very little).


Evaluation will consist of:

The syllabus is now available.

I will put up a copy of the this year's reading list in the near future; in the interim, please consult last year's version on last year's course website.

Readings and texts

Courseweb lists recommended texts for the course. Those texts are wonderful background reading, but are not required. I will hand out a CD-ROM with all of the required reading at the start of lectures; a reader will also be available that reproduces most of the readings contained on the CD-ROM.

Course style

This course is taught very much in the arts tradition within economics. What does that mean?

So, the course will be a lot of work, especially if you're not accustomed to lots of reading and writing. But, I think it's worth it. So did the students who took it last year, at least according to the course evaluations. Last year's course evaluations ranked Econ 336 as having the highest workload of any undergrad course in the Faculty of Commerce; it also ranked it highest on "Overall, this is a good quality course." Faculty means, minima and maxima are available here. Checking through the Survey and Testing Unit's course evaluation scores isn't a bad idea when making course selections! I've pasted in the bits relevant to Econ 336 below; mean, 90th percentile and maximum scores are all with reference to other courses offered in the Faculty of Commerce.

This was a well organised course This course helped to stimulate my interest in the course area The overall workload in this course was reasonable (1 too low, 5 too high) The level of difficulty of this course was reasonable (1 too low, 5 too high) The course developed my ability to engage in research-related activities The assessment in this course encouraged learning for understanding Overall, this was a good quality course
90th Percentile4.
Econ 3364.

I'm looking forward to meeting you in a few weeks; last year's Econ 336 was great fun and I hope that this year's will be as well. Get ready to do lots of reading and debating of the topics...see you soon!

Please feel free to contact me via email if you have any questions about the class or if you're wondering about taking it. Also check out the page I maintained for last year's Econ 336 class as that gives a decent feel for what the class is like. Hope to see you in the fall!


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