Public Finance, 2nd Edition

A Normative Theory

Public Finance, 2nd Edition,Richard Tresch,ISBN9780126990515


Academic Press

9780126990515 New edition

9780080515410 New edition


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Key Features

* Second edition provides new and updated information
* Focuses on the heart of public sector economics, including public expenditure theory and policy, tax theory and policy, cost benefit-analysis, and fiscal federalism
* Features a cohesive and versatile general equilibrium framework


Featuring a general equilibrium framework that is both cohesive and versatile, the Second Edition of Public Finance: A Normative Theory brings new and updated information to this classic text. Through its concentration on the microeconomic theory of the public sector in the context of capitalist market economics it addresses the subjects traditionally at the heart of public sector economics, including public good theory, theory of taxation, welfare analysis, externalities, tax incidence, cost benefit analysis, and fiscal federalism. Its goal of providing a foundation, rather than attempting to present the most recent scholarship in detail, makes this Second Edition both a valuable text and a resource for professionals.


Advanced undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in courses in public finance and public economics.

Richard Tresch

Professor Richard W. Tresch earned a bachelor's degree from Williams College in 1965 and a doctorate in economics in 1973 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a teaching assistant prior to his arrival at Boston College. He joined the Boston College faculty in 1969 and throughout his 43-year career has served as Chairman of the Department of Economics, Director of Graduate Studies, and Director of Undergraduate Studies. In 1996, chosen as Massachusetts Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He was one of 585 national entrants in the foundation's US Professors of the Year Program, which salutes outstanding undergraduate instructors; its award is recognized as one of the most prestigious honors bestowed upon professors. "I am quite humbled by the award, and extremely grateful to the Carnegie Foundation," Tresch said. "The greatest honor, however, is to have been nominated by Boston College. There are so many good teachers here and to be chosen to represent them in the program is something I truly value." A member of the American Economic Association, Tresch served on the board of editors for the American Economic Review, and has contributed to New England Journal of Business and Economics and Public Finance. He is the editor of a four-volume major reference work on public sector economics. The third edition on his textbook, Public Finance: A Normative Theory publishes in November, 2014.

Affiliations and Expertise

Boston College, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Public Finance, 2nd Edition

Part I: Introduction: The Content and Methodology of Public Sector Theory
Introduction to Normative Public Sector Theory
A General Equilibrium Model for Public Sector Analysis
First-Best and Second-Best Analysis and the Political Economy of Public Sector Economics
Part II: The Theory of Public Expenditures and Taxation: First-Best Analysis
The Social Welfare Function in Policy Analysis
The Problem of Externalities: An Overview
Consumption Externalities
Production Externalities
The US Anti-Pollution Policies: An Application of Externality Theory
The Theory of Decreasing Cost Production
The First-Best Theory of Taxation
Applying First-Best Principles of Taxation: What to Tax and How
Part III: The Theory of Public Expenditures and Taxation: Second-Best Analysis
Introduction to Second-Best Analysis
The Second-Best Theory of Taxation in One-Consumer Economies with Linear Production Technology
The Second-Best Theory of Taxation with General Production Technologies and Many Consumers
Taxation under Asymmetric Information
The Theory and Measurement of Tax Incidence
Expenditure Incidence and Economy-Wide Incidence Studies
The Second-Best Theory of Public Expenditures--Overview
Transfer Payments and Private Information
Externalities in a Second-Best Environment
Decreasing Costs and the Theory of the Second Best--the Boiteux Problem
General Production Rules in a Second-Best Environment
Part IV: Cost-Benefit Analysis
Introduction--the Issues of Cost-Benefit Analysis
The Rate of Discount for Public Investments
Uncertainty and the Arrow-Lind Problem
Measurement Problems in Cost-Benefit Analysis
Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Distribution of Income
Common Pitfalls in Cost-Benefit Analysis
Part V: Fiscal Federalism
Optimal Federalism--Sorting the Functions of Government within the Fiscal Hierarchy
Optimal Federalism--The Sorting of People within the Fiscal Hierarchy
The Role of Grants-in-Aid in a Federalist System of Government

Quotes and reviews

"This volume offers a detailed introduction to theoretical work on many of the core issues in contemporary public economics. Careful and comprehensive, it will provide readers with an ideal springboard to further research."
-James M. Poterba, Mitsui Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"This clear and comprehensive text will be a valuable resource for both students and faculty."
--Peter Diamond, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"This is the book teachers of public finance have been waiting for. It is outstanding in the breadth of its coverage, in the quality of exposition, and in the balance between theory and policy. It is especially good at melding newer approaches to the normative study of the public sector with traditional ones."
--Robin Boadway, Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada
"I have hoped for years that Richard Tresch would revise his Public Finance text. This volume is well worth the wait. It is comprehensive, up-to-date, and very clearly written. It is a natural reading for a graduate course in public finance. It will also serve as a fine reference for specialists in the field."
--Harvey Rosen, Department of Economics, Princeton University
"The second edition of Public Finance: A Normative Theory contains the unified and systematic treatment of the field that for many years made the first edition a favorite among graduate students. The revisions only improve the text, including a new chapter on taxation under asymmetric information. Any student or professor with an interest in the normative side of public economics will want to own this book.
--John D. Wilson, Michigan State University
"The arrival of the Second Edition of Dick Tresch's Public Finance is simply the best of news for students of public finance. The first edition never left my reading list because it taught more about how to do policy analysis than any other book; it was chock-full of tips and techniques. The second edition is even stronger--I am particularly fond of the new chapter about using the social welfare function in policy analysis. Students benefit not only from a cohesive introduction to normative policy analysis, and a tutorial in developing modeling skills for their applications, but also from the enhanced bibliography."
--Douglas J. Holtz-Eakin, Syracuse University

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