Public Economics

Academic year
Subject Area
Área Científica do Menor
Language of Instruction
Mode of Delivery
ECTS Credits
1st Cycle Studies

Recommended Prerequisites

A good knowledge of microeconomic concepts and analytical tools is desirable. Competence of reading texts in English is also recommended.

Teaching Methods

Lectures make use of the expositive method. In the tutorials (‘practical’ classes) students are strongly invited to become actively involved in the class work, namely by promoting their participation in the resolution of practical questions and problems. The tutorials aim also at contributing to develop conceptual rigour and the application of the acquired knowledge to the formulation and resolution of problems as well as to develop students’ oral skills.

Learning Outcomes

- Identify the key issues of Public Economics and be aware of the plurality of theoretical approaches to the study of public action in the economy
- Discuss the rationale of public action in the economy
- Analyze market failures and public action in this domain
- Analyze the issue of social justice and the role of public policies aiming to promote equity
- Discuss, in a reasoned way, environmental and social policies

- Discuss the process of collective choices and government failures

- Know how the Portuguese State Budget is structured and how it works.
- Understand the importance of the state budget constraint and the issue of public finances sustainability

Developing capacity for analysis and synthesis, oral and written communication, problem solving, development of critical and self-critical sense, ability to work autonomously and in group, and capacity to apply knowledge in practice.

Work Placement(s)



1.       Introduction: The central questions of public economics
2.       The public sector in Portugal

2.1.     Indicators of government intervention in the economy

2.2.     Public expenditure and public revenues

2.3.     The question of the size of the public sector

3.       The rationale for public action in the economy

3.1.     Two different approaches

3.2.     Externalities and social costs

3.3.     Public goods and public provision

3.4.     Social justice and the promotion of equity

4.       Collective choice and government failures

4.1.     The problems of collective choice

4.2.     Majority decisions and efficiency

4.3.     The public choice theory

5.       The budget constraint

5.1.     The state budget

5.2.     The budget constraint and sustainability of public finances


Obs.: A more detailed syllabus may be found in the course’s website (nonio)

Head Lecturer(s)

Vítor Manuel Leite Neves

Assessment Methods

Continuous Assessment
Assessment based on tests, which includes two intermediate tests (50%) and a final one (50%). In this regime presence is mandatory in at least 75% of the tutorial classes. : 100.0%

Final Assessment
Exam: 100.0%


BARBOSA, António Soares Pinto - Economia pública. Lisboa : Editora McGraw-Hill de Portugal, 1998. [BP 336.12 BAR]

CULLIS, John ; JONES, Philip - Public finance and public choice : analytical perspectives. 3rd ed.. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2009. [BP 336.12 CUL]

ECONOMIA e finanças públicas. Paulo Trigo Pereira [et al.].4ª ed., [rev. e actual.]. Lisboa : Escolar Editora, 2012. [BP 336.12 ECO]

PEREIRA, Paulo Trigo – Economia e finanças públicas: da teoria à prática. 4ª ed.. Coimbra :

Edições Almedina, 2013. [Ed. de 2012: BP 336.12 PER]

STIGLITZ, Joseph E. - Economics of the public sector. 3rd ed.. New York : W. W. Norton & Company, 2000. [BP 336.12 STI]

Obs.: Serão ainda fornecidos, para alguns temas específicos, outros textos não incluídos nesta bibliografia geral.