Seminar: Public Economics

Course content

The seminar invites students to analyze theoretical and empirical issues within public economics. Possible topics include:
- Labor supply and taxation
- Optimal income taxation
- Universal basic income
- Inequality and the tax system
- Public good provision and marginal cost of public funds
- Optimal commodity taxation
- Individuals’ understanding of and preferences for public interventions.
- Taxation of multinational firms
- Taxation and regulation of the financial sector
- Tax havens
- Tax evasion
- Green taxes
- Taxation of sin goods (tobacco, alcohol etc.)
- Optimal social insurance (unemployment, disability, etc.)
- Retirement and taxes / public transfers
- Tax competition
- Border trading
- Taxation and international migration
- Tagging

Students are encouraged to write papers in pairs. Examples of what papers may do include:
- A thorough review of related articles on a specific topic
- An independent extension of an existing theoretical model
- Simulations of a theoretical model with the aim of, e.g., testing estimation strategies or policy recommedations.
- A replication and extension of the empirical analysis of a published article using the article’s dataset
- An independent empirical analysis using, e.g., data available through one’s work or publicly available data
- A policy paper on a relevant topic of economic policy


MSc programme in Economics

The seminar is primarily for students at the MSc of Economics

Learning outcome

After completing the seminar the student is expected to be able to fulfill the learning outcome specified in the Curriculum:

After completing the seminar, the student is expected to be able to:
• Define and discuss the differences between a research question and strategy.
• Define and discuss the structure of a good (seminar) paper.
• Identity relevant literature.

After completing the seminar, the student is expected to be able to:
• Use existing knowlegde to analyze new theoretical or empirical problems.
• Evaluate the feasibilty of a research strategy.
• Present a research project to peers.

After completing the seminar, the student is expected to be able to:
• Independently plan and execute a research project.


At the seminar the student is trained independently to
- identify and clarify a problem,
- seek and select relevant literatur,
- write a academic paper,
- present and discuss own paper with the other students at the seminar.

Mandatory activities in the seminar:
- Kick-off meeting
- Finding literatur and defining the project
- Writing process of the seminar paper
- Presentation of own project and paper
- Giving constructive feedback to another student´s paper
- Actively participating in discussions at the presentations and other meetings.

The aim of the presentations is, that you use the presentation as an opportunity to practice oral skills and to receive feedback at the paper. The presentations are not a part of the exam and will not be assessed.

The seminar project paper must be uploaded in Absalon before the presentations, as the opponents and the other seminar participants have to read and comment on the paper. It is important that you upload a paper that is so finalized as possible due to the fact that the value of feedback and comments at the presentation is strongly associated with the skill level of the seminar paper.
The teacher defines what materials may be used for the presentations.

After the presentations, you can with a few corrections improve the seminar paper by including the feedback and comments emerged during the presentations. It is NOT intended that you rewrite or begin the writing of the seminar paper after the presentation has taken place.

In case of a pandemic like Corona the teaching in this seminar may be changed to be taught either fully or partly online. For further information, see the course room on Absalon.

For relevant literature, please refer to the syllabuses of the courses Public Finance and Tax Policy as well as top journals (American Economic Review, Quarterly Journal of Economics etc.), top field journals (American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, Journal of Public Economics) and the journals Journal of Economic Perspectives and Journal of Economic Literature.

The student will benefit from attending the courses Public Finance and/or Tax Policy before taking the seminar.

BSc in Economics or similar


Spring 2021:
• Kick-Off meeting: 1 hour in week 6
• Extra meetings/Introductory classes/guidings: 3 hours at the beginning of March (depends on the number of students)
• Deadline for submitting commitmentpaper/ project description: Not later than March 1st or as specified by the lecturer.
• Deadline of seminar paper uploaded to Absalon: Not later than one week before the presentations or as specified by the lecturer.
• The presentation-meetings: Approx. 1-3 full or Half days. 2 full days in mid-May (depends on the number of students). Exact dates are made in agreement at the Kick-Off meeting.

General information:
It is strongly recommended that you think about and search for a topic before the semester begins, as there is only a few weeks from the kick-off meeting to the submission of the project description/agreement paper.

There is no weekly teaching/lecturing and the student cannot expect guidance from the teacher. If the teacher gives a few introduction lectures or gives the opportunity for guidance, this as well as other expectations are clarified at the kickoff meeting.

All information regarding the seminar is communicated through Absalon including venue. So it is very important that you by yourself logon to Absalon and read the information already when you are registered at the seminar.

Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
A seminar paper in English that meets the formal requirements for written papers stated in the curriculum and at KUNet for seminars.
All aids allowed

for the seminar paper.

The teacher defines the aids that must be used for the presentations.


Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Students are assessed on the extent to which they master the learning outcome for the seminar and can make use of the knowledge, skills and competencies listed in the learning outcomes in the Curriculum of the Master programme.


To receive the top grade, the student must with no or only a few minor weaknesses be able to demonstrate an excellent performance displaying a high level of command of all aspects of the relevant material.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Project work
  • 186
  • Seminar
  • 20
  • English
  • 206