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Course Details

Course Details

Course Code: MAPP504 Course ID: 4679 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Graduate

This course critically assesses the role the government plays in the economy and how this affects federal, state and local public policy making and vice versa. We first deconstruct and critique basic economic concepts like public goods and externalities and cover the central theoretical principles that apply to public economics. We then use these to evaluate the federal budget, taxation and income redistribution with a special focus on social security, education, health care and defense policy. Students will develop a critical sense of their own economic policy positions and apply these to their area of concentration.

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
01/25/21 - 07/02/21 07/05/21 - 08/29/21 Summer 2021 Session B 8 Week session
04/26/21 - 10/01/21 10/04/21 - 11/28/21 Fall 2021 Session B 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

Upon successful completion of the course students will be able to meet the following learning objectives:

  1. Evaluate and, in some cases, modify several central economic concepts as they apply to problems and debates in political economy and public policy
  2. Examine the complex role of the state in the national economy and the economic pros and cons of to little or too much state intervention
  3. Apply economic theory in a contemporary political context
  4. Differentiate concepts of supply and demand as they apply to government policies
  5. Analyze alternative tax structures in terms of the principles of efficiency and equity
  6. Assess the federal budget and at least one state budget using the economic concepts and principles learned in the course
  7. Develop recommendations to current fiscal and other economic and sociopolitical problems as they pertain to the public sector based on research and analysis
  8. Construct a well-thought out personal economic philosophy.

Self Introduction: The first forum includes a self-introduction, which should include your name, where you are located (country, state, or city), what your current job title is, where you received your undergraduate degree and in what field, any information you care to share about your family and hobbies, what you hope to get out of the course and your current level of economics knowledge.

This introduction needs to be at least 250 words and posted by midnight SUNDAY during the first week of the class. Do not attach your posting to the forum, type it into the comments box. Failure to complete this forum by the end of the first week of class will result in you being dropped from the course.

Forum Questions: For our forum discussions we will be analyzing concepts raised in the text, related readings, or current events. Postings should be free of any spelling or grammar errors. Specific instructions can be found in the first substantive forum and apply to all other substantive forums.

Questions and topics posed in the Forums are designed to promote thought and insight. Students must provide a critical review of the questions, topics and issues posed and substantively reply to the contributions of at least three peers. Individual postings should include a full discussion of the content of the question posed and explain how it relates to the concepts in the weekly text readings and other resources. The postings should be analytic in nature and include comparisons/contrasts, and examples that can bolster your point. The Forum is for your benefit and it is important to respond to the discussion topic and to engage others in a running dialogue.

Your initial post should be made by Thursday each week. You should then respond to 3 or more posts. Note that at least one response to your classmates must be made before Sunday. If you make all of your responsive posts on Sunday, you will not earn full points for timeliness.

This can be accomplished by

· Validating with additional evidence from the literature.

· Posing a thoughtful question with commentary which generates further discussion.

· Providing an alternative point-of-view, with evidence and examples.

· Offering additional insight into how the concept might be understood, with evidence provided with real world examples.

You should be active in the classroom throughout the week and actively engaged in the back-and-forth discussion between your colleagues and the professor.

The forum grading rubric can be found in gradebook by clicking on the forum entry.

There are three written assignments and one final research component in this class.

Written Assignments: These assignments are opportunities to explore certain topics and events in more detail. General questions are provided for you. You should connect the reading to current events, use multiple scholarly sources, and cite them using APA formatting. See the Assignment section for details on each submission.

Final Paper: Your final paper is the culmination of this course. Devise your personal economic philosophy drawing from the topics and areas we have covered during the course (see the Assignment section for details). Topics are due during week 6 if you want feedback and guidance from your professor. You may send them in the message area.

The criteria for evaluating the writing assignments are based on the Graduate Assignment Rubric, which can be found iRubric icon on the assignment.

NameGrade %
Forums 30.00 %
Forum 1.1 0.37 %
Forum 1.2 3.70 %
Forum 2 3.70 %
Forum 3 3.70 %
Forum 4 3.70 %
Forum 5 3.70 %
Forum 6 3.70 %
Forum 7 3.70 %
Forum 8 3.70 %
Economic Analysis 45.00 %
Issue Analysis 1 (wk 2) 15.00 %
Issue Analysis 2 (wk 4) 15.00 %
Issue Analysis 3 (wk 6) 15.00 %
Final Project 25.00 %
Final Project (wk 8) 25.00 %

MAPP 504: Weekly Required Reading

Week 1: The Public Sector

Required Reading/Viewing:

Hopcroft, D. (2012) Economics Public Sector 1. (watch as part of lesson)

Conservation Strategy Fund. (2014) “Public vs. Private Goods.” (watch as part of lesson)

Amir-ud-Din, Rafi, Zaman, A. (2015) “Failures of the Invisible Hand.” Forum for Social Economics 45(1), 45-60.

Free to Choose Network. (2016) “Morality and Markets - Self-Interest/Invisible Hand/Supply & Demand.”

Hirschman, D., & Berman, E. P. (2014) “Do Economists Make Policies? On the Political Effects of Economics.” Socio-Economic Review 12(4), 779- 811.

Dzigbede, Komla D. (2016) “Whither Are We Bound? New Insights on American Economic Policymaking.” Policy Studies Journal 44(S1), S14-S27.

Dollery, B. (2011) New Institutional Economics and the Analysis of the Public Sector. Review of Policy Research 18(1), 185-211.

Lipchik, J. (2014) “Public goods, Externalities and Market Failures.”

Zycher, B. (2008) “Defense.” Concise Encyclopedia of Economics.

Week 2: The Role of the State and Economic Efficiency

Required Reading/Viewing:

Investopedia. (n.d.) “Economic Efficiency.” efficiency.asp

Welker, J. (2011) “Efficiency and Equilibrium in Competitive Markets.” The Economics Classroom. (watch as part of lesson)

Altman, M. (2013) “What Behavioral Economics has to Say about Financial Literacy.” Applied Finance Letters 2(1), 12-17.

Berg, A., & Ostry, J. (2011) “Equality and Efficiency: Is There a Trade-off between the Two or Do They go Hand in Hand? Finance and Development. September.

Bouchey, H. (2105) “Today’s Big U.S. Economic Trade-off isn’t Equality or Efficiency.” Washington Center for Equitable Growth. May 15.

Elinder, M., Jordahl H., & Poutvaara, P. (2008) “Selfish and Prospective: Theory and Evidence of Pocketbook Voting.” Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). Discussion Paper No. 3763.

Ferreira, F., & Peragine, V. (2105) “Equality of Opportunity: Theory and Evidence.” ECINE: Society for the Study of Economic Inequality. Working Paper 359 (March).

Lee, S., & Lebowitz, S. (2015) “20 Cognitive Biases that Screw Up your Decisions.” Business Insider.

Heyne, P. (2008) “Efficiency.” Concise Encyclopedia of Economics.

Manzoor, A. (2014) “A Look at Efficiency in Public Administration: Past and Future.” SageOpen. December 21.

Rimer, S. (2016) “Power Brokers Care More about Efficiency Than Equality.” Bostonia (Fall).

Silver, N. (2013) “What Is Driving Growth in Government Spending?” New York Times. January 16.

Thoma, M. (2010) “What is the Role of the State?” Economist’s View. September 8.

Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1981) “The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choice.” Science 211 (4481): 453-458.

Week 3: Democracy

Required Reading/Viewing:

Self, K. (2014) “Federalism Lesson 5: Fiscal Federalism.” (watch as part of lesson)

Terry, R. (2015) “Fiscal Federalism.” (watch as part of lesson) (n.d.) “Public Choice and Constitutional Political Economy.” In-depth Tutorials and Information.

Terman, J., Kassekert, A., Feiock, R., & Yang, K. (2016) “Walking in the Shadow of Pressman and Wildavsky: Expanding Fiscal Federalism and Goal Congruence Theories to Single-Shot Games.” Review of Policy Research 33(2), 124-139.

Eezelaya’s Channel. (2009) “The Median Voter.”

Cohen, T. (2010) “Why Politics is Stuck in the Middle.” New York Times. February 6.

Copeland, Hasell & Bimber, (2016). “Collective Action Frames, Advocacy Organizations and Protests over Same-Sex Marriage.” International Journal of Communication 10, 3785-3807.

Dalen, J., Waterbrook,K, & Alpert, J. (2015) “Why do so many Americans oppose the Affordable Care Act?” American Journal of Medicine 128(8), 807-10. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.01.032

De Waal, A. (2016) “Introduction to the Political Marketplace for Policymakers.” World Peace Foundation. Justice and Security Research Program. March.

Feiock, R.C. (2006) “A Political Market Explanation for Policy Change.”

Hansen, E., & Gray, V. (2016) “Interest Group Density and Policy Change in the States.” Paper Prepared for the Southern Political Science Association Conference. Puerto Rico, January 7-9.

KofaEconomics. (2014) “The Median Voter Theorem.”

Odugbemi, S. (2009) “The Collective Action Problem: The Case of America's Uninsured.”

Sethi, R. (2010) “Reciprocity and Collective Action.” In S. N. Durlaf & L. E. Blume, Behavioral and Experimental Economics, pp, 243-246. (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave MacMillan). DOI: 10.1057/9780230280786_30

Turin, D. (2014) “Environmental Problems and American Politics: Why is Protecting the Environment so Difficult?” Inquiries Journal: Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities, 6(11), 1-3.

Week 4: Taxation: The Federal Budget

Required Reading/Viewing:

Hofmann, E., Hoelz, E., & Kirchler, E. (2015) “Preconditions of Voluntary Tax Compliance: Knowledge and Evaluation of Taxation, Norms, Fairness, and Motivation to Cooperate.” Journal of Psychology 216, 209-217.

CSPAN. (2013) “Federal Income Tax.” (watch as part of lesson)

Meyers, R.T. (2014) “The Implosion of the Federal Budget Process: Triggers, Commissions, Cliffs, Sequesters, Debt Ceilings, and Shutdown.” Public Budgeting and Finance 34(4), 1-23.

Fisher, L. (2012) “Presidential Budgetary Duties.” Presidential Studies Quarterly 42(4), 752-790.

Supplementary Reading:

Dhillon, K. (2015) “Republicans or Democrats: Which Party is Better at Balancing the Budget?” InsideGov.

Investopedia. (2016) “The National Debt Explained.” November 21.

_____. (n.d: a) “Fiscal Policy.”

_____. (n.d: b) “Deadweight Loss of Taxation and Welfare Loss of Taxation.”

ITEP. (2012) “Tax Fairness Fundamentals.” Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Kahn, C. (2015) “State with no income tax: Better or worse?” Bankrate. January 13.

National Priorities Project. (n.d: a) “Federal Budget Glossary.”

_____. (n.d: b) “U.S. Budget Process.”

_____. (n.d: c) “Federal Revenue.”

_____. (n.d: d) “Borrowing and Federal Debt.”

Palmer, J.L., & Penner, R.J. (2012) “The Hard Road to Fiscal Responsibility.” Public Budgeting and Finance 32(3), 4-31.

Radcliffe, B. (2016) “Can Keynesian Economics Reduce ‘Boom-Bust’ Cycles.” Investopedia.

Ross, S. (2015) “How does fiscal policy impact the national budget deficit?” Investopedia.

Smith, L. (2014) “Successful Ways That Governments Reduce Federal Debt.” Investopedia. September 21.

Spaulding, R. (2016) “Taxation: Efficiency and Equity.”

Taylor, A. (2002) “The Ideological Roots of Deficit Reduction Policy.” Review of Policy Research 19(4), 11-29.

White, J. (2009) “What Not to Ask of Budgeting Processes: Lessons from George W. Bush’s Years.” Public Administration Review 69(2), 224-232.

Week 5: Taxation: State and Local Taxation

Required Reading/Viewing:

CSPAN. (2015) “State and Local Tax Systems.”

ITEP. (2011) The ITEP Guide to Fair State and Local Taxes. ITEP.

Supplementary Reading:

Congressional Budget Office (CBO). (2013) “Federal Grants to State and Local Governments.”

Davis. (2016) “Amazon sales tax evasion no longer an option.” Tax Justice Blog. November 18.

Internal Revenue Service. (2016) “Tax Topic Master List.”

ITEP. (2015, September) State Tax Codes as Poverty Fighting Tools. Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy Report.

_____. (2015, January) Who Pays? 50-state report distributional tax analysis.

Kahn, C. (2015) “State with no income tax: Better or worse?” Bankrate. January 13.

McWhinnie, E. (2016a) “Top 10 States in America With the Highest Taxes in 2016.”

_____. (2016b) “Top 10 States in America With the Lowest Taxes in 2016.”

Tax Policy Center. (2016a) “How do State and Local Individual Income Taxes Work?”

_____. (2016b) “What types of federal grants are made to state and local governments and how do they work?”

_____. (2015, February) “Individual State Income Tax Rates 2000 - 2015.”

_____. (2014) “Sales Tax Rates, State and Local: 2004-2014.”

Urban Institute. (2015) “Data Query System (SLF-DQS).”

U.S. Department of the Treasury. (2010) “State and Local Taxes.”

More scholarly articles and resources here.

Week 6: Expenditures and Redistribution

Required Reading/Viewing:

The Economist (2014) “Roadblocks on the Path to Redistribution.” (watch as part of

lesson, transcript located in lesson for this week)


American Presidency Project. (2017) “President J. F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address: January 20, 1961.”

Holzer, H. (2016) “Reducing Poverty the Democratic Way.” The Brookings Institution. February 29.

Howard, C. (2015) “Tax Expenditures: What Are They and How Do They Work?”

Proctor, B.D., Semega, J.L., & Kollar, M.A. (2016) “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2015.” U.S. Census Bureau. Report No. P50-256.

Supplementary Reading:

American Presidency Project. (2017) “President J. F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address: January 20, 1961.”

Davison, A. (2012) “What we learned from teetering on the fiscal cliff.”

Lee, D. (2008) “Redistribution.” The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. Liberty Fund.

Miron, J. (2011) “Rethinking Redistribution.” National Affairs 6(Winter).

Newport, F. (2015) “Americans continue to say wealth distribution is unfair.” Gallup.

Posner, R. (2013) “Does Redistributing Income from Rich to Poor Increase or Reduce Economic Growth or Welfare?” The Becker-Posner Blog. (2015) “Poverty in the United States: Social Welfare vs the Market.” December 9.

Prante, G., & Hodge, S. (2013) “The Distribution of Tax and Spending Policies in the United States.” Tax Foundation.

Silver, N. (2013) “What Is Driving Growth in Government Spending?” New York Times. January 16.

Tax Policy Center. (2016a) “State and Local General Expenditures.”

_____. (2016b) “State and Local Direct General Expenditures, Per Capita.”

_____. (2016c) “What are the largest tax expenditures?”

U.S. Census Bureau. (2013) “State and Local Government Finances by Level of Government and by State: 2013.”

U.S. GAO. (n.d.) “Tax Expenditures.”

U.S. Government Spending. (n.d.) “U. S. Government Spending Totals in $ Billion.”

Week 7: Social Security, Education, Healthcare

Required Reading/Viewing:

Barnett, J., & Vornovitsky, M. (2016) “Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2015.” September.

Brown, J., Kapteyn,
A., & Mitchell, O. (2016) “Framing and Claiming: How Information-Framing Affects Expected Social Security Claiming Behavior.” Journal of Risk and Insurance 83(1), 139-162.

Seeker Daily. (2015) “How Does Social Security Really Work?” (watch as part of lesson)

Supplementary Reading:

Baker, D. (2014) “What does the Fed have to do with Social Security? Plenty.” Al Jazeera America. August 19.

Ballotpedia. (n.d.: a) “Social Security Act of 1935.”

_____. (n.d.: b) “Education Policy in the United States.”

_____. (n.d.: c) “History of Healthcare Policy in the United States.”

_____. (2016) “The No Child Left Behind Act.”

Bullock, D. (2013) “How Does Obamacare Work? 11 Questions, 11 Unbiased Answers.” Nasdaq. July 26.

Burke, V. (2003) “The 1996 Welfare Reform Law.” Congressional Research Service.

Federal Safety Net. (n.d.: 1) “Social Safety Net.”

_____. (n.d.: 2) “U.S. Welfare Programs.”

Haveman, R., Blank, R., Moffitt, R.,
Smeeding, T., &
 Wallace, G. (2016) “The War on Poverty: Measurement, Trends, and Policy.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 34(3), 593-638.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS). (2015)

_____. (2016a) “Publication 15.”

_____. (2016b) “Publication 51.”

_____. (2016c) “Topic 751: Social Security and Medicare Withholding Rates.”

Kaiser Family Foundation. (2016) “Key Facts about the Uninsured Population.”

Lee, D. (2008) “Redistribution.” The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. Liberty Fund.

Miller, D. (2016) “Top 5 Health Issues Facing States in 2016.” Council of State Governments. January 4.

Parker, T. (2014) “Who Pays Your Social Security Benefits?” Investopedia. August 14.

Reuters. (2016) “U.S. government says benchmark 2017 premiums up 25 percent.” October 24.

Social Security Administration (SSA). (n.d.) “Social Security History.”

_____. (2016) “A Summary of the 2016 Reports.”

U.S. Department of Education. (n.d.) “The Federal Role in Education.”

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). (2015). “The Affordable Care Act.”

_____. (2016) “Lack of Health Insurance Coverage.”

Week 8: National Defense and Conclusion

Required Reading:

DiGiuseppe, M. (2015) “Guns, butter, and debt: Sovereign creditworthiness and military expenditure.” Journal of Peace Research 52(5), 680-693.

Johnson, J. (2015) “Assessing Common Arguments for Cutting National Security Spending.” Heritage Foundation.

Richter, A. (2016) “Sharing the burden? U.S. allies, defense spending, and the future of NATO.” Comparative Strategy 35(4), 298-314.

Supplementary Reading:

Chadwick, L. (2016) “Most Voters Favor Cutting Defense Spending: Politicians Say Otherwise.” Center for Public Integrity. March 10.

Congressional Budget Office (CBO). (n.d.) “Defense and National Security.”

_____. (2016) “Long-Term Implications of the 2016 Future Years Defense Program.”

_____. (2015) “Replacing Military Personnel in Support Positions With Civilian Employees.” December 2.

ConnectUS. (2015) “13 Key Pros and Cons of Military Spending.”

Department of Defense. (2016) “Defense budget proposal: latest stories.”

Global Policy Forum. (2016a) “Global Public Goods.”

_____. (2016b) “U.S. Opposition to the International Criminal Court.”

Gorka, A. (2016) “Why Russia Quit International Criminal Court.” Strategic Culture Foundation. November 19.

Gould, S., & Bender, J. (2015) “How the U.S. Military Spends its Billions.” Business Insider. August 29.

National Priorities Project. (n.d.) “Trade Offs: Your Money, Your Choices. Interactive Data.”

Plumer, B. (2013) “America’s Staggering Defense Budget in Charts.” Washington Post. January 7.

Taylor, A. & Karklis, L. (2016) “This remarkable chart shows how U.S. defense spending dwarfs the rest of the world.” Washington Post. February 9.

U.S. Government Spending. (n.d.). “Defense Spending.”

Zycher, B. (2008) “Defense.” Concise Encyclopedia of Economics.

Book Title:Various resources from the APUS Library & the Open Web are used. Please visit to locate the course eReserve.*

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.