Public Economics and the Household

Public Economics and the Household
  • By Patricia Apps

    By Ray Rees

  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press

    Online Publication Date:May 2010

    Online ISBN:9780511626548

    Hardback ISBN:9780521887878

    Paperback ISBN:9780521716284

  • Book DOI:

    Subjects: Macroeconomics

Economic models in much of the public economics literature have been slow to reflect the significant changes towards double-income households throughout the developed world. This graduate-level text develops a more sophisticated approach to household economics, one that allows for multiple-income earners and shared decision-making. This approach is used to present a fundamentally new view of consumption. It then applies this to an analysis of tax systems, combining theoretical analysis of optimal taxation and tax reform with careful empirical study of the characteristics of income tax systems in four different countries: Australia, Germany, the UK and the USA. The book is particularly concerned with analysing, both theoretically and empirically, the impact of taxation on female labour supply, and identifying its effects on work incentives and fairness of income distribution. All this adds up to a fascinating new approach to the economics of household for researchers in both public and private sectors.


"Most of economic theory assumes that human beings spend their life alone. In reality most of us live in families and our decisions are taken collectively as a couple, often with children, and economic incentives are at play as well in intra family interactions. This wonderful book by two leaders of the field fills this gap. It brings together a vast literature in a coherent framework and provides a host of new insights on the economics of the family and the taxation of it. A must read for any scholar in public finance and anybody interested in the economics of the family. The book is mostly theory but the connection with real world tax issues is never forgotten. A splendid achievement." - Alberto Alesina, Nathaniel Ropes Professor of Political Economics, Harvard University

"How economists think about how households make decisions has come a long way in the last 30 years. Now economics is well placed to address a range of important policy issues that, previously, it was sadly ill equipped to analyze sensibly. Apps and Rees have, in no small measure, been responsible for bringing household decision-making in from the cold. The authors have synthesized, clarified and built on their long and productive collaboration to produce both a concise monograph for experts in the field and a textbook for students wanting to enter it. There are also important lessons here for policymakers - the simplistic models of behavior and welfare that have driven policy initiatives in many countries, when viewed from the perspective offered by Apps and Rees, may be perverse and counterproductive. This is not a book whose time has come - this is a book that is long overdue." - Ian Walker, Professor of Economics, Lancaster University Management School

"This well-written book presents an enlightening survey of the literature and backs up the theoretical analysis with new and interesting empirical work. It is a strong demonstration of the power of microeconomic theory and public economics to illuminate important issues of public policy. Public economists and their graduate students will find much to inspire them in this book." - Agnar Sandmo, Emeritus Professor of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration (NHH)

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