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Munich Lectures in Economics

Every year the Center for Economic Studies (CES) of the University of Munich awards a prize to an internationally renowned and innovative economist for outstanding contributions to economic research. The scholar is invited to give the “Munich Lectures in Economics.” The related book series introduces areas of recent or potential interest to a wide audience in a nontechnical way and combines theoretical depth with policy relevance.

Retrospective and Prospective Views

Many things inform a country’s choice of tax system, including political considerations, public opinion, bureaucratic complexities, and ideas drawn from theoretical analysis. In this book, Robin Boadway examines the role of optimal tax analysis in informing and influencing tax policy design. Scholars of public economics formulate models of optimal tax-transfer systems based on normative principles that reflect efficiency and equity considerations.

A Revolution in Economics

Revolutionary developments in economics are rare. The conservative bias of the field and its enshrined knowledge make it difficult to introduce new ideas not in line with received theory. Happiness research, however, has the potential to change economics substantially in the future.

Making Development Happen

Despite significant gains in promoting economic growth and living conditions (or "human progress") globally over the last twenty-five years, much of the developing world remains plagued by poverty and its attendant problems, including high rates of child mortality, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and war. In Growth and Empowerment, Nicholas Stern, Jean-Jacques Dethier, and F. Halsey Rogers propose a new strategy for development.

The authors of The Economic Effects of Constitutions use econometric tools to study what they call the "missing link" between constitutional systems and economic policy; the book is an uncompromisingly empirical sequel to their previous theoretical analysis of economic policy. Taking recent theoretical work as a point of departure, they ask which theoretical findings are supported and which are contradicted by the facts. The results are based on comparisons of political institutions across countries or time, in a large sample of contemporary democracies.

In this book, Peter Diamond analyzes social security as a particular example of optimal taxation theory. Assuming a world of incomplete markets and asymmetric information, he uses a variety of simple models to illuminate the economic forces that bear on specific social security policy issues. The focus is on the degree of progressivity desirable in social security and the design of incentives to delay retirement beyond the earliest age of eligibility for benefits.

In Competition in Telecommunications, Jean-Jacques Laffont and Jean Tirole analyze regulatory reform and the emergence of competition in network industries using the state-of-the-art theoretical tools of industrial organization, political economy, and the economics of incentives.

In recent years the welfare state has come under attack from economists, and in many OECD countries there have been calls for spending on the welfare state to be rolled back. Critics argue that the size of transfer programs is responsible for a decline in economic performance and that cuts in spending are a prerequisite for a return to the golden age of full employment and economic growth. A. B. Atkinson takes such criticisms seriously, placing them under empirical and analytical scrutiny.

A Transaction-Cost Politics Perspective

The Making of Economic Policy begins by observing that most countries' trade policies are so blatantly contrary to all the prescriptions of the economist that there is no way to understand this discrepancy except by delving into the politics. The same is true for many other dimensions of economic policy.