The Research Group in Public Economics is a research group at the University of Zaragoza, recognized as a reference group by the Government of Aragon, which consists of most of the teachers and researchers in Public Economics at this university.
It comprises thirteen teachers belonging to the Department of Economic Structure and History and Public Economics of the University of Zaragoza, most of whom are in turn members of the Instituto Universitario de Investigación en Ciencias Ambientales de Aragón (University Institute of Research into Environmental Sciences of Aragon).
The research activity of the group is focused on public economics, i.e. on the economic analysis of the foundations and consequences of public sector intervention in economic activity and of the instruments of such intervention: public income and expenditure, public regulation and enterprise.
Lines of investigation
The work of the group revolves around three main lines of investigation:
- Economic analysis of taxation, i.e. the normative and positive analysis of taxes on the basis of the principles of equity, efficiency and simplicity.
- Economic analysis of public policies and services, i.e. the analysis of public intervention through expenditure and regulation, taking into account its efficacy, efficiency and equity.
- Regional and local public economics, i.e. the analysis of the processes of territorial decentralization of power and the relationships between the distinct levels of government, paying special attention to the financial problems of fiscal federalism.
Each of these lines of investigation includes the analysis of those interventions that have an effect on the environment (taxes, public services, investment projects, regulations, etc.), paying particular attention to the sphere of water.
In relation to the economic analysis of interventions that have an impact on the environment, the group has carried out numerous studies that focus on the following questions, among others:
- The economic-financial effects of the various environmental taxes
- The consequences of decentralization on environmental taxation
- The design of tariffs for water supply provision
- The costs and benefits of policies for the protection of natural spaces
- Hazardous waste management
- The determinants of water consumption in private households and in companies
- The impact on water consumption of pricing policies, technical change, education and the raising of public awareness
- The economic and financial profitability of environmental projects.
All this has been undertaken within the framework of various research projects and contracts with companies and administrative bodies, and has resulted in the publication of numerous books and articles in national and international journals.
In pursuing its work, the group uses the general infrastructure of the University of Zaragoza, in particular the bibliographical resources and data bases provided by the university library, as well as the computer systems of the Department of Economic Structure and History and Public Economics of the University, and the facilities of the faculties to which its members belong, above all the Faculty of Economics and Enterprise.
In carrying out projects associated with contracts with companies and administrative bodies, the group very frequently operates with data provided by the contracting party or generated by the group itself in the course of the project.
- Economic analysis of taxation: redistributive effects; incentive and disincentive effects; efficiency costs; tax evasion; design of taxes; tax management assessment; etc.; application of the above to state, regional and local taxation.
- Economic analysis of public policies and services: efficacy, efficiency and productivity assessment; equity assessment; cost-efficacy analysis; cost-benefit analysis; financial and economic profitability; impact on the prevention of population loss, etc.; application of the above to the national, regional and local sphere, both in an urban and a rural context.
- Analysis of the processes of decentralization and the relationships between the distinct levels of government: regional financing; local financing, regional fiscal balances; regional and local budgets; conflicts between autonomous regions and central government, etc.