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Institute of Public Economics

Research Scope

The mainstay of our work is fiscal theory, with a particular emphasis on the design, and the impact of, fiscal constitutions. Applications include tax evasion, tax competition, and the taxation of families (taxation of wealth transfers, the marriage penalty etc.).

Additional areas of interest are the economics of crime – with an application to corruption –, military economics, the economics of higher education, and experimental economics. In many cases, we conceive of these sub-fields as special instances of general public economic analysis, looking at the rationale for, and the optimal design of, collective action and government intervention in a mixed economy. There are also some isomorphisms between crimes from the theoretical point of view that one might exploit.

Current Research Projects

a. Conflict dynamics (in German)

Das Gesamtprojekt "Konfliktdynamiken" richtet sich auf die Dokumentation und Erforschung der Verlaufsformen und Wirkungen von Konflikten. Seine Besonderheiten liegen in den folgenden drei Aspekten:

        i)   umfassende Interdisziplinarität,

        ii)  präzise und vollständige Typologisierung,

        iii) Verbindung von Mikro-, Meso- und Makroperspektive.

Konflikte als soziales, ethisches und politisches Problem sind studiert, beschrieben und untersucht worden, nicht zuletzt als Gegenstand der Friedens- und Konfliktforschung. Sie sind aber noch nicht systematisch in ihren typischen oder gerade atypischen Verlaufsformen und Wirkungsgeschichten vergleichend und unter der Perspektive der bei uns vorhandenen Vielfalt an Sozial-, Geistes- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften zum Gegenstand gemacht worden. Diese Lücke gilt es zu schließen.

Dabei dürften Gesichtspunkte als Vergleichskategorien interdisziplinären Wert gewinnen, die in den Einzelwissenschaften in den letzten Dezennien separat studiert wurden: Aggression, Mediatisierung, das Verhältnis zwischen segmentären und sedentären Gesellschaften, failed states und unterschiedliche Typen der Staatlichkeit, Gesichtspunkte der Institutionenökonomik, die Rolle sozialer Identitäten und Leitbilder. Konfliktdynamik erscheint zwar als façon de parler und wird dann verwendet für den Gedanken einer Mechanik, eines Automatismus von Konflikten auf einer Eskalationsstufe, auf der diese sich der Steuerbarkeit bereits entziehen. Dieser Gegenstand soll durch unser Projekt in umfassender Weise in den Blick genommen werden: Jenseits von Eskalationsautomatiken sollen Konflikte als gedachte, gemachte, aber auch zu bewältigende Phänomene in den Blick kommen.

Das heißt: Die Verlaufsformen der Konflikte selbst und ihre Veränderungen, die Typologie und Wirkungen sollen innergesellschaftlich wie im internationalen Maßstab studiert werden.

Für eine Posterpräsentation klicken Sie bitte hier.

POC: Klaus.Beckmann(at)hsu-hh.de

b. Economics of Higher Education

Using a new panel dataset comprising publication and appointment data for 889 German academic economists over a quarter of a century, we confirm the familiar hypothesis that publications are important for professorial appointments, but find only a small negative effect of appointments on subsequent research productivity, in particular if one controls for the presence of top researchers (``stars''). Surprisingly, the research output of stars drops significantly more than the average in the aftermath of an appointment.  We also provide some evidence of the effects of the fundamental reform of economics in Germany and of affirmative action procedures.

POC: Klaus.Beckmann(at)hsu-hh.de / Andrea.Schneider(at)hsu-hh.de

c. Economics of Corruption

POC: Gerrits(at)hsu-hh.de

d. Tax Morale and Tax Evasion

POC: Kundt(at)hsu-hh.de

e. Corruption and lobbying

Recent work indicates that lobbying may be a substitute for, rather than a complement of, corruption. It has also been pointed out before that corruption is efficient in the sense that its reduction does not make everybody better off (obviously, the recipient of the transfer loses). However, little attention has been paid to the fact that lobbying is a waste of resources (a DUP activity), and if corruption is curtailed and firms lobby more, the result may be that everyone is worse off. This project explores this argument and also looks at DUP activities (such as the maintenance of secrecy) associated with corruption. In a more general vein, this long-term research project aims at a theoretical integration of models of corruption and of lobbying.

POC: Klaus.Beckmann(at)hsu-hh.de / Gerrits(at)hsu-hh.de

f. The impact of other-regarding preferences on optimal policies

A rather welcome development in recent years has been that economists have become increasingly inclined to listen to psychologists. In the new field of behavioural economics, a large number of motivations ranging from a taste for one’s relative income position to an intrinsic motive to perform have been discussed. However, the – at times contradictory – consequences of such preferences for optimal allocational and distributional policies have not received as much attention, and there as yet does not exist a satisfactory systematic treatment. For many applications, such as inheritance taxation, this may be crucial.

POC: Klaus.Beckmann(at) hsu-hh.de

g. A critique of tax competition

Given the sheer size of the existing literature on tax competition, it is astonishing that a fair number of problems have not been given appropriate consideration. These include the integration of capital and income taxation, asymmetries between tax exporting and importing countries, and strategic complications arising from the fact that tax rates are strategic complements in most models. We take up these issues, formalise them in a single framework and thus provide a systematic critique of the received theory on (horizontal) tax competition.

POC: Klaus.Beckmann(at)hsu-hh.de

h. Family taxation

It is not just the demographic decline in Europe that has brought the treatment of families by policy into sharp relief again – current issues being discussed include inheritance taxation, the abolition of the marital deduction (“Ehegattensplitting”) as well as various ways to provide incentives for rearing children. While these topics are usually discussed separately, they share a number of characteristics such as the importance of other-regarding preferences, for example altruism, joint planning, and low enforcement costs of informal agreements. The purpose of this long-term research project is to provide an overall perspective on, and integration of, the separate issues, while generating front-line research articles on them individually.

POC: Klaus.Beckmann(at)hsu-hh.de / Gattke(at)hsu-hh.de

i. Aspects of higher education reform

Thorough reform is changing the system of higher education, and of research, throughout Europe in several ways, not all of them good. In reforming details of the institutional structure, there appears to be a preference for imitating anglo-american solutions without due regard for the interaction of the various elements of the institutional system (order), especially for informal rules. This incipient research project is meant to build up a new database for assessing the consequences of higher education reform empirically, and to provide some formal underpinnings for an institutional critique of such reform.

POC: Klaus.Beckmann(at)hsu-hh.de / Andrea.Schneider(at)hsu-hh.de

Additional Services

• Joint planning and execution of small specialised modules in higher education, such as interdisciplinary seminars for select students and/or professionals.

• Consulting services with special emphasis on local governments and institutions of higher education, including applied research in the area of Public Finance, especially project evaluation.

• Keynote speeches and lectures for both professional and public audiences, covering (a) regional policy, transformation and EU integration, (b) issues of higher education reform, (c) tax compliance and corruption.

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Klaus B. Beckmann

Phone +49 40 6541 2844

Fax +49 40 6541 2609

Email klaus.beckmann(at)hsu-hh.de

Web http://www.hsu-hh.de/beckmann

Blog http://web.mac.com/beckes

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