Policy field

Finance and Public Budgets

Money lies at the heart of politics. Public budgets decide who pays and who benefits from much of what the government does. There are conflicting ideas, however, about the goals budgets should reach. Decisions on expenditures and revenues are inherently redistributive, and some judge budgets based on how well they help one or more groups in society. This policy field looks at the effectiveness of budgets – i.e. beyond allocation issues to consider whether the funds are being spent in a manner that reaches the government's goals – as well as their efficiency. In other words, it considers whether the government is paying too much for the goods and services it receives and provides. Added to this, budgets should also be sustainable.

These goals are, however, often in conflict (the most effective policy may not be a fiscally sustainable one) and one question to ask is why some governments emphasise some goals over others. This policy area is also interested in exploring how budgets are made. Topics included under this rubric include fiscal rules, performance budgeting, top-down budgeting, multi-annual expenditure plans, and the organisation of institutions within state or state-like units (e.g. fiscal federalism).


Policy field speakers

  • Mark Hallerberg, Professor of Public Management and Political Economy, MPP Director | Director, Fiscal Governance Centre

  • Henrik Enderlein, Associate Dean, Professor of Political Economy and Director, Jacques Delors Institut – Berlin