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Public Finance & Economics

Research in Public Finance and Public Economics at SPEA focuses on how the government raises revenue through taxes and borrowing, and on how the government spends it. We also study how the government plans, controls and accounts for such activities through budgeting and accounting, as well as the design and administration of all of these functions. Finally, SPEA faculty examine the impact of such public sector activities on the economic behavior of individuals, firms, nonprofit organizations, and markets, and on economic efficiency.

Faculty Members

David B. Audretsch

Distinguished Professor, Ameritech Chair of Economic Development

Sameeksha Desai

Assistant Professor

Denvil R. Duncan

Assistant Professor

Seth Freedman

Assistant Professor

Bradley T. Heim

Associate Professor

Craig Johnson

Associate Professor

Haeil Jung

Assistant Professor

Robert Kravchuk

Professor and Director, Master of Public Affairs (MPA) and Online MPA

Kerry Krutilla

Associate Professor

John L. Mikesell

Chancellor's Professor

Ashlyn Aiko Nelson

Associate Professor

Daniel Preston

Clinical Assistant Professor

Justin Ross

Associate Professor

Barry M. Rubin

Professor and Policy Analysis and Public Finance Faculty Chair

Michael Rushton

Professor and Director of Arts Administration Programs

Kosali Simon


Anh Tran

Assistant Professor

Nikolaos Zirogiannis

Visiting Assistant Professor

C. Kurt Zorn

Professor and Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

Faculty Research

Study: Voluntary support for public schools has grown, but not enough to offset tax losses

Researchers find students in high-poverty schools are less likely to benefit

Indiana University project reveals local revenue structure is growing less stable

An Indiana University fiscal benchmarking project has produced its first report, and it contains cautionary news for state and local officials and Hoosier taxpayers.

Study: Corruption increases and distorts spending by U.S. states

A new study by John Mikesell and Cheol Liu identifies the most corrupt and least corrupt states in the United States and calculates that government corruption costs American taxpayers tens of billions of dollars a year.

Study: States were cautious about investing in financial derivatives

The study examines the 50 states' use of derivatives between 2003 and 2009. It finds that no more than about 10 percent of state debt was tied to derivatives in any year.

IU policy experts support 'low-tech' adoption of road user fees

There is consensus that the best alternative to the gas tax we currently pay is a system of fees based on vehicle miles of travel and vehicle weight, referred to as VMT-F.

U.S. middle class prospering more than commonly believed, policy study finds

Long portrayed as stagnant in economic terms, the income growth of the U.S. middle class may be much greater than suggested by economists such as Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, according to a new study.

New research proves the business case for product philanthropy

The study, released today by Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs, provides the first detailed examination of the return on investment for donating merchandise as opposed to liquidating or destroying it.

Corporations owned in corrupt nations more likely to evade taxes in the U.S., study says

The study compiles evidence of tax evasion from a confidential database of almost 25,000 corporate audits performed by the Internal Revenue Service between 1997 and 2006. It compares those results with corruption norms from Transparency International's widely used Corruption Perception Index.

SPEA Insights November 2011

In this issue Craig Johnson discusses the United States credit rating falling from triple-A to AA+.

Good360, IU collaborate to measure impact of 'product philanthropy'

The Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs and Good360, formerly Gifts In Kind International, have completed the first year of a unique, ongoing collaboration designed to measure the impacts of corporate gifts-in-kind to non-profit organizations.

Steps needed to reduce likelihood that pilot commuting practices could pose safety risk, but too little data now to support regulation

The report was requested by Congress due to concerns about pilots' commuting practices and whether they could lead to dangerous levels of fatigue, given that some pilots do not live near the airports where they are based and must travel long distances before beginning their flight duty. Such concerns increased following a fatal Colgan Air crash in Buffalo, N.Y., on Feb. 12, 2009.

Audretsch on the results of university research

“We learned that there are more start-up businesses coming out of university research than had been measured,” Audretsch, said.

New edition of Fiscal Administration addresses timely financial issues

Mikesell, an authority on the revenue side of public finance, said the textbook will help students understand where money for public budgets comes from and teach them to "run the numbers."