Conference on Local Public Economics at ZEW


2020 ZEW Public Finance Conference: Coronavirus Edition

The organising team of the ZEW Public Finance Conference 2020 coordinating the online event.

This year’s ZEW Public Finance Conference discussed the progress made in local public economics, leading the way in the digital sphere – the public finance conference that took place online on 8 May 2020 was one of the first large economic conferences held during the coronavirus pandemic. Around 120 international researchers from different time zones came together in this virtual space to discuss the topic “Advances in Local Public Economics” as well as issues at the interface of public finance and political economy.

The online conference, which was jointly organised by ZEW and the Collaborative Research Center SFB 884 “Political Economy of Reforms”, featured, amongst other things, a keynote speech delivered by Daniel Sturm, professor of economics at the London School of Economics (LSE) and president of the Urban Economics Association (UEA). In his speech, he shed light on the role of transport infrastructures for individual mobility and economic activity in metropolitan areas.

Implications of transport infrastructures as a public good

Keynote speaker Professor Daniel Sturm from the London School of Economics (LSE) during his online speech

Professor Sturm presented a research project in which he and his co-authors analysed the implications of the construction of the railway network in London between 1801 and 1921. London was the first major city to build a large-scale railway network that had a lasting effect on its geography and for the first time made it possible to separate the place of residence and the place of work.

This not only led to a relocation and concentration of economic activity and residential areas, but also resulted in rapid population and economic growth. According to Sturm, the findings of the analysis have important policy implications and make it possible to evaluate the added value of public transport infrastructures or the tax equivalents  of land use restrictions.

Current research on local public economics and political economy

ZEW economists exchanging ideas with the participants of the virtual 2020 Public Finance Conference

Under very special circumstances, ZEW coordinated the event from Mannheim, enabling speakers from seven different time zones to exchange ideas with participants from across the globe despite the current travel restrictions.

In four sessions, international researchers presented and discussed academic advances in local public economics. The presented research projects covered a broad spectrum of topics ranging from empirical and theoretical contributions in the field of political economy to tax policy-related research questions. In addition to presentations focusing on the considerations of policymakers regarding local public finance, the event also featured contributions related to the implications of public decision-making, including presentations on tax incidence, public debt and voter behaviour in local elections.

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