Chair of Public Finance


A Master Thesis can be written at the chair in the various areas covered by the lectures of the chair in the MSc program. The focus is on government revenues and expenditures, European Union public finances as well as the social insurance systems. Of course, interested students could also come to my office and discuss own ideas with me. It is also possible to work first on a seminar thesis and then extend that to a Master thesis.  

In principle and depending on the individual preferences, a thesis could be either theoretically or more policy oriented. I also accept pure literature reviews and more research oriented self-designed extensions of existing models and simulation studies. In general, I distinguish three types of a Master thesis:

A theory-oriented thesis is based on only a few (i.e. 2-4) theoretical papers. Typically, published work does not explain all steps of the analysis in detail. Therefore, the main task of such a thesis would be to compute the different steps to the solution of the model in detail to demonstrate that one has completely understood the theory. A perfect thesis of this kind allows to understand the original paper(s) without reading the latter. Since most of the themes are extensions of the different topics covered in my course “Optimal Tax Theory”, students are advised to complete this course before opting for such a thesis.     

A policy-oriented thesis is much broader based on the current (or recent) policy discussion. Typically, it contains a data section which provides a basis for the analysis and a discussion of allocative and distributive arguments raised in the literature. Compared to the previous thesis type, it requires to read and survey much more literature. In addition, a formal, model-oriented part is often either fairly small or even completely absent. Since most of the themes are extensions of the different topics covered in my course “European Public Finance”, students are advised to complete this course before opting for such a thesis.

A simulation-based thesis is probably the most ambitious type of a thesis. It requires to improve or extend a specific simulation model which is provided by the chair. Consequently, the main part of the thesis is programming (Typically in Fortran!) and documentation of one’s work. It could be seen as a first own research project and often provides a basis for a doctorate afterwards. Since programming skills and the theoretical basis are provided in my courses “Advanced Computational Economics” and “Optimal Tax Theory”, students are advised to complete these courses before opting for such a thesis.


The following topics are currently provided and will be updated regularly.

Topics for a theory-oriented thesis

1. Emission trading and technological innovation (Emissionshandel und technologische Innovation)

  • Andre, F. und C. Arguedas (2018): Technology adoption in emission trading programs with market power, Energy Journal 39, 145-174.
  • Requate,T. (2005a): Dynamic incentives by environmental policy instruments-a Survey, Ecological Economics 54, 175-195.
  • Requate, T. (2005b): Timing and commitment of environmental policy, adoption of new technology, and Repercussions on R&D," Environmental and Resource Economics, 31, 175-199.
  • Requate, T. und W. Unold (2003): Environmental Policy Incentives to Adopt Advanced Abatement Technology: Will the True Ranking Please Stand Up? European Economic Review 47, 125-146.

2. Tax havens in theory and practice (Theorie und Empirie von Steueroasen)

  • Hong und Smart (2010): In praise of tax havens: International tax planning and foreign direct investment, EER 54(1), 82-95.
  • Slemrod und Wilson (2009): Tax competition with parasitic tax havens, JPE 93, 1261-1270.
  • Johannesen, N. (2010): Imperfect tax competition for profits, asymmetric equilibrium and beneficial tax havens, JIE 81(2), 253-264.

3. Estimating the social cost of carbon (Wie hoch ist die optimale CO2 Steuer?)

  • Nordhaus, W. (2019): Climate change: The ultimate challenge for Economics, AER, 1991-2014.
  • Hassler et al. (2018): The consequences of uncertainty: Climate Sensitivity and economic sensitivity to climate, AnRevEcon 189-205.
  • Golosov, M. et al. (2014): Optimal taxes on fosil fuel in general Equilibrium, Econometrica 41-88.
  • Chai, Y. and T. Lontzek (2019): The social cost of carbon with economic and climate risk, JouPolEcon 127(6), 2684-2734.

4. (Country) Overshoot Day is getting closer and closer - Finite Resources in a Global Economy (Der Erdüberlastungstag rückt näher - Endliche Ressourcen in der globalen Ökonomie)

  • Tahvonen, O. and Salo, S. (2001). Economic growth and transitions between renewable and nonrenewable energy resources. European Economic Review 45(8), 1379-98.
  • Hassler, J., Krusell, P., and Olovsson, C. (2022). Finite resources and the world economy. Journal of International Economics 136, 103592.

5. Running in Circles - The Circular Economy (CE): The Conceptualization of a basic model (Kreislaufwirtschaft - Konzeptionalisierung eines Standardmodells)

  • Sörensen, P.B. (2017). The basic environmental economics of the circular economy. EPRU Working Paper Series 2017-04, Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen.
  • Sörensen, P.B. (2018). From the linear to the circular economy: A basic model. Public Finance Analysis 74, 71-87.
  • Korhonen, J., Honkasalo, A., and Seppälä, J. (2018). Circular Economy: The Concept and its Limitations, Ecological Economics 143, 37-46.

Topics for a policy-oriented thesis

1. Inequality and Economic Growth (Wie beeinflusst die Einkommensverteilung das ökonomische Wachstum?)

  • Banerjee und E. Duflo (2003) JEG 8, 267-299.
  • Brueckner, M. and D. Lederman (2018) "Inequality and economic growth: the role of initial income", Journal of Economic Growth 23, 341-366.
  • Erman, L. and D. M. te Kaat (2019) "Inequality and growth: industry-level evidence", Journal of Economic Growth 24, 283-308.
  • Halter, D. M. Oechslin and J. Zweimüller (2014) "Inequality and growth: the neglected time dimension", Journal of Economic Growth 19, 81-104.

2. Public debt and banking system (Staatsverschuldung und Bankensektor)

  • Brutti, F. (2011): Sovereign Defaults and Liquidity Crises, Journal of International Economics 84 (1), 65–72.
  • Bolton, P. and O. Jeanne (2011): Sovereign Default Risk and Bank Fragility in Financially Integrated Economies, IMF Economic Review 59 (2), 162–94.
  • Gennaioli, N., A. Martin and S. Rossi (2014): Sovereign Default, Domestic Banks, and Financial Institutions, Journal of Finance 69 (2), 819–66.
  • Gennaioli, N., A. Martin and S. Rossi (2018): Banks, Government Bonds, and Default: What Do the Data Say? Journal of Monetary Economics 98, 98–113.
  • Bocola, L. (2016): The Pass-Through of Sovereign Risk,  Journal of Political Economy 124 (4), 879–926.

3. Climate clubs and carbon border adjustment mechanism (Klimaclubs und CBAM)

  • Böhringer et al. (2022): Potential impacts and challenges of border carbon adjustments, Nature Climate Change 12, 22-29.
  • Nordhaus, W. (2015): Climate clubs: Overcoming free-riding in international climate policy, American Economics Review 105(4), 1339-1370.
  • Fontagné, L. and Schubert, K. (2023). The Economics of Border Carbon Adjustment: Rationale and Impacts of Compensating for Carbon at the Border. Annual Review of Economics 15, 389-424.
  • Clausing, K.A. and Wolfram, C. (2023). Carbon Border Adjustments, Climate Clubs, and Subsidy Races When Climate Policies Vary. Journal of Economic Perspectives 37(3), 137-62.

4. European Unemployment Insurance System (Europäische Arbeitslosenversicherung)

  • Abraham et al. (2023): On the design of a European Unemployment Insurance System, European Economic Review 156, 104469. 
  • Claveres, G. and M. Clemens (2017): Unemployment Insurance Union. Working Paper, German Institute for Economic Research (DIW).
  • Dolls, M., et al. (2018): An unemployment insurance scheme for the euro area? A comparison of different alternatives using micro data, Int. Tax Public Finance 25 (1), 273–309.

5. Internalisierung externer Effekte innerhalb des Steuersystems: Sind nachhaltige Lenkungssteuern realisierbar oder Utopie?

  • Amberg, M. et al. (2022): Reformoptionen für ein nachhaltiges Steuer- und Abgabensystem: Wie Lenkungssteuern effektiv und gerecht für den Klima- und Umweltschutz ausgestaltet werden können, Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, 23(3), 165-199.

6. Arbeitsmarkt: Findet eine Polarisierung aufgrund von Skills oder Tasks statt? Welche Annahmen wurden getroffen und welche aktuellen Daten gibt es?

  • Autor, D. H., & Dorn, D. (2013). The growth of low-skill service jobs and the polarization of the US labor market. American economic review, 103(5), 1553-1597.
  • Autor, D. H. (2015). Why are there still so many jobs? The history and future of workplace automation. Journal of economic perspectives, 29(3), 3-30.
  • Ottaviano, G. I. P., Peri, G., & Wright, G. C. (2013). Immigration, offshoring, and American jobs. American Economic Review, 103(5), 1925-1959.

7. Arbeitsmarkt Deutschland: Gestaltung und Auswirkungen von Bürgergeld, Mindestlohn und/ oder anderen Reformen

  • Amlinger, M., Bispinck, R., & Schulten, T. (2016). Ein Jahr Mindestlohn in Deutschland: Erfahrungen und Perspektiven (No. 28). WSI Report.
  • Blömer, M. et al. (2024). „Lohnt” sich Arbeit noch? Lohnabstand und Arbeitsanreize im Jahr 2024, ifo-Schnelldienst, 77(1), 35-38.
  • Beckmann, F., Heinze, R. G., Schad, D. & Schupp, J. (2022). Bürgergeld statt Hartz IV: Was sich Langzeitarbeitslose von der geplanten Reform erhoffen. DIW Wochenbericht, 89(31/32), 411-420.
  • Beckmann, F., Heinze, R. G., Schad, D., & Schupp, J. (2024). Erfahrungsbilanz Bürgergeld: Jobcenterbeschäftigte sehen kaum Verbesserungen. DIW Wochenbericht, 91(17), 251-259.
  • Deutscher Bundestag (2023). Übersicht der finanziellen Leistungsansprüche nach dem SGB II: Neuregelungen durch das Bürgergeld, Wissenschaftliche Dienste, AZ WD 6 - 3000 - 105/22.

8. Arbeitslosenversicherung: optimale Gestaltung und Auswirkungen

  • Pavoni, N. (2007). On optimal unemployment compensation. Journal of Monetary Economics, 54(6), 1612-1630.
  • Landais, C., Michaillat, P., & Saez, E. (2010). A macroeconomic theory of optimal unemployment insurance (No. w16526). National Bureau of Economic Research.
  • Schwartz, J. (2015). Optimal unemployment insurance: When search takes effort and money. Labour Economics, 36, 1-17.


Topics for a simulation-based thesis

Modelling imperfect competition in either a closed economy or a 2-country model

Modelling unemployment spells in a dynamic Ramsey model

Modelling marriage and/or fertility decisions in a life cycle model

Modelling of climate policy in a dynamic model


A thesis can be written in German or in English. There are no formal requirements besides the general rules of research and scientific work. Finally, the number of pages is not determining the final grade. On average, a thesis is about 60-80 pages in size, but with complex theoretical models it could be also shorter.  

At the end of the thesis you need to sign a statement which declares that you have written it on your own and specify whether you applied some AI tools. The statement can be downloaded here.

If you have to draw graphs we suggest to use Corel Draw or Micrographics Designer which students in Wuerzburg can download free of charge at the respective university website.  If you need to use a lot of mathematical formulars and variables, we also encourage you to write your thesis with Latex instead of Word. A thesis format for both Word and Latex can be found below. 

Formatvorlage Word

Formatvorlage LaTeX