Augasse 2-6, 1090 Vienna, Austria
Tel.: ++43/1/58801-280321 (Office)
- We congratulate the
winners of the "Egon-Matzner-Prize for Socio-Economics 2018"
Florentin Glötzl und Armon Rezai (WU Wien)
to the event
Every year, our Centre of Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy at
Vienna University of Technology calls for submissions to the
Egon-Matzner-Prize of Socio-Economics, awarded to young excellent scholars
for recent innovative papers in the fields of socio-economics.
Founded in 1972 the Centre of Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy (IFIP)
has the following general goals:
- to transfer existing knowledge about the public sector and its effects
on economic and society by teaching students and
- to contribute to the enhancement of knowledge by doing research in the
fields of public economics, regional and urban economics, land and
Teaching at the Centre aims to equip students to ascertain the factors
determining decision-making in the public sector and the influence this has on
the economy, society and the environment, including spatial planning. Our
research work is devoted to deepening knowledge in this field.
Our scientific staff consists of 9-13 people, depending on available funds from research
projects. According to the inter-disciplinary character of the research and
teaching fields economists, computing scientists, planners as well as engineers
are employed at the department.
Within TU Wien, IFIP is one of the most active
divisions in terms of commissioned research. In the course of the years some
distinguished clients such as the Commission of the European Union, several
Austrian government departments (transport, finance, environment, research), all
federal states of Austria, some Austrian cities, the Austrian federal railways,
and several private companies commissioned IFIP to
do research for them. In particular, the coverage of different sectors of
infrastructure economics and planning has proved to be useful for the deepening
of knowledge in the single sectors.
IFIP offers lectures for several masters programs, namely urban and regional
planning, business informatics, architecture, civil engineering and industrial
The main areas of teaching and research are:
- Public Finance: analysis of budgets of public institutions and
public-private institutions, fiscal federalism, revenue sharing systems,
theory of state and market failure, regulation and deregulation, analysis
of economic incentive mechanisms, determinants of public sector decision
processes and their effects on society and economy.
- Infrastructure policy and economics particular within the
fields of energy, transport, water provision, sewage, telecommunication, waste disposal, social and health services,
models, software and information systems for selected fields of the
- Ecological economics, resource and environmental economics: economic
the use of natural resources and the ecological dimensions of economic
- Real estate and land economics: economic analysis of urban or
regional real estate
projects including technology centres.
- Urban and regional economics: Sectoral, regional and local
economic analysis with regard to diverse aims of regional planning.
- Models, software and information systems for analysis,
prognosis and simulation of public budgets and several fields of
The importance of our tasks in teachin and research is
obvious: Rapid technological progress and the worldwide proliferation of new
forms of economic organisation are having an increasing influence on the
development of the economy, society and natural as well as built-up spaces. In
order to prevent these developments from becoming inhumane and destructive, the
public authorities need to regulate economic activity and to declare some of
these domains public goods. Successful interventions require the ability to
predict the effects of public decisions, an ability that is obviously limited by
uncertainty and risk. The Institute’main focus is the theoretical basis for the
provision of public services and for regulating economic activity and economic
relationships. It analyses both negative and positive external effects and as
well as the total costs and benefits of private ownership and private
activities. Such measures may be construed in two ways: either as designed to
increase social welfare while respecting the natural environment; or as a means
for political and administrative decision-makers to realize their own interests,
i. e. to maximize their share of the vote, the budget and administrative
political power. The former view is a teleological one in which instruments are
used to optimize public welfare, compromising where necessary. The latter view
helps to explain why politicians and bureaucrats act as they do. The Centre
analyses the various chances and risks involved in the use of public funds from
these two points of view, both prospectively and retrospectively. Considerable
attention is paid to what happens when political decision-making fails.
Consequently, the following points must be examined:
- How should public authorities fulfill their
responsibility to the public? Should they establish general frameworks for
private activities, provide services themselves or, alternatively, ensure or
regulate their provision by private firms?
- What are appropriate instruments for fulfilling
public tasks – legal norms protecting private property and other rights,
legal norms directly controlling individual behaviour such as prohibitions
and prescriptions, contracts, public services, public revenues and
expenditure, information and co-ordination – and what are their possible and
- Can social welfare be increased by privatizing
formerly public activities and by reforming regulations?
- What does the fulfilment of public tasks cost and
how can this be financed?
- Who are the beneficiaries and who pays?
- What are appropriate methods to analyse, plan,
evaluate and select alternative public projects and the goods and services
they provide? These mainly quantitative methods of analysis include
cost-effectiveness analysis, cost-benefit analysis and usevalue analysis.
They can be supported by contingent valuation methods, by methods of
econometric estimation of parameters in equations to explain economic
behaviour, such as time series and panel analyses, by hedonic price models,
methods to analyse value-added, employment and fiscal effects of public
investment, by distributional incidence analysis of the benefits and
financial burden of public goods and by budget analysis and financial
planning based on reference numbers.
- Finally we ask what impact public instruments have
on economic efficiency, ecological compatibility and equity and fairness,
and thus on the sustainability, of economic activity?
An overview on recent activities can be found in the
IFIP activity reports.