Centre of
Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy
Department of Spatial Planning
TU Wien

Augasse 2-6, 1090 Vienna, Austria
Tel.: ++43/1/58801-280321 (Office)
Fax: ++43/1/58801-280399
E-Mail: ifip@tuwien.ac.at
Web: www.ifip.tuwien.ac.at

News:

  • We congratulate the winners of the "Egon-Matzner-Prize for Socio-Economics 2018"
    Florentin Glötzl und Armon Rezai (WU Wien)
    Link 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 infrastructure economics.

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 engineering.

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 infrastructure.
  • Ecological economics, resource and environmental economics: economic (e)valuation of the use of natural resources and the ecological dimensions of economic processes.
  • 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 infrastructure, e-government.

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 likely effects?
  • 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.