The purpose of this seminar is to undertake an in-depth exploration, primarily through the lens of economics, of the shifting boundaries between the public and private sectors in the operation and financing of infrastructure—including both “hard infrastructure” (e.g., transportation networks and hubs, electricity and gas networks, and communications networks) and “soft infrastructure” (e.g., social services and social welfare systems). The seminar takes a public perspective, seeking ultimately to understand how to balance the roles of the public and private sectors in a way that serves society’s interests. In so doing, however, students will learn how to identify the opportunities that modern developments in infrastructure policy (such as public-private partnerships and pay-for-success mechanisms) have created for the private sector and to appreciate the pitfalls that can arise when private firms become involved in domains traditionally associated with government.
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