Skip Navigation
search: People Opens New Window | Departments Opens New Window | Penn State Opens New Window | Web Opens New Window
Penn State mark
Penn State mark

University Bulletin

Undergraduate Degree Programs

Political Science (PL SC)

PL SC 488 Comparative Public Policy (3) Comparative methodology and public policy implementation in postindustrial societies; selected case studies of policy output.

PL SC 488 Comparative Public Policy (3)

Comparative Public Policy is an upper level political science course that includes components of comparative politics, public administration, and descriptive economics. The course presumes that developed industrial democracies confront common challenges in meeting human needs and that policy comparison is worthwhile despite distinctive societies and political cultures. For example, government involvement in the provision of health care varies widely from Britain’s National Health Service to the largely private approach of the United States. Nevertheless all health care systems confront rising technology costs, an ageing population, and rising performance expectations. A primary purpose of the course is to consider the origin and development of individual country programs while assessing the common challenges. Cross national comparison becomes relevant to the course by including some available data on costs, implementation and outcomes. Because the course includes about six distinct areas, e.g., education, taxation, urban planning income support, and overall macroeconomic policy, the course will depict profiles of policymaking in Europe, North America and Japan. Ideally comparison should help students to evaluate the effectiveness of policy choices of a particular country and government.

A second objective of the course will be to examine the national approaches to the relationship between the state and private economic activity. Not only does government expenditure amount to nearly half of some country’s total output, government choices create distinctive legal environments for business activity. Antitrust, health, wage, and consumer regulation offer an excellent point of comparing different incentives for economic activity in the United States and Europe. Apart from policy choices mentioned in the first paragraph, the regulation of economic activity has cumulative results for employment and the distribution of income. This portion of the course is intended to be somewhat more elementary than the first because of the probability that students will be less familiar with its content. The primary objective will be to help students understand the variations among market economies and reasons for their description as “neo-liberal,” “social market,” or “corporatist.”

Finally, the course will examine some current ideas about recent changes in the global economy and their consequences for national policy. Clearly “globalization” has become a matter of political concern owing to its consequences for the creation of wealth, employment, growth and distribution. While the course cannot devote detailed or exclusive to the European Union, Europe’s response to rapid movements in short term capital and investment presents an interesting point of comparison with the United States and Japan. The course should enable students to understand the meaning and criticism of “globalization” as a factor in shaping some national policies.


General Education: None
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: Social and Behavioral Science
Effective: Fall 2007
Prerequisite: PL SC 003

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.