Info
Logo Bocconi

Course 2019-2020 a.y.

20633 - WELFARE AND POLITICS

Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 31

AFC (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01)
Course Director:
VINCENZO GALASSO

Classes: 31 (I sem.)
Instructors:
Class 31: VINCENZO GALASSO


Mission & Content Summary
MISSION

Welfare States and their programs differ widely across countries and – within the same country – also over time. For instance, in 2001, France had a welfare state expenditure equal to 30.5 % of GDP, while the US spent only 19.1%. What explains these large differences? The many tools provided by economic theory generally fail to offer a complete and satisfactory answer to this question. The course mission is to analyze the determinants of economic policy in modern democracies and to show how these policies may differ according to the different political institutions in place. After having addressed the political and economic determinants of the current welfare states, students are required to design and discuss their own policy reforms.

CONTENT SUMMARY

The course provides an introduction to modern political economics.

  1. The first part introduces the tools.
  2. The second part compares the welfare states across industrialized countries, with special emphasis on the pension systems and the labor market, and discusses the political feasibility of structural reforms. It also addresses the differences in economic policies that may arise from the political institutions, with particular emphasis on the analysis of the electoral rule and of the regime type.
  3. The third part analyzes dynamic policies – public debt, economic growth – in a political economy framework to understand how political incentives shape current and future policies.
  4. The last part addresses the debate between the role of culture and institutions in shaping economic growth.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)
KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Identify the political incentives faced by the policymakers in taking their policy decisions.
  • Explain how different demographic, economic and political features of a society contribute to shape these political incentives, and thereby the resulting welfare states.
  • Recognize the institutional and cultural determinants of economic policy-making.
APPLYING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Analyze the determinants of the existing public policies.
  • Evaluate the programs of the welfare states and their weakness.
  • Predict the dynamic evolution of the existing public policies as a function of the expected demographic, economic and political trends.
  • Design welfare state policies that combine economic rationality and political feasibility.

Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Guest speaker's talks (in class or in distance)
  • Individual assignments
  • Group assignments
  • Interactive class activities (role playing, business game, simulation, online forum, instant polls)
DETAILS
  • In addition to face-to-face lectures and class discussions, the course also includes one or more guest speakers by journalists and current or past policy-makers aimed at obtaining an inside perspective on the process of design and implementation of public policies.
  • Class activities are used to mimic the design and implementation of public policies. Students are assigned to different roles. For instance, in a discussion of pension reforms, a group of students play the role of the Finance Ministry, another of the Labor Ministry and another of the unions in the committee discussing the policy reform. Each group has as an assigment to draft a detailed policy proposal. Individual assignments are given to single students in each group, consisting of writing a short executive summary (or press release) of the proposal, of providing a short presentation to the committee discussing the policy reform, and of leading the discussion and negotiation in the committee. 

Assessment methods
  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  •   x x
  • Individual assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  • x    
  • Group assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  • x    
  • Active class participation (virtual, attendance)
  • x    
    ATTENDING STUDENTS

    With the purpose of measuring the acquisition of the above-mentioned learning outcomes, the students’ assessment  includes a written exam.

    • The exam consists of analytical exercises, critical assessments of true/false statements and open questions. These exam’s tools aim at assessing students’ ability to solve and explain political economic models of the welfare state, to use the analytical tools illustrated during the course to discuss whether statements are true or false, and to show critical thinking and political-economic reasoning to discuss policy scenarios in open questions.
    • To assess their ability to design a policy, discuss its implication and negotiate with the opposing parties, the students’ assessment also includes group assignment and class participation, as well as individual assignment  - related to the group assignment - to better evaluate the individual ability and effort.
    • Individual assignments, group assignments and active class participation account for 40% of the final grade. The exam(s) is account for the remaining 60%.
    • Students can take a partial written exam and complete the written exam at the end of the course. In this case the weight is:
      • 30% for the partial exam.
      • 30% for the partial end of term exam.
    • Alternatively, students can take a final written exam that accounts for 60% of the final grade.
    NOT ATTENDING STUDENTS

    With the purpose of measuring the acquisition of the above-mentioned learning outcomes, the students’ assessment  includes a written exam.

    • The exam consists of analytical exercises, critical assessments of true/false statements and open questions. These exam’s tools aim at assessing students’ ability to solve and explain political economic models of the welfare state, to use the analytical tools illustrated during the course to discuss whether statements are true or false, and to show critical thinking and political-economic reasoning to discuss policy scenarios in open questions.
    • Students can take a partial written exam and complete the written exam at the end of the course. In this case the weight is:
    • 50% for the partial exam.
    • 50% for the partial end of term exam.

    Alternatively, students can take a final written exam that accounts for 100% of the final grade.


    Teaching materials
    ATTENDING STUDENTS
    • GALASSO, Political Economics, Redistributive Policies, Bocconi University Press, 2017.
    • Slides and additional scientific papers are uploaded on the Bboard platform.
    NOT ATTENDING STUDENTS
    • GALASSO, Political Economics, Redistributive Policies, Bocconi University Press, 2017.
    • PERSSON, TABELLINI, Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy, MIT Press, 2000 (ch. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6).
    • Slides and additional scientific papers are uploaded on the Bboard platform.
    Last change 16/06/2019 21:04