20298 - POLITICAL ECONOMICS - ADVANCED
Course taught in English
Go to class group/s: 31
Class-group lessons delivered on campus
Students attending this course should be familiar with basic microeconomics concepts, in particular with the notion of Nash Equilibrium and Subgame Perfect Nash Equilibrium, and should know how to solve unconstrained and constrained optimization problems.
The goal of this course is to discuss current topics in political economics. This means to study the formation of economic policy from a positive, rather than a normative, perspective. Thus, the course will address questions such as: what are the political and institutional determinants of fiscal policy and macroeconomic policy in modern democracies? Which features of political institutions are more likely to foster economic development? Why are seemingly inefficient public policies preserved over time, and what can be done to overcome opposition to reform? The course will thus train students to understand how policy decisions are made, and how they can be improved. This will prove helpful in the analysis and forecast of policy decisions, by market analysts or by professionals working in government or international organizations.
Most of the course will focus on political determinants of policy choices in modern democracies. Special emphasis will be given to try and explain voters’ behavior, exploiting insights from behavioral economics. We start with a review of the normative principles of optimal fiscal policy. Next, we study the determinants of redistributive programs, distinguishing between general redistributive programs, such as the European welfare states, and redistribution targeted to powerful special interests. Then we discuss the conflict of interest between opportunistic politicians and the general public, asking how it shapes public policy. We then turn to the analysis of how public policy (in its various forms) is shaped by political institutions, applying insights from comparative politics to the analysis of public policy. Finally, we discuss political influences on inter-temporal policies, such as government debt and investments in state capacity.
- Understand how policy decisions are made and how they can be improved
- Understand ongoing political and economic changes in advanced democracies and in developing countries
- Understand the properties of different political institutions and how they influence public policy
- Understand systematic biases in public opinion and political beliefs
This will prove helpful in the analysis and forecast of public policies, by market analysts or by professionals working in government or international organizations. It will also enable students to read and understand, and critically evaluate the advanced literature on economic development and public policy
- Forecast policy decisions in complex political environments.
- Understand ongoing political and economic changes in advanced democracies and emerging countries.
- Understand why unsustainable policies remain in place for too long.
- Understand which specific features of political institutions may lead to more or less provision of public goods, more or less redistribution, more or less political corruption.
- Understand how organized special interests influence public policies.
- Face-to-face lectures
- Individual assignments
Individual assignments, to be discussed in class (about 4 written assignments)
Students are encouraged to take an active part in class discussion, sharing their insights and bringing their own views
The evaluation methods are the same for all students. Class attendance is strongly recommended but it is not required. The evaluation will be the same for attending and non-attending students. Non-attending students will have to deliver their problem sets by the deadline that will be announced in class if they want their problem sets to be graded and to receive credit towards the final grade for the course.
With the purpose of measuring the acquisition of the above-mentioned learning outcomes, the students' assessment is based on two main components:
- Problem sets (2 points out of 30)
The grades received in the problem sets and the midterms can only be retained during the current academic year
- Written exam (28 points out of 30)
The written exam consists of exercises and open questions aimed to assess students' ability to apply the analytical tools illustrated dyring the course. The exam could also consist of short statements to discuss. Those statements are aimed to assess studetns' ability to articulate economic reasoning.
Students can take a partial written exam and complete the exam at the end of the course. In this case the weight is split equally between the partial and the final exam. Alternatively, students can only take a final written exam.
One extra point will be awarded if the final exam is held by the February 2019 session.
The main course material, for both attending and non-attending students, is:
- T. PERSSON, G. TABELLINI, Political Economics, MIT Press, 2000.
The slides of the course, problem sets and additional readings are uploaded to the Bboard platform of the course.