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Course 2021-2022 a.y.

20298 - POLITICAL ECONOMICS - ADVANCED

Department of Economics

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 31

CLELI (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/01)
Course Director:
GUIDO ENRICO TABELLINI

Classes: 31 (I sem.)
Instructors:
Class 31: GUIDO ENRICO TABELLINI


Suggested background knowledge

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. In particular, they should know how to use and apply the Kuhn-Tucker conditions to compute a constrained optimum.


Mission & Content Summary
MISSION

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? How do voters form their political beliefs, and how is this reflected in the behavior of politicians? The course will thus train students to understand how policy decisions are made, how they can be improved, and how voters behave at the polls. This will prove helpful in the analysis and forecast of policy decisions, by market analysts or by professionals working in government or international organizations.

CONTENT SUMMARY

Most of the course will focus on political determinants of policy choices in modern democracies. Emphasis will also 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 corruption and more generally 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. The final part of the course will be devoted to studying voters’ behavior and the rise of populism.


Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)
KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • 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

APPLYING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • 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.

Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Individual assignments
DETAILS

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.


Assessment methods
  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  •   x x
  • Individual assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  • x    
    ATTENDING AND NOT ATTENDING STUDENTS

    Course Grade: 

    Exam and Problem sets (only written exams):  

    -           2 Problem sets: 

    -           Midterm exam on the first half of the course  

    -           Final exam 

    The Problem sets, Midterm and the Final exam will consist of: 

    1. analytical problem solving, designed to assess student’s ability to use the analytical tools developed in the course
       
    2. true or false or discussion questions, designed to assess the understanding of the concepts studied in the course, the knowledge of the relevant literature, and the ability to apply these tools to real world situations 
      More details on the format of the exams and on the weights of each of these assessment methods will be provided once we know whether the exams will be in person or online.  

      One extra point will be awarded if the final exam is held by the February 2022 session. 

      The grades received in the problem sets and midterm can only be retained during the current academic year 

     

     

     

    NON ATTENDING STUDENTS 

    They have to be prepared over the entire program and deliver the problem sets by the due date. 


    Teaching materials
    ATTENDING AND NOT ATTENDING STUDENTS

    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.

    Last change 03/08/2021 09:41