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Course 2016-2017 a.y.


Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 31

DES-ESS (6 credits - II sem. - OBS  |  SECS-P/07)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (II sem.)

Course Objectives
In the second module of “Institutions, Government and Society” EES and DES students have the opportunity to understand the fundamentals of some major traditions in the social science . Students can choose between this course, focus on political science and institutions from an economic perspective, and Institutions, Government and Society (IIA).

Intended Learning Outcomes
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Course Content Summary
First Block - Political Science and Rational Choice (Instructor: Massimo Morelli):
The course focuses on the following topics: (1) what is the role of institutions (e.g. democratic versus non democratic, weak versus strong executive constraints, parliamentary versus presidential regimes, common law versus Roman law) for economic outcomes, both on average and in terms of stability? (2) How do institutions typically evolve or change, and what triggers reforms? Where do for example preferences for electoral system reforms come from? What connections exist between political institutions and bureaucratic institutions, and how does the connection between politics and bureaucracy evolve in different systems? (3) What are the main obstacles to rational collective decision making in different types of public policy making institutions? For example, for the provision of public goods what are the pros and cons of voluntary uncoordinated provision versus collective decision in committees?
All these three broad questions are addressed making use of simple game theory logic and relying on a mixture of textbook chapters and a few articles. Empirical results in the literature on the various questions are mentioned, but no new empirical techniques arelearned in this course.
Second Block - Institutions and economic outcomes (Instructor: Carlo Devillanova):
The aim of the course is to lay the groundwork for an understanding of the role of institutions in modern economic systems. The course starts by examining the so-called fundamental causes of long-run development (geography, institutions, and culture) and then focuses on the link between (formal and informal) institutions and macroeconomic outcomes.
The first part of lectures discusses the conventional theoretical framework used to identify growth-enhancing institutions. It also presents recent empirical evidence on the causal effect of institutions on long-term development. The second part of lectures offers a broad overview of alternative approaches to study the relationship between institutions and economic outcomes. The main goal is to highlight the variety of available methods and theories, which often deliver very different policy prescriptions on how to shape economically efficient institutions. The relationship between institutions, inequality and macroeconomic outcomes is also addressed. Finally, the last part covers some new developments of macroeconomic modelling, which help to reconcile the different approaches/conclusions surveyed in the first two blocks of the course.

Teaching methods
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Assessment methods
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Detailed Description of Assessment Methods
For both blocks the assessment and final grade is based on a written exam, with no difference between attending and non-attending students.

Reading material will be made available at the beginning of the course.
  • BLOCK 1: The material for the exam includes lecture slides and the readings marked with an asterisk. The other readings are non-compulsory (except for parts that may be included in the slides). All slides and readings, including the book chapters, will be available as .pdf through the e-learning space.
  • BLOCK 2: Most of the course is based on articles from scientific journals and working papers. The compulsory readings will be provided at the beginning of the course. A set of slides and lecture notes will be uploaded before class and are compulsory material for the exam. The slides will also offer an extended, optional reading list.

Last change 21/03/2016 12:31