Course 2017-2018 a.y.



Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 31
DES-ESS (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (II sem.)

Course Objectives

In the second module of “Institutions, Government and Society” EES students have the opportunity to study the fundamentals of some major traditions in the social sciences. Students can choose between this course, focused on sociology and institutions from an economic perspective, and Institutions, Government and Society IIA.

Course Content Summary

First Block – Sociological Research (Instructor: Francesco Billari).
This course will introduce students to the study of societies, economies, institutions and population through a sociological research lens. It will introduce sociological research by emphasizing a theoretically-driven empirical approach, starting from Goldthorpe’s idea of ‘Sociology as a population science’, i.e. that the basic targets of sociological explanations are population-level regularities, and that explanations should proceed through micro-founded social mechanisms. Some exemplar articles is discussed with reference to topics such as educational choices, inequality, social stratification and mobility, gender, family, health.

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.

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 are made available at the beginning of the course.

  • 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, are available as .pdf through the e-learning space.

  • J.H. GOLDTHORPE, Sociology as a Population Science, Cambridge University Press, 2016. Article list (to be specified later)
Exam textbooks & Online Articles (check availability at the Library)


Last change 23/03/2017 10:40