Course 2005-2006 a.y.



Department of Economics

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 17
DIEM (6 credits - II sem. - CC)
Course Director:

Classes: 17 (II sem.)

Course Objectives

The course is designed to provide the participants with an introduction to modern political economics. The aim is to explain the determination of economic policy in modern democracies and to analyze how these policies may differ according to the different political institutions in place.
The first part of the course provides a general introduction to comparative political analysis. In particular, it focuses on themes such as models of democracy, welfare state politics, differences among political institutions, political parties and interest groups in contemporary democratic regimes. The second part provides a comparative analysis of the welfare states across industrialized countries. Special emphasis is posed on the pension systems and the labor market institutions. The course then addresses how these differences in economic policies may arise from political institutions, in particular electoral rules and regime types. The last part touches upon relevant current issues such as the process of European integration and the size of the nations.

Course Content Summary

  • Models of democracy: the Westminster model vs. the Consensus model of democracy.
  • Welfare state politics: the notion of welfare state regimes, the different models of welfare state, types of social policies and peculiarities of social policy decision-making.
  • The impact of political institutions on decision-making, with particular focus on the role of party systems, executive-legislative relations, electoral systems, interest groups and division of power.
  • Tools of political economics: voting models.
  • Welfare state and redistributive policies: general transfers, pension system, labor market regulations and unemployment benefits.  Data, facts and theory.
  • Electoral rules and electoral competition: single-district proportional elections, multiple-district majoritarian elections. Broad versus targeted redistribution.
  • Political regimes: Presidential-Congressional and Parliamentary regimes
  • European integration and the optimal size of the nation.

Detailed Description of Assessment Methods

Written exam.
Students have two options. They may take the exam in two written parts: a 1st partial exam and a 2nd partial exam which will cover the first half and the second half of the course respectively. In this case the exam will be considered as passed only if both exams are sufficient. Alternatively, they may take a general exam covering the entire course material.


  • A. LIJPHART, Patterns of democracy, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1999.
  • T. PERSSON, G. TABELLINI, Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy, MIT Press, 2000.
  • Handouts and slides.

For further and continuously updated information consult the IEP web site or contact S.I.D. -  Servizio Informazione Didattica - Institute of Economics - via Gobbi, 5 - Room 313.

Exam textbooks & Online Articles (check availability at the Library)
Last change 10/06/2005 00:00